Please support democracy

Without your support, Democracy Watch can't win key changes to stop governments and big businesses from abusing their power and hurting you and your family. Please click here to support democracy now

Federal political donation and loan limit should be lowered to $75, public funding implemented if parties can’t raise enough

Unprecedented study of donations and loans from 2016-2022 shows about 75% of donors donate only about $75 a year, only 5% donate more than $1,000

Allowing big money donations facilitates illegal funneling of donations, unethical influence, and foreign interference in Canadian politics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, February 21, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released its unprecedented study of political donations, loans and taxpayer-funded subsidies to the main federal parties from 2016-2022 (2023 is not included because most final stats are not yet available).

The statistics show that the current political finance system is rigged in favour of a few wealthy donors, wealthy candidates, the big parties and Canada’s Big Banks.

The conclusions of the study are that to have fair, ethical and democratic federal elections and policy-making processes, the annual donation and loan limit should be lowered to $75, and if the parties can prove they can’t raise enough funding to inform voters, run their operations and election campaigns then public funding should be provided by matching donations, giving loans from a public fund (instead of allowing unethical loans from federally regulated banks), and giving election cost reimbursements to all parties (not just the main parties).

The same changes are needed across Canada (except in Quebec which already has a $100 donation limit, donation-matching and other public funding), especially in Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador, and the Yukon where unlimited donations are still allowed from businesses, unions, other organizations and individuals.

Click here to see an infographic webpage that summarizes the key findings of the study, and contains links to detailed charts and analytical documents.

The key findings of the study are as follows:

1. About 75% of donors to the main federal parties donate only about $75 a year;

2. Only 5% of donors donate more than $1,000 a year – only 11,000 voters out of Canada’s total of more than 27 million voters donate more than $1,000;

3. Because their donations are so much larger than other donors, these 11,000 donors who donate $1,000+ provide on average 30% of the total raised by the main parties each year (especially to the Liberals and Conservatives).

4. The system also favours wealthy nomination contestants as they are allowed to donate $1,000 to their own campaign, wealthy election candidates who are allowed to donate $5,000 to their own campaign, and wealthy party leadership contestants who are allowed to donate $25,000 to their own campaign;

5. Allowing big money donations facilitates illegal funnelling of large amounts of money to federal parties, including foreign governments funnelling donations through front-groups and individuals in Canada, and gives big money donors unethical influence over politicians;

6. Only about 240,000 voters donate each year out of more than 27 million voters, and 9 out of 10 donate less than $500, and they donate $52 million on average to the main parties;

7. Most of the main parties spend what they raise each year, and rely on huge loans from federally regulated banks and financial institutions to pay for their election campaigns (these loans should instead come from a public fund);

8. Lowering the donation limit to $75 would mean the parties would have to attract $75 donations from only about 500,000 more voters (out of the more than 26 million who don’t donate now) to raise the same amount they currently raise each year (the Conservatives would need about 220,000 more donors, the Liberals about 170,000, the NDP about 63,000, the Greens about 30,000 and the Bloc about 10,000), and;

9. Taxpayers subsidize the main parties with about $27 million each year in tax deductions for donations (that mostly go to wealthy donors, and tens of millions more during election years), and about $63 million in post-election campaign cost reimbursements (that almost always goes only to the main parties and their candidates). It would be much more democratic to use this public funding to match donations and reimburse all parties’ and candidates’ election costs.

“Canada’s current undemocratic and unfair big money political finance system is rigged in favour of wealthy donors, wealthy candidates, big parties and the big banks, and the best way to make the system fair and to stop the unethical influence of big money in Canadian politics is to stop big money donations and loans and, if the parties can prove they need it, provide donation-matching public funding, loans from a public fund and election campaign cost reimbursements to all parties and candidates,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch, whose PhD thesis contains most of the research, and detailed recommendations, in Chapters 3 and 6 of the thesis. Democracy Watch thanks Cameron Flanagan and Justin Myers for their assistance in completing the political donation calculations for each year.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign and Stop Foreign Interference in Canadian Politics Campaign

RCMP confirms its access to information unit was misinformed and so misled Democracy Watch with letter saying investigation into obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution was ongoing

RCMP still violating law by failing to disclose 2,200 pages of investigation records that DWatch requested in July 2022

RCMP Commissioner and lead investigating officer still to be questioned by House Ethics Committee about their negligently weak investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, February 15, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the records disclosed by the RCMP that explain how its Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Branch sent a misleading letter dated May 25, 2023 to Democracy Watch in response to D\Watch’s July 2022 Access to Information Act (ATIA) request.

The letter contained incorrect information saying that the allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet members obstructed justice by pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin in 2018 “is currently under investigation”.

In statements issued to the media late in the afternoon on Monday, June 19, 2023 and in the afternoon of Wednesday, June 21, 2023, the RCMP said that the investigation ended in January 2023, and that the incorrect information in the May 25th letter was sent by its ATIP Branch to Democracy Watch “using information available at the time.”  (Click here to see those two full statements from the RCMP posted in DWatch’s June 19, 2023 News Release).

The RCMP’s internal communications records, recently disclosed in response to Democracy Watch’s request under the Access to Information Act, show that while one division of the RCMP had closed the investigation, an administrative system still registered the investigation as ongoing.  Click here to see the records, with the key information on pages 44-48, and 66-76 (especially 68-69).

“The RCMP’s records show that its internal communications system did not make it clear to all divisions and branches of the RCMP when an investigation has been completed, and that it was committing to correct that problem that caused it to mislead Democracy Watch in May 2023 about the status of the investigation into the Trudeau Cabinet SNC-Lavalin obstruction of justice scandal,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.

The RCMP’s June 21, 2023 statement said: “The RCMP will undertake a new review of the records, and, following necessary consultations, will provide a new release package to the requester within 90 days.”  However, the RCMP only disclosed about 1,800 pages of documents in September, and said about 2,200 pages of records were still being reviewed.

The disclosed records made it clear that the RCMP’s investigation was very superficial and incomplete, didn’t challenge the Trudeau Cabinet’s withholding of key evidence, characterized all statements by everyone in the Cabinet who was alleged to have obstructed justice in a favourable way whenever possible, always argued in favour of doubts concerning the success of a prosecution, incorrectly claimed that the RCMP required proof of “a corrupt intent to interfere” before a prosecution for obstruction could be pursued, and that the RCMP’s national command tried to bury the investigation by delaying a key decision from March 2021 to January 2023.  Click here to see details.

In an email dated September 29, 2023 on page 123 of the recently disclosed records, Rita Lattanzi-Thomas, Senior Consultant in the RCMP’s ATIP Branch writes that the documents are being reviewed to ensure they “will not reveal any investigation techniques etc.” and that the documents contain “the investigator’s notes (emails and notebook entries), witness interviews etc.”

Ms. Lattanzi-Thomas also writes that she is “hoping to have the remainder of the documents released on or before October 13, 2023.”  Click here to see the record and email on page 123.  Four months later, Democracy Watch is still waiting for disclosure of the documents.

“Given Democracy Watch requested the investigation records in July 2022, and the investigation ended in January 2023, it is completely unjustifiable and a clear violation of the federal open government law that the RCMP continues to fail to disclose all the investigation records,” said Conacher.

On December 11, 2023, the House Ethics Committee was supposed to hold a hearing to ask key questions of the RCMP Commissioner and lead investigating officer about the RCMP’s very, incomplete weak investigation, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute by Committee Chair John Brassard.  The Committee has not yet re-scheduled the hearing.

“All of the RCMP’s conflicting actions and statements and the problems they have caused in this situation are due to their systemic culture of excessive secrecy, and the lack of timely, effective enforcement of the federal access to information law, including penalties for disclosure delays and other violations.  As a result, the public’s right to know have been violated, but no one will be held accountable, let alone penalized,” said Conacher.  “This shows the importance of the Liberal government acting quickly to make the changes to strengthen the Access to Information Act and enforcement, and to establish penalties for violations, as recommended by a House Committee in its June 2023 report.”

If the RCMP was committed to transparency and independent, effective law enforcement, it would have made it clear back in 2019 when the allegations were first made that an independent special prosecutor would oversee the investigation and would issue a public report as soon as it ended that provided a summary of the investigation process and details about any prosecution decisions.  Instead, the end of the investigation was only disclosed months later after unjustifiable delays and through conflicting, vague statements from the RCMP that provided limited information and raised even more questions.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign and Stop Unfair Law Enforcement Campaign

Group asks Interim Ethics Commissioner von Finckenstein to disclose how he was appointed, his financial interests and clients

He is required to disclose his financial interests, he has an active big business consulting website, and he is a Senior Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute

He has buried 8 complaints, one about the PM, and created 6 new loopholes in rules – is he the handpicked lapdog Trudeau wants as Commissioner?

Ethics standards and enforcement will be dangerously weakened if he is appointed to another term – opposition parties must stop his re-appointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, February 7, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the open letter it has sent to Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein calling on him to disclose his assets and liabilities, and his consulting clients, and all the communications and records of communications he had with the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and Privy Council Office (PCO) during his appointment process for his six-month term that began last September.

Democracy Watch also called on MPs on the House Ethics Committee to call Mr. von Finckenstein back very soon to testify about his negligently bad enforcement record and his appointment process, before his current term ends on February 29th, and to reject any attempt by the Trudeau Cabinet to re-appoint him for another six-month term or a 7-year term (the Cabinet is required to consult with opposition party leaders before making a 7-year term appointment).

Mr. von Finckenstein has an active website for consulting and doing arbitrations for big businesses, and is a Senior Fellow of the C.D. Howe Institute (which is a big business lobby group as the members of its Board of Directors make clear), both which can create clear conflicts of interest for him in his role as Interim Ethics Commissioner.  He is also, it seems, a Count from the aristocratic von Finckenstein family.

As well, as far as Democracy Watch can determine, the Interim Commissioner was required by December 31, 2023 to disclose a public summary of his assets and liabilities in the Public Registry under the Conflict of Interest Act (s. 2 “public office holder” and “reporting public office holder”, ss. 25-26, s. 62.2, and the related Cabinet order).  However, there is no listing for him in the Public Registry.

In violation of the Access to Information Act, the Trudeau Cabinet is hiding communication records that show how they chose Mr. von Finckenstein, and also details about how many qualified candidates have applied to be appointed as Ethics Commissioner for a 7-year term in the process that began in April 2023.  Mr. von Finckenstein did not apply to be appointed for a 7-year term by the May 23, 2023 deadline, and so it would be a violation of the rules to appoint him.

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the Cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs like the Ethics Commissioner.  The Trudeau Cabinet in 2016-2017 used a similar secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process to appoint several key democratic good government watchdogs, and the opposition parties pushed back a bit but then rolled over and let the Liberals get away with it.

Mr. von Finckenstein has buried 8 ethics complaints, including one about Prime Minister Trudeau, and created 6 new loopholes in federal ethics laws to add to the 10 huge loopholes in the MP Code and the 10 huge loopholes in the Conflict of Interest Act that applies to the PM, Cabinet ministers, Cabinet staff, Cabinet appointees and top government officials.  Click here to see details about the 6 new loopholes he has created, which are:

  1. Mr. von Finckenstein is now allowing Cabinet staff, Cabinet appointees and top government officials to secretly own up to $60,000 in shares in businesses they make decisions about, which allows them to profit from their own decisions;
  2. He is now allowing members of the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) to secretly invest in energy companies, which is possibly why the CER just approved Trans Mountain Corp. changing its pipeline construction plan;
  3. He is now allowing the Prime Minister to appoint anyone to any government position, even family members and friends (like David Johnston) even when they are investigating wrongdoing by the PM;
  4. He is now allowing Cabinet ministers (like Jonathan Wilkinson, Minister of Energy and Natural Resources) and top government officials to participate in a decision-making process even if their spouses have significant financial interests that will be affect by the decision;
  5. He is now allowing Cabinet staff and top government officials to leave their position and move to another position in the government, or take a contract with the government, without any cooling-off period, even if the position conflicts with the past position, and;
  6. He has set a precedent by deciding not to investigate ethics complaints about a former MP simply because the MP is no longer an MP, which means all MPs have to do is hide their wrongdoing until they resign or retire or are defeated and then they will never be found guilty of violating the law.

“Given Mr. von Finckenstein has one of the worst enforcement records of any ethics commissioner across Canada in the past 20 years after being in the job only five months, and has ties to big businesses that lobby the federal government, appointing him to another six-month term or even worse a seven-year term as ethics commissioner would dangerously undermine federal political ethics standards and allow Cabinet ministers, Cabinet staff, top government officials and MPs to make many more unethical decisions and be let off every time,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Canadians can only hope that opposition parties do the right thing and stop Prime Minister Trudeau from once again, as he did in 2017, appointing his own ethics lapdog after handpicking him through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process.”

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign

Committee must ask Interim Ethics Commissioner von Finckenstein key questions about PM’s trip, enforcement record and appointment

He has buried 8 ethics complaints, including about PM Trudeau, and gutted 3 key rules – is he the handpicked lapdog Trudeau wants as Ethics Commissioner?

Ethics standards and enforcement will be dangerously weakened if he is appointed to another term – opposition parties must stop his re-appointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, January 30, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on MPs on the House Ethics Committee to ask Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein the following key questions when he testifies before the Committee today at 11:00 am:

1.  Why has he and Prime Minister Trudeau not disclosed the communications from the PMO/PCO concerning the Trudeau family’s Jamaica trip? Section 43 of the Conflict of Interest Act applies to the situation and only requires that the Commissioner’s advice be kept confidential – the Commissioner is allowed to disclose the information the office holder submitted. And there is no provision in any federal law that allows the PM to keep that information secret;

2.  How was he appointed and will he disclose the secret communications he had with the Trudeau Cabinet/PMO/PCO during that process (given the Trudeau Cabinet is hiding communication records that show how they chose him)?

3.  What has the Cabinet communicated to him, if anything, about being reappointed for another 6-month term after his current term ends on February 29th? Will he disclose all those communications?

4.  What has the Cabinet communicated to him, if anything, about the appointment process for the Ethics Commissioner to be appointed to a 7-year term (given the deadline to apply was May 23, 2023)? Will he disclose all those communications?

5.  And what is his response to Democracy Watch’s analysis that concludes, after being on the job only a few months, von Finckenstein already has one of the worst government ethics enforcement records it has seen from commissioners across Canada in the past 20 years, given he has buried at least 8 ethics complaints and gutted 3 key ethics rules?

Because of his negligently bad enforcement record, and because the Trudeau Cabinet handpicked von Finckenstein through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process, Democracy Watch also called on opposition parties to do everything they can to stop the Cabinet from renewing him for another 6-month term at the end of February or, even worse, appointing him to a 7-year term as Ethics Commissioner (the Cabinet is required to consult with opposition party leaders before making a 7-year term appointment).

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the Cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs like the Ethics Commissioner.  The Trudeau Cabinet in 2016-2017 used a similar secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process to appoint several key democratic good government watchdogs, and the opposition parties pushed back a bit but then rolled over and let the Liberals get away with it.

“Given Mr. von Finckenstein has one of the worst enforcement records of any ethics commissioner across Canada in the past 20 years after being in the job only five months, appointing him to another six-month term or even worse a seven-year term as ethics commissioner would dangerously undermine federal political ethics standards and allow Cabinet ministers, Cabinet staff, top government officials and MPs to make many more unethical decisions and be let off every time,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Canadians can only hope that opposition parties do the right thing and stop Prime Minister Trudeau from once again, as he did in 2017, appointing his own ethics lapdog after handpicking him through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process.”

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign

Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein has one of the worst enforcement records after only a few months on the job

He has buried 8 ethics complaints, including about PM Trudeau, and gutted 3 key rules – is he the lapdog Trudeau has been trying to get as Ethics Commissioner?

Ethics standards and enforcement will be dangerously weakened if he is appointed to another term – opposition parties must stop his re-appointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, January 26, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released its analysis that concludes, after being on the job only a few months, Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein already has one of the worst government ethics enforcement records it has seen from commissioners across Canada in the past 20 years.

In just five months, Mr. Von Finckenstein has buried at least 8 ethics complaints and gutted 3 key ethics rules in ways that will allow Cabinet staff and top government officials to secretly profit from their decisions and be in serious financial conflicts of interest.

Because of his negligently bad enforcement record, and because the Trudeau Cabinet handpicked von Finckenstein through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process, Democracy Watch also called on opposition parties to do everything they can to stop the Cabinet from renewing him for another 6-month term at the end of February or, even worse, appointing him to a 7-year term as Ethics Commissioner (the Cabinet is required to consult with opposition party leaders before making a 7-year term appointment).

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the Cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs like the Ethics Commissioner.  The Trudeau Cabinet in 2016-2017 used a similar secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process to appoint several key democratic good government watchdogs, and the opposition parties pushed back a bit but then rolled over and let the Liberals get away with it.

Mr. von Finckenstein testifies on Tuesday, January 30th before the House Ethics Committee on Tuesday, January 30 and MPs should grill him both about how he was chosen (the Trudeau Cabinet is hiding communication records that show how they chose him), and his negligently bad enforcement record.

“Given Mr. von Finckenstein has one of the worst enforcement records of any ethics commissioner across Canada in the past 20 years after being in the job only five months, appointing him to another six-month term or even worse a seven-year term as ethics commissioner would dangerously undermine federal political ethics standards and allow Cabinet ministers, Cabinet staff, top government officials and MPs to make many more unethical decisions and be let off every time,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Canadians can only hope that opposition parties do the right thing and stop Prime Minister Trudeau from once again, as he did in 2017, appointing his own ethics lapdog after handpicking him through a secret, partisan, Cabinet-controlled process.”

Mr. von Finckenstein has buried at least 8 ethics complaints with secret rulings that let off everyone who was alleged to have violated conflict of interest or other ethics rules, based on what is known so far since September when he started his 6-month term in the position of Interim Ethics Commissioner.

In September he testified before the House Ethics Committee that he had “Eight open cases, which involve 11 people” (p. 3 of testimony).  Then in October he testified again and said that the cases were “gone” (p. 18 of testimony).  He has not issued any rulings finding anyone guilty, which means he let off all 11 of the alleged wrongdoers.

While Mr. von Finckenstein refused DWatch’s request that he disclose all 8 rulings (even though nothing in the Conflict of Interest Act nor in ss. 27(5.1) of the MP Code prohibits such disclosure), 2 of the 8 rulings address complaints that DWatch filed.

The first ruling is about DWatch’s complaint alleging Prime Minister Trudeau violated the Act by appointing his long-time friend David Johnston to investigate the PM’s actions on foreign interference.  Mr. von Finckenstein refused to even investigate the complaint based on the bizarre claim that the PM has a “constitutional prerogative” to appoint whomever he wants to any public office.  This ruling sets a dangerous precedent that allows the PM to appoint family, relatives and close friends to any federal government position.

The second ruling is about DWatch’s complaint requesting an investigation into Energy and Natural Resources Minister Jonathan Wilkinson, who is Trudeau’s senior B.C. minister, participating in meetings concerning B.C.-based Teck Resources Ltd. (which lobbied Wilkinson six times while his spouse has significant investments in financial institutions that are among the top investors in Teck).  Mr. von Finckenstein also refused to even investigate the situation based on the equally bizarre claim that the private interests “are too remote and speculative to cause them to conflict” with Wilkinson’s public duties.  This ruling also sets a dangerous precedent that allows Cabinet ministers and top government officials to participate in decisions when they have a financial conflict of interest.

Mr. von Finckenstein has also gutted 3 key rules in the Conflict of Interest Act by issuing in October bizarre, dangerously weak interpretations of the rules that will allow many government officials to participate in decisions and actions when they have a significant conflict of interest:

1. He is doubling from $30,000 to $60,000 the value of shares that Cabinet staff and top government officials can own in businesses they regulate or make decisions about, and specifically allowing members of the Canadian Energy Regulator (CER) to invest in exchange-traded funds and mutual funds that own shares in energy companies. (Click here to see his bizarre interpretation – #3 re: Doubling the minimum value exemption and #4 re: CER appointees).  This will allow Cabinet staff, top government officials and CER appointees to be in a direct, significant financial conflict of interest and to secretly profit from the decisions they make.

2. He is now allowing Cabinet staff and top government officials to leave their position and move to another position in the government, or take a contract with the government, without any cooling-off period because, he told the House Ethics Committee in October, he believes “there cannot be any conflict of interest between different government departments or agencies” and no one in government ever has “confidential information that would be harmful to the government” (Click here to see his bizarre interpretation – #1 re: Definition of the term “entity”). Among many other conflicts of interest between government departments, his interpretation ignores the obvious reality that the interests and information held by ministers and their staff directly conflict with the interests of any agency, board, commission or tribunal that enforces laws that apply to the minister and his/her department.  It also ignores the reason for the cooling-off period, which is to prevent ministerial staff from developing relationships with top department officials and then receiving preferential treatment in hiring processes.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign

Trudeau Cabinet hiding how Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein was appointed, and how full-term Commissioner appointment process is proceeding

Interim appointment term over in early March – or will Trudeau again lie about lack of qualified candidates and renew von Finckenstein for another 6 months?

Commissioner who serves 7-year term must be chosen by all parties reviewing all applications for the position, to prevent Cabinet from rigging the appointment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, January 18, 2024

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it received recently from the Trudeau Cabinet office that claims a 165-day extension to June 4, 2024 before the office will disclose the records of communications about the appointment of Konrad von Finckenstein as federal Interim Ethics Commissioner, and about the appointment of the next full-term Ethics Commissioner.  Democracy Watch requested the records in November, and the deadline to disclose them under the Access to Information Act (ATIA) was December 21st. Democracy Watch filed a complaint with the Information Commissioner and the Commissioner’s office is investigating the excessive delay in disclosing the records.

The extension by Cabinet/Privy Council Office (PCO) will delay the disclosure of the records until after the end of February when von Finckenstein’s 6-month term as Interim Ethics Commissioner ends.  He was appointed on August 30th after Mario Dion retired in February due to health problems, and the Trudeau Cabinet failed in its attempt to install Trudeau Cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc’s sister-in-law Martine Richard as the Interim Commissioner (she resigned rather than face questions about her appointment, but continues to serve as the Ethics Commissioner’s Senior Lawyer).

The Trudeau Cabinet has said nothing about its secretive search for a person to appoint to a 7-year term as the next Ethics Commissioner, and is playing the same game as the Cabinet did in 2016-2017 by using a Cabinet-controlled, partisan, political and secretive process for reviewing applications, and hiding key information from opposition parties (in 2017 the Liberals misled opposition parties by falsely claiming that no qualified candidates had applied for the Ethics Commissioner and Commissioner of Lobbying positions) (Click here to see a summary of the Liberals’ undemocratic and unethical watchdog appointment process).

The deadline to apply for the Ethics Commissioner position was May 23, 2023.  In September 18th, von Finckenstein testified at the House of Commons Ethics Committee but only disclosed a bit of information about how he was appointed:

1.  Some unknown person asked him last April whether he would accept the position of Interim Ethics Commissioner, but he was going on a 40-day cruise at that time. Some unknown person contacted him again in June (p. 3 of testimony);

2.  He was only asked to take, and only committed to, a 6-month term; he hadn’t thought about applying for a 7-year term and it wasn’t discussed, and; he wouldn’t know if he wanted a 7-year term until after the 6-month term (p. 4 of testimony).

The Federal Court of Appeal ruled unanimously in 2020 that the Cabinet is biased when it chooses democracy watchdogs like the Ethics Commissioner.  The Trudeau Cabinet should, finally, remove the bias by establishing a fully independent appointments advisory committee whose members are approved by all parties in the House of Commons (which Stephen Harper promised back in 2006), with the committee doing a public, merit-based search for a short list of qualified candidates, and then an all-party House Committee would make the final choice.  This appointments system should be used for all the federal democratic good government watchdogs.

“The Trudeau Liberals are again playing secretive, dishonest games with the appointment process for the federal Ethics Commissioner, and opposition parties need to wake up and stop the Liberals from again choosing their own lapdog,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The Federal Court of Appeal has ruled that the Cabinet ministers are biased when they choose watchdogs who enforce laws that apply to them, and so an all-party committee must be given all the applications for the position of Ethics Commissioner so it can determine a short list of well-qualified candidates and make the final choice.

“For all future appointments of watchdogs, and all other federal agencies, boards, commissions and tribunals that need to be independent from Cabinet, a fully independent appointments advisory committee whose members are approved by all parties in the House of Commons should be established to do a public, merit-based search for a short list of qualified candidates, and then an all-party House Committee should make the final choice of who will be appointed,” said Conacher.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign and Government Ethics Campaign

Trudeau Liberal Finance Minister Freeland still breaking 2021 election promises to stop gouging and abuse of bank customers

All five promises must be fully kept, and six other key measures enacted (some of which U.S. enacted decades ago), to stop bank gouging, discrimination and abuse and ensure banks pay their fair share in taxes

Big Six Banks gouged out $58 billion in profits in 2023 (almost triple their 2010 profits), paid their CEOs an average of $12 million each, and gave out $21 billion in total bonuses to employees

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, December 19, 2023

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on the Trudeau Liberal Cabinet and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland to keep all five of the Liberals’ 2021 election promises to increase bank accountability in Canada.  The Liberals have only partially kept two of their five election promises, and they have broken their other three promises, leaving Canadians still vulnerable to bank gouging, discrimination and other abuses.

Democracy Watch called on all federal parties to work together to make all the key changes needed to stop bank gouging, discrimination and abuse, as called for by 120,000+ voters who have signed on to Democracy Watch’s letter-writing campaign or Change.org petition, some of which the U.S. enacted decades ago (See Full List of Key Bank Accountability Changes).

The Liberals are still breaking their 2021 election promises to enact the following three key bank accountability measures, measures called for by 120,000 voters (all five promises were also listed in Minister Freeland’s mandate letter):

1.  Empower the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to “review the prices charged by banks and impose changes if they are excessive” (including reviewing interest rates, as Australia did in 2017).

Instead, the Liberals have not given the FCAC the power to review or change any gouging interest rate or fee, and are only reviewing one gouging bank fee and consulting on low-cost, small-value credit;
(See Backgrounder on Weak Enforcement of Financial Consumer and Investment Protection).

2.  Require financial institutions to offer options to delay consumer debt payments when needed.

Instead, the Liberals have only issued unenforceable mortgage guidelines and an unenforceable Mortgage Charter.

3.  Review closing tax loopholes to prevent banks and other financial institutions from pretending to make their money in low-tax countries in order to lower the taxes they pay in Canada.

The Liberals promised to close the tax loopholes, not just to review them, and the review has not been completed.

“As usual, the Trudeau Liberals spouted half-truths with their 2021 election promises, and since then have proposed half-measures that only partially keep two of their five bank accountability promises while breaking the other three promises,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Finance Minister Freeland continues to protect the big bank’s gouging profits and their executives’ excessive multi-million salaries instead of making the changes needed to stop banks from gouging billions from their 30 million customers and to protect bank customers from discrimination and other abuses.”

“Every dollar of excessive profit for the banks, and every person and business the banks unjustifiably refuse to loan to, costs the Canadian economy because it means that the banks are overcharging for their essential services and loans, and choking off job creation and spending,” said Conacher.

The following additional six key measures, which 120,000 Canadians have called for, are needed to actually stop gouging and abuse, to stop discrimination in bank lending and service, and ensure the banks serve everyone across Canada fairly and well at fair prices and interest rates (See the Full List of Key Bank Accountability Changes):

1.  Require banks to cut credit card interest rates in half now, and allow people renewing their mortgages to re-renew without a penalty at a lower interest rate if interest rates decrease over the next few years, and require banks to lower all their interest rates the same time as the Bank of Canada lowers its interest rate over the next few years;

2.  Require banks and insurance companies to promote a national financial consumer organization, and a national individual investor organization in their communications with individual customers and investors (as recommended in 1998 by the Liberal-controlled MacKay Task Force, House Finance and Senate Banking committees);

3.  Require the banks to disclose detailed information annually about their lending and service records (as the U.S. has required banks to do for 30 years, including the U.S. banks that 4 of Canada’s Big 6 Banks own), categorized by race, gender, income level and neighbourhood, and require corrective action whenever banks discriminate against customers;

4.  Require the banks to re-open basic banking branches in every neighbourhood that offer low-interest rate, small-value lines of credit to everyone (especially people who have a bad credit rating because of a past predatory loan) to stop predatory lending across Canada (including through partnering with Canada Post outlets for postal banking, as TD started to do in November 2022 but then paused and then cancelled);

5.  Require the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) to do unannounced, mystery-shopper audits to find violations of consumer protection laws, and to identify all violators and fine them a minimum of $1 million for every violation (and the maximum $50 million for systemic violations, and;

6.  Require the Big Banks and other financial institutions to cut the pay of their CEO and top executives to no more than 40 times their lowest paid employee (as in some European countries).

The Liberals have only partially kept only the following two of their five 2021 election promises to increase banking accountability and fairness:

1.  They imposed a temporary excess profits tax on banks and insurance companies that earn more than $1 billion a year (of 15%, but for one year only in 2022), and an increase in their annual tax rate of 1.5%.

But the Liberals promised they would impose a higher 3% increase in the annual rate (England imposed a more than 8% tax hike on banks in 2011, and Australia increased its bank tax rate in 2017).

2.  They will, as of November 1, 2024, require all banks to use the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments (OBSI) as the complaint-appeal entity.

But banks will not be required to use OBSI until November 2024, and the Liberals are breaking their promise to give OBSI “the power to impose binding arbitration.”

Canada’s Big 6 Banks reported, yet again, excessively high annual profits totalling $58.3 billion in 2023 and record total profits of $61 billion in 2022, almost triple their 2010 profits, all reaped through gouging their customers with excessively high credit card and other credit interest rates and mutual fund and other banking fees.

Four of Canada’s Big 6 Banks are listed in Fortune’s Global 500 for 2023 (based on 2022 profits), and TD, RBC, Scotiabank and BMO were also in the top 35 most profitable financial institutions in the world in 2022 (more profitable than most other larger banks) and two banks are among the five most profitable Canadian companies in the Global 500.

Canada’s Big 6 Banks also paid their CEOs a total of $73.3 million in 2022 (an average of $12.2 million each – 55% higher than in 2008) and in 2023 handed out $21.2 billion total in bonuses to their employees. The Big Bank CEOs and employees were given these huge salaries and bonuses even though customer complaints about bank interest rates fees and poor service increased in 2023. See Canada’s Big Banks Backgrounder.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Bank Accountability Campaign

Lawsuit against B.C. Premier’s 2020 snap election call in appeal court today

Case is not to overturn election – just to have court rule, as New Brunswick appeal court did last December, that Premier can’t call snap elections

UK Supreme Court in 2019, and New Brunswick appeal court in 2022, both ruled that courts can rule on whether a political decision violates the law

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, October 19, 2023

OTTAWA – Democracy Watch announced that, after a long delay caused mainly by a backlog in the B.C. courts, the B.C. Court of Appeal (BCCA) will today hear its appeal, filed together with Wayne Crookes (founder of IntegrityBC), of the June 21, 2022 ruling by the B.C. Supreme Court (BCSC) that contradicted itself in rejecting the lawsuit challenging former Premier John Horgan’s September 2020 snap election call one year before the fixed election date of October 2021.

The appeal, BCCA file #CA48434, is being heard today from 10 am to 4 pm PST in Courtroom 50 of the Vancouver courthouse at 800 Smithe St., and can be watched online by clicking the link on this webpage. Emily MacKinnon and associates at Osler, Hoskin and Harcourt LLP in Vancouver are providing legal counsel to Democracy Watch and Wayne Crookes for the court case.

BCSC Justice Gomery’s June 21, 2022 ruling concluded that the B.C. Legislative Assembly intended to prohibit the Premier from calling snap election when it enacted changes under Bill 7 in 2001 to s. 23 of B.C.’s Constitution Act (which the Assembly confirmed when it changed the fixed election date from May to October with Bill 5 in 2017). He also ruled that the measures legally can prohibit the Premier from advising the Lieutenant Governor to call a snap election (every Premier had complied with the fixed election date requirement in the four elections before Premier Horgan’s 2020 snap election call).

However, the justice then contradicted himself by ruling that the measures don’t actually prohibit snap elections because that would give voters the right to challenge snap election calls in court, and courts shouldn’t rule on such political decisions.

Democracy Watch and Mr. Crookes are arguing that many laws have been enacted to prohibit premiers and prime ministers from doing many political things, just like the fixed election date law clearly prohibits the Premier from calling a snap election (unless a vote of non-confidence in the government occurs in the Legislative Assembly, based on the constitutional principle of the sovereignty of the legislature and the constitutional convention of responsible government).

As a result, it is the proper and constitutional role of the courts to issue a ruling if anyone files a lawsuit challenging the Premier’s violation of the legal prohibition on calling a snap election.

In further arguments filed in response to the B.C. government’s arguments, the lawyers for Democracy Watch and Mr. Crookes argue that the fixed election date measures don’t just require the Premier to call an election at least every four years, but also clearly prohibit the Premier from calling an election before the fixed date (again, unless a vote of non-confidence occurs in the Assembly).

“By calling a snap election during a pandemic instead of waiting for the fixed election date, Premier Horgan acted like an old-school power-crazed politician, not a new democrat committed to fair and democratic elections,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The B.C. legislature wanted to keep operating when the Premier called the snap election, and no single MLA, not even the Premier, has the right to shut down the legislature for no good reason, as the UK Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2019 and the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ruled unanimously last year.”

“Hopefully the B.C. courts will rule that the Premier violated the law when he called his self-interested, hypocritical and unfair snap election, which will prevent snap elections in the future,” said Conacher.

The UK Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2019 that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of the British Parliament was illegal because it violated the constitutional principles of the sovereignty of parliament and responsible government. Last December, the New Brunswick Court of Appeal ruled on the appeal filed by Democracy Watch and Mr. Crookes that the province’s fixed election date measures in its election law prohibit the Premier from calling a snap election for purely partisan purposes when an election favours the ruling party.

Calling a snap election in violation of B.C.’s constitution is bad – Premier Horgan calling a snap election during the COVID pandemic was even worse. Elections B.C. was forced by Premier Horgan’s cynical power grab-scheme to issue 16 emergency orders to change how polling stations will run and people will vote, and it will likely hurt voter turnout. Wayne Crookes filed an affidavit in support of the case setting out all the evidence about how bad the snap election call was.

Snap elections are unfair to opposition parties (as they are usually called when having an election favours the ruling party, as was the case in B.C.) and also to people who want to run as a candidate but can’t afford to suddenly drop everything and run. That’s why the federal Parliament, and every province, followed B.C.’s lead and have enacted fixed election date measures over the past 20 years.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Democratic Voting System Campaign and Stop PM/Premier Abuses Campaign

RCMP releases less than half of promised investigation records into obstruction of SNC-Lavalin prosecution by Trudeau Cabinet

RCMP disclosure in May false in every way – records show failure to obtain key records, acceptance of Cabinet’s claims, two-year delay by top officers

Public inquiry needed into why RCMP’s national command tried to cover up its investigation, and why they rolled over and didn’t prosecute anyone

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, October 16, 2023

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the 1,815 pages of records contained in 19 documents that the RCMP recently disclosed in response to it’s July 2022 Access to Information Act (ATIA) request for all records of the RCMP’s investigation of the allegation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Liberal Cabinet officials obstructed justice by pressuring then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin in 2018 (now operating under the name “AtkinsRéalis”).

Seven of the 19 documents have not been disclosed before. Three are fully redacted (Records #5-7 containing the RCMP’s legal opinion); one has several pages redacted (Record #4) and another a few pages (Record #2). The other 12 documents are already public. Click here to see the list and links to the records.

The RCMP’s Access to Information and Privacy (ATIP) Branch sent Democracy Watch an email and letter on July 20th to say that it had more than 4,000 pages of investigation records to review. This directly contradicted the Branch’s May 25, 2023 letter to DWatch responding to its ATIA request which attached only 96 pages of records and a letter that claimed, falsely, that 86 of the 96 pages were fully redacted because the RCMP’s investigation of the matter was still ongoing (in fact, the RCMP had concluded its investigation in January 2023).

The ATIP Branch sent Democracy Watch a letter on September 22nd disclosing the 1,815 pages of records, and stating that it is still reviewing and processing the rest of the investigation records (more than 2,185 pages) to determine if the ATIA secrecy exemption for Cabinet confidences applies to the records (Record #2, paras. 179-181 (p. 55); Record #4, pp. 43-75). The September 22nd letter does not say when the more than 2,185 pages will be disclosed, and the ATIP Branch did not respond to a follow-up email from Democracy Watch requesting an estimate of when the records will be disclosed.

The records show that, over an almost four-year period, the RCMP’s investigating officers only spoke to three witnesses concerning the obstruction allegation, Ms. Wilson-Raybould, Ms. Prince, and former Deputy Minister of Justice Nathalie Drouin (who became Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council Office on August 23, 2021). The RCMP never considered prosecuting anyone for breach of trust. Click here to see a summary of the content of the records.

The records also show that the RCMP continued to call the investigation an “assessment” so that it could say to the media that it wasn’t investigating, even though it is clear the officers were investigating (only in a very superficial way).

The records also show that the RCMP accepted the Trudeau Cabinet’s restricted disclosure order and didn’t apply to court for a search warrant or try to obtain secret Cabinet documents or the internal communications on all computers, phones and other devices used by the Prime Minister and other Cabinet officials, despite all of the suspicious and questionable actions by these people and SNC-Lavalin lobbyists (Record #2, paras. 82-83 (p. 30), 300-301 (p. 126) and 331-334 (p. 134); Record #3, paras. 5 (p. 2) and 21-23 (p. 7)).

Instead, the RCMP relied entirely on the public claims made by all these people which, of course, were all aimed at trying to make it seem like they had done nothing wrong. The RCMP also characterized all of the statements by all these people in a favourable way whenever possible, and always argued in favour of doubts concerning the success of a prosecution (Record #2, paras. 259 (p. 117); 278 (p. 121); 295-299 (pp. 125-126); 313-334 (pp. 130-134 – especially paras. 318, 320-32, 323-326, 328-330; Record #3, subparas. 9(e), (g) and (h) (pp. 3-4); paras. 15-18 (pp. 5-6), and; 19-20 (pp. 6-7)).

In addition, the records show that the investigating officer initially established that, to prove obstruction of justice in court, pressure must have been placed on someone to obstruct a proceeding in the justice system, and that such pressure had been put on Ms. Wilson-Raybould by Prime Minister Trudeau and various other Cabinet officials (Record #2, paras. 234 (p. 87); 239 (p. 88), and 249 (p. 111)) to obstruct the proceeding of a prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.

However, the investigating officer then switches the standard to require proof of “a corrupt intent to interfere” before a prosecution for obstruction would be pursued (Record #2, paras. 250-301 (pp. 111-126 – especially paras. 287-290)).

Finally, the records show that the RCMP’s national command took from March 2021, when it received the investigation report, until January 2023 to make its decision to conclude the investigation without prosecuting anyone. The RCMP has redacted key parts of the records that contain the actual legal reasons for the decision not to prosecute anyone (Record #2, para. 267 and part of para. 268 redacted (pp. 116-117); and Records #5-7 are fully redacted).

Overall, the records raise the following serious questions:

  1. Why did the RCMP not even try to apply to court to obtain a search warrant for any of the Trudeau Cabinet documents and records of communications (or parts of the documents or records) that were claimed to be “Cabinet confidences” even though they could have likely obtained some or some parts of the documents and records?
  2. Why did the RCMP national command wait almost two years to make its decision to end the examination of the situation without even doing a full investigation, let alone prosecuting anyone?
  3. Why did the RCMP national command try, through its almost two-year delay, to bury and cover-up its investigation?
  4. Who exactly in the RCMP was involved in making the delay decision and the decision not to prosecute anyone?
  5. Who did they communicate with while making these decisions, and did they communicate with anyone in the Trudeau Cabinet? and;
  6. What were the actual legal reasons no one was prosecuted?

“The records show the RCMP is a negligently weak lapdog that rolled over for Prime Minister Trudeau by doing a very superficial investigation into his Cabinet’s obstruction of the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, not trying to obtain key secret Cabinet communication records, and burying the investigation with an almost two-year delay,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The RCMP also misled the public by claiming it wasn’t investigating, violated the open government law by keeping investigation records secret much longer than is allowed, and is refusing to disclose the legal details why no one was prosecuted.”

“Given pressure by the Prime Minister and Cabinet officials to obstruct a prosecution is a situation that has not been revealed publicly before, and given no past court ruling makes it clear that the RCMP and Crown prosecutors could not win a prosecution, they should have tried to get a search warrant for secret Cabinet communications, and prosecuted so a judge could decide in an open court whether obstruction had occurred instead of making a behind-closed-doors and very questionable decision to cover up their investigation,” said Conacher.

“A public inquiry, with a fully independent, non-partisan inquiry commissioner chosen by all party leaders, is needed to determine why the RCMP’s national command tried to cover up its investigation, and exactly how and why they and Crown prosecutors decided not to prosecute anyone,” said Conacher.

“All of the RCMP’s conflicting actions and statements and the problems and delays with the investigation in Trudeau-SNC-Lavalin scandal are due to their systemic culture of excessive secrecy and lack of independence from the Prime Minister and Cabinet ministers who handpick the RCMP Commissioner through a secretive process,” said Conacher. “The RCMP consistently fails to enforce Canada’s anti-corruption laws in a timely, effective way, which shows the need for key changes that many experts have called for to make the RCMP more independent, effective and publicly accountable, especially when it is investigating politicians or government officials, or even better to establish a new fully independent anti-corruption police force including prosecutors..”

If the RCMP was committed to transparency and independent, effective law enforcement, it would have made it clear back in 2019 when the allegations were first made that an independent special prosecutor, appointed by all party leaders, would oversee the investigation and issue a public report when it ended that provided a summary of the investigation and details about prosecution decisions.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign, Open Government Campaign and Stop Unfair Law Enforcement Campaign

Elections Ontario letting parties, candidates, ridings, contestants hide whether lobbyists hold fundraising events for them

Elections Ontario claims requirement to disclose “location” of an event only means the town or city – email exchange shows agencies’ twisted logic and its own violation of Ontario’s election finances law

Liberals and NDP disclose address of event, PC Party often keeps it secret

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 10, 2023

TORONTO – Today Democracy Watch revealed the email exchange it had recently with Kevin Thomas, Elections Ontario’s Manager of Compliance Enforcement, in which he confirmed the agency is letting parties, especially Premier Ford’s PC Party, hide whether lobbyists are holding fundraising events for them. This violates the Ontario’s Elections Finances Act (EFAss. 23(5) and (6)) which requires that parties, riding associations, candidates, nomination and party leadership contestants disclose the exact location of fundraising events.

The public, and Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, need to know the exact location of events because if a lobbyist or anyone connected to any business or organization that lobbies any MPP or Cabinet minister or Ontario government department holds a fundraising event, it could create a conflict of interest that would mean restrictions on lobbying. Lobbyists are prohibited under Ontario’s Lobbyists Registration Act (s. 3.4) from putting a politician or government official in a real or potential conflict of interest.

Democracy Watch’s analysis, set out in the exchange of emails, shows that the Progressive Conservative Party in 2019 usually disclosed the exact location/address of fundraising events, but in the past few years often only discloses the town/city. The Liberal Party and NDP still disclose the exact address almost all of the time. The Green Party did not have any fundraising events on its website.

The word “location” is defined in the dictionary, including Black’s Law Dictionary, as a specific property. Mr. Thomas claims in his emails that Elections Ontario has since 2016 defined “location” in a directive to parties etc. as only meaning the town or city of the event. Mr. Thomas says in his emails that Elections Ontario refuses to disclose the directive, or the legal opinion that is the basis of the directive.

The EFA (clause 2(1)(k)) requires Elections Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa to publish all guidelines he issues to parties etc. (under clause 2(1)(j)) in the Ontario Gazette and on Elections Ontario’s website. Given Mr. Thomas claims that a directive was issued to parties etc. years ago concerning the definition of the word “location”, the directive should have been on Elections Ontario’s website for the past several years, and also should have been published in the Gazette.

The directive has not been published in the Gazette, and the word “location” is not defined in any of the guides Elections Ontario has published for Chief Financial Officers (known as a “CFO Handbook” – to see the handbooks, click here and follow the links).

Mr. Thomas claims in his emails that Elections Ontario will, finally, include the definition in its next version of the guides to be published in the new year.

For no good reason, and in violation of the legal requirement to notify the public, Elections Ontario and the Chief Electoral Officer has been secretly allowing parties, riding associations, candidates and contestants to hide whether lobbyists are holding fundraising events for them, which hides conflicts of interest that undermine the integrity of provincial policy-making processes,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.

“Elections Ontario must immediately change its position and require parties, riding associations, candidates and contestants to disclose whether lobbyists are holding fundraising events for them so that the public, and Ontario’s Integrity Commissioner, is notified every time a lobbyist is trying to buy influence over politicians by raising money for them,” said Conacher.

– 30 –

FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: [email protected]

Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign, Government Ethics Campaign and Stop Secret, Unethical Lobbying Campaign