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Backgrounder

Backgrounder on Key Loopholes in Canada’s Lobbying, Ethics, Election, Political Donation and Spending Laws that Allow for Foreign Interference

(March 2024)


Foreign-agent registry must cover all foreign-influence activities, not just lobbying

The proposed foreign-agent registry must require anyone or any entity to register if they are paid or compensated in any way, directly or indirectly, by a foreign government, foreign entity or foreigner, or have any other type of arrangement with them, to be involved in Canada in public relations/communications or any political activities aimed at influencing politicians, parties or governments.

If the registry only requires people or entities paid to directly influence Canadian politics (which are the only activities covered by the bills that former Conservative Kenny Chiu and Senator Leo Housakas proposed), then it will require nothing more to be disclosed than what is already disclosed in the federal Registry of Lobbyists (under the federal Lobbying Act), and foreign agents will easily avoid being required to register (as some lobbyists do) by arranging to be compensated for other services or in some other way while doing the influence activities for free.


Commissioner of Lobbying and so-called Ethics Committee gutted key ethical lobbying rules in ways that will increase foreign interference

As more than 40 lawyers and professors, and 26 citizen groups, and the Globe and Mail (twice) have called for, the House Ethics Committee must reverse its positions and reject federal Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger’s gutting last year of key ethical lobbying rules in the Lobbyists’ Code of Conduct in ways that will make secret interference in elections and secret activities to influence federal MPs easier for China and other foreign governments.

Commissioner Bélanger is gutting key ethical lobbying rules in the Lobbyists’ Code in ways that will allow lobbyists to secretly fundraise unlimited amounts of money for, and do significant campaigning for, politicians and their parties and lobby them at the same time or soon afterwards.

The so-called Ethics Committee also ensured loopholes were added to allow lobbyists to give MPs hundreds of dollars in gifts and meals annually, and also tried to convince the Commissioner to continue to allow lobbyists to give MPs trip junkets worth thousands of dollars annually.


Loopholes in lobbying law allow for secret lobbying

The federal Lobbying Act contains huge loopholes that allow for secret lobbying and hiding who is behind and funding influence activities such as ad and social media campaigns that appeal to voters to pressure MPs. Some of the biggest loopholes are:

  1. Lobbying and influence activities do not have to be registered, even if they are well-funded efforts by an organization, if the people overseeing or doing the activities are not paid specifically to do the lobbying activities;
  2. Businesses and organizations are not required to register and disclose their attempts to influence MPs if their employees all together lobby less than 20% of their work time, and;
  3. Even if a lobby group is registered, it is not required to disclose its source of funding (other than Canadian government funding) or how much it spends on its lobbying and influence activities.

Loopholes in ethics laws allow for unethical decision-making

Federal ethics rules have huge loopholes that allow MPs to have secret jobs, Cabinet ministers and top government officials to have secret investments, and everyone to participate in decisions that they profit from, and to act unethically in many other ways.

The Procedure and House Affairs Committee failed to address any of these loopholes when it reviewed MP ethics rules in secret last year and issued an initial report in June 2022. In fact, the Committee proposed, and the House approved on March 30, 2023, a new loophole in their ethics code that now allows lobby groups, including foreign-government sponsored groups, to pay for interns in MPs’ offices.

The Senate’s ethics code has many of the same loopholes, although it contains a few rules enacted in 2014 that, if the Senate Ethics Officer ever enforces the rules properly, will finally prohibit the unethical business activities and decision-making conflicts of interest by many Senators that the code currently allows.

Federal ethics laws also allow lobbying organizations to give MPs and Senators the gift of unlimited trips and junkets, and they are allowed to take their family members, staff and associates with them (known as the “sponsored travel” loophole).


Loopholes in election law makes foreign interference and influence easy

The Canada Elections Act has several flaws that make interference and influence easy by foreign-government connected or sponsored individuals, businesses and organizations, as follows:

  1. Individuals, businesses and organizations are allowed to collude with and provide secret support to nomination race contestants and party leadership race contestants;
  2. Non-citizens and people who are younger than 18 are allowed to vote in nomination races and party leadership races;
  3. The high donation limit of $3,450 annually to each party and its riding associations makes it easy to funnel large donations to candidates and parties through just a few people;
  4. The identities of people who donate less than $200 annually are not required to be disclosed, making it easy to funnel donations of less than $200 through many people to candidates and parties;
  5. Individuals, businesses and organizations are allowed to funnel money to each other to hide the actual source of funds used in election campaign spending;
  6. One wealthy individual, or a business with just a couple of shareholders, or an organization supported by just a couple of voters, is allowed to spend up to $1 million during the pre-election period, and more than $500,000 during the election campaign, trying to influence voters;
  7. Nomination race contestants, election candidates, parties and party leadership contestants are allowed to audit their own campaigns, which makes it easy for them to hide illegal donations and spending.
  8. (Click here to see infographic webpage and video about the flaws)


Lack of effective honesty-in-politics law makes false claims, misinformation and disinformation legal

Many types of false claims are allowed about election candidates, party leaders and MPs, and no enforcement agency has the power to order social media companies to remove false online posts or ads.

In November 2018, the Chief Electoral Officer and Commissioner of Canada Elections (CCE) both told the Senate that one of key rules prohibiting false claims, misinformation and disinformation is essentially unenforceable because it requires the CCE to prove that the statement was intended to influence the election.

As well, the Liberal government’s election integrity plan was too weak and focused on the twin charades of educating citizens to recognize misinformation (which is impossible unless you are an expert in everything) and cooperating with social media companies that continue largely ineffective efforts to stop misinformation.


Enforcement watchdogs are handpicked partisan lapdogs who lack key powers and accountability

Enforcement of Canada’s election, political donation, lobbying and ethics laws is very weak, as all the watchdogs are handpicked by Cabinet through secretive, partisan, political appointment processes and they all lack key powers.

The watchdogs also can’t be challenged in court if they fail to do their jobs properly.

Under the RCMP Act, the RCMP Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner and the Commanding Officer of each Division of the RCMP, are also all appointed by the federal Cabinet alone (no consultation with the opposition parties is required, nor is an independent, merit-based search for qualified candidates required) and all of them also serve at the pleasure of Cabinet (i.e. they can be fired at any time for any reason).

The Liberal government’s so-called “independent” Critical Election Incident Public Protocol Panel is not independent at all, as it is made up of public servants who were chosen by, and serve at the pleasure of, Prime Minister Trudeau, and the Cabinet Directive for the Protocol has several flaws that allow for coverups of foreign interference. If the Panel members are not fully independent of the government and all political parties, and the flaws in the Protocol are not corrected, then the Panel will continue to cover up foreign interference instead of reporting it publicly and stopping it.

Also, the Trudeau Liberals’ Cabinet Directive for the Protocol has several flaws, as follows:

  1. It is not legally binding on the Panel, and there are no penalties if the Panel violates any part of the Protocol;
  2. The section 6.0 process sets a much-too-high threshold for informing the public of interference (the interference essentially must threaten the ability of the entire national election to be free and fair);
  3. Even if the Panel decides (by consensus) that the interference meets the threshold, the section 5.0 process does not set any deadline by which the Panel is required to inform anyone of the interference;
  4. The section 9.0 Assessment also does not set any deadline by which a so-called “independent” report is required to be released about the effectiveness of the Protocol at “addressing threats” during the previous election.
  5. The section 9.0 Assessment is done by whomever the ruling party Cabinet chooses, so the assessor is not independent in any way. Trudeau’s Cabinet chose Morris Rosenberg, former head of the Trudeau Foundation when the Foundation received a $200,000 donation donation from two China-connected businessmen, to do the assessment for the 2021 election. Mr. Rosenberg’s contract terms have not been disclosed in the federal government contract registry.

Whistleblowers are not protected

People who blow the whistle on wrongdoing in Canada are not protected when blowing the whistle, and are also not protected from retaliation after they report wrongdoing. A key step in effective enforcement to prevent foreign interference is to establish a best-practice whistleblower protection system that protects anyone who blows the whistle on violations of any of the laws/rules listed above, including empowering the independent commissions to pay for a lawyer to advise whistleblowers of their rights, to reward whistleblowers if their claims are proven, and to protect them from retaliation and penalize anyone who retaliates against them.


See more details at Democracy Watch’s Stop Foreign Interference in Canadian Politics Campaign, Stop Secret, Unethical Lobbying Campaign, Government Ethics Campaign, Money in Politics Campaign, Honesty in Politics Campaign, Stop Fake Online Election Ads Campaign, Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign, Stop Unfair Law Enforcement Campaign and Protect Whistleblowers Who Protect You Campaign

Background on Key Problems that Make Ontario’s Judicial Appointments System Too Political

(February 2024)

To be eligible to be appointed as a provincial judge in Ontario, a person must either be a lawyer for 10 years, or a lawyer and then working full-time in a position that involves exercising powers and duties that are “judicial in nature” for a combined total of 10 years (See section 42(2) of the Courts of Justice Act, R.S.O. 1990, c. C.43).

In 1988, a Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) was established to search for and evaluate candidates to be appointed as judges.  The Ontario government’s Attorney General appointed 7 of the 13 members of the JAAC, and the JAAC submitted 2 or more candidates to the Attorney General for each open position.  While not ideal, the system was considered to be one of the leading systems in the world because of its level of independence from, and restriction of, political influence.

The Ontario government enacted Bill 245 in 2021, and Schedule 3 in the bill changed Ontario’s previous judicial appointment system.  The changes proposed to the Courts of Justice Act in Schedule 3 of Bill 245 made the Ontario system more political, partisan and Cabinet-controlled by:

  1. Increasing the number of members of Ontario’s Judicial Appointments Advisory Committee (JAAC) that the Attorney General appoints from 7 to 10 (of 13 total);
  2. Increasing the number of candidates the JAAC sends to the Attorney General for each judge position from 2 or more to 6 or more, and;
  3. Empowering the Attorney General to reject the entire list of recommended candidates and ask for a new list of candidates as many times as s/he wants.

Under Ontario’s system, the Attorney General is also allowed to consult with anyone, including ruling party members, about the candidates recommended by the JAAC.

Democracy Watch filed a submission in March 2021 with the committee of the Legislature that reviewed Bill 245 that criticized the negative effects the changes in the Bill would have on the independence and impartiality of Ontario judges.

The Advocates’ Society, the Federation of Ontario Law Associations, the Canadian Council of Criminal Defence Lawyers, the Criminal Lawyers’ Association, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and several associations representing racialized lawyers also all expressed concerns about the negative effect of Bill 245’s changes on the independence and impartiality of Ontario judges.

All of the above parts of Ontario’s system open up the appointments system to political interference, patronage and cronyism.

Ontario’s 2021 changes made Ontario’s appointment system similar to the federal system (the federal Minister appoints 6 of 7 members of the federal Judicial Advisory Committees (JACs), and the JACs send long lists of candidates to the Minister, who then consults with many ruling party politicians and members).

Democracy Watch has an ongoing court case now at the Federal Court of Appeal challenging the federal government’s system for appointing judges because it is open to political interference that violates the public’s Charter right to impartial courts, and the constitutional principle that guarantees the structural independence of judges so that the public can have confidence in the independence and impartiality of the courts.

Democracy Watch’s position is that the 2021 changes made Ontario’s system for appointing judges similarly unconstitutionally political and partisan.

The constitutional principle that guarantees the independence of judges and the courts has been upheld in several rulings on the measures in Part VII of the Constitution. And sections 7 and 11(d) (and, indirectly, 24(1)) of the Charter have been applied in rulings to ensure impartial court hearings.

Like Ontario’s previous system before 2021, the Minister in Manitoba (section 3.3) and in B.C. (section 21) choose a minority of the members of the advisory committee for their provincial courts (ideally the Cabinet should not choose any of the members).

Much better is Quebec’s system in which the Minister in chooses at most one member (in consultation with others) of the 5-6 member advisory committee (Click here and see sections 14-16 and 26).  Ideally, the Cabinet should not choose any of the members of the committees.

Also like Ontario’s previous system before 2021, the advisory committees in Quebec (section 26) and the UK submit only 1-3 candidates for each open judge position, and the minister is required to choose from that short list (and in the UK where the committee only submits one candidate, the minister must explain in writing to the committee if s/he rejects the recommended candidate).

Will RCMP Commissioner and officer answer key questions today about weak, lapdog Trudeau Cabinet/SNC-Lavalin investigation?

RCMP still hiding 2,200+ pages of investigation records in violation of the Access to Information Act

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:
Tuesday, February 27, 2024

OTTAWA – Democracy Watch called on MPs on the House Ethics Committee to ask RCMP Commissioner Michael Duheme and lead investigating officer Frédéric Pincince key questions when they testify today from 11 am to 1 pm about the RCMP’s investigation into the Trudeau Cabinet/SNC-Lavalin scandal.  Click here to see the list of key questions.

The Ethics Committee hearing is happening because the RCMP sent Democracy Watch a letter on September 22nd disclosing 1,815 pages of very questionable investigation records in response to DWatch’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”).

The disclosure of the records caused two MPs on the House Ethics Committee to file motions to call the RCMP and other witnesses to testify about why the investigation was so weak, delayed, secretive and biased in favour of the Trudeau Cabinet.  The Committee approved one of the motions and was supposed to hold the hearing on December 11, 2023, but the meeting was cancelled at the last minute by Committee Chair John Brassard.

In addition to hearing from the RCMP Commissioner and lead investigator today, the motion approves future hearings at which former Privy Council Office Clerk Michael Wernick, former Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion and (for some reason) very conflicted Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein (who should not be reappointed at the end of Feb.) will testify.

“The RCMP Commissioner and lead investigator must answer many key questions because the evidence that has been disclosed so far shows that 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, continues to violate the open government law by keeping thousands of pages of investigation records secret much longer than is allowed, and is refusing to disclose the legal details why no one was prosecuted.”

In violation of the ATIA, the RCMP is still hiding about 2,200 pages of investigation records, and the Information Commissioner’s office is investigating DWatch’s complaint about the RCMPs’ now 20-month delay in disclosing the records.

A recent disclosure of related RCMP records to DWatch contains on p. 123 an email dated September 29, 2023 in which Rita Lattanzi-Thomas, Senior Consultant in the RCMP’s ATIP Branch writes that the 2,200 pages of 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.” and that she is “hoping to have the remainder of the documents released on or before October 13, 2023.”  The records have still not been disclosed.

“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.

“If the RCMP does not answer the many key questions about its weak, lapdog investigation, and does not disclose all of its investigation records, then a public inquiry will be 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.

– 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

List of key questions the RCMP must answer about its superficial, weak, lapdog investigation of the Trudeau Cabinet/SNC-Lavalin scandal

The 1,815 pages of Trudeau Cabinet/SNC-Lavalin scandal investigation records disclosed in September 2023 by the RCMP to Democracy Watch raise the following serious questions (Click here to see a summary of what the records revealed, and a detailed list of, and links to, the records with page references):

  1. When will the RCMP disclose the 2,200 pages of investigation records that it has not disclosed since Democracy Watch requested them in July 2022 under the Access to Information Act?  Why is the RCMP still hiding these records even though its ATIP Branch committed to disclose them in October 2023?
  2. 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? And, when former Privy Council Office (PCO) Clerk Michael Wernick testifies before the House Ethics Committee, he must be asked why the PCO/Trudeau Cabinet refused to disclose the documents, especially given that the Cabinet disclosed all Cabinet confidence documents to the inquiry into the use of the Emergencies Act?
  3. Why did the RCMP only interview three witnesses – former Attorney General and Minister of Justice Jody Wilson-Raybould, her assistant Jessica Prince, and former Deputy Minister of Justice Nathalie Drouin (who was appointed Deputy Clerk of the Privy Council in 2021, and then in January was appointed as the PM’s National Security Intelligence Adviser)?
  4. Why did the RCMP rely almost entirely on public statements the PM, PMO staff, Cabinet ministers and their staff, and Mr. Wernick made, which of course were all aimed at trying to make it seem like they had done nothing wrong?  And why did the RCMP always characterize their statements in a favourable way whenever possible, and always argue in favour of doubts concerning the success of a prosecution?
  5. Why did the RCMP continue to call the investigation an “assessment” even though it was clearly an investigation (was it to hide the fact that they were investigating the Prime Minister and others re: a violation of the Criminal Code)?
  6. Why did the RCMP national command wait almost two years (from March 2021 to January 2023) to make its decision to end its superficial investigation of the situation without even doing a full investigation, let alone prosecuting anyone?  Why did the RCMP national command try, through its almost two-year delay, to bury and cover-up its investigation?
  7. Who exactly in the RCMP was involved in making the delay decision and the decision not to prosecute anyone?
  8. Who did they communicate with while making these delay and failure to prosecute decisions?  Did they communicate with anyone in the PCO or Trudeau Cabinet or Prime Minister’s Office (PMO)?
  9. Why did the RCMP’s investigating officer initially establish that, to prove obstruction of justice in court, pressure must have been placed on someone to obstruct a proceeding in the justice system (which the RCMP had clear evidence of), but then switched the standard to require proof of “a corrupt intent to interfere”? and;
  10. What were the actual legal reasons no one was prosecuted (the RCMP redacted from the records that were disclosed last September the legal opinion it received)?  Who made the decision not to prosecute, and who did they communicate with when making the decision?  Did they communicate with anyone in the PCO or Trudeau Cabinet or PMO?

Key Facts About Canada’s Undemocratic Big Money Political Donation and Loan Rules, and How to Stop the Unethical Influence of Big Money in Canadian Politics

The rules in Canada for donations and loans to political parties are unfair, undemocratic, corrupting and rigged in favour of a few wealthy voters, wealthy candidates, the big parties and Canada’s Big Banks, and is essentially a legalized bribery system

The only way to stop the unethical influence of big money donations and loans is to prohibit big money donations and loans

This video gives a brief summary of key facts and figures, and all the details are set out below



Voters are allowed to donate thousands
to federal political parties each year

The amount that a voter is allowed to donate each year to a federal political party grows each year by $25, so the amount was $1,525 in 2016 and the amount in 2024 is $1,725.

Each voter is also allowed in 2024 to donate another $1,725 to each party’s riding associations.

So the total amount each voter is allowed to donate in 2024 to each federal party and its riding associations is $3,450.

Wealthy nomination contestants that can afford it are also allowed to donate an additional $1,000 to their own campaign, and wealthy election candidates are allowed to donate an additional $5,000 to their own campaign, and wealthy party leadership contestants are allowed to donate an additional $25,000 to their own campaign.



But a large majority of voters only donate about $75 a year

Do you have an extra $3,450 laying around to donate to a federal party?

Did you know that, on average from 2016 to 2022, out of every 100 donors to the main Canadian federal political parties, approximately 75 donors donated only about $75 each year?

To see details about donations to the main federal parties from 2016 to 2022, click here.

NOTE: 2023 donation figures are not included in these calculations because final statistics for the number of voters who donated various amounts to a federal party in 2023 will not be available until summer 2023. To see the 2023 statistics that are available, click here.


Only about 5% of donors donate more than $1,000 to a federal party

Did you know that only about 5 out of every 100 donors donates more than $1,000 a year?

To put it another way, out of more than 27 million voters, on average only about 11,000 voters donate more than $1,000 a year to any of the main federal parties.


Wealthy donors use their big donations to buy influence

Because their donations are so much bigger than what most people give, those 11,000 donors, which again are only about 5% of all donors each year, donate on average

  • about 40% of the total amount donated each year to the Liberal Party
  • about 30% of the total amount donated to the Conservative Party
  • about 20% of the total amount donated to the NDP
  • about 17% of the total amount donated to Green Party
  • and about 11% of the total amount donated each year to the Bloc Quebecois

Donors who donate $1,000 or more donated on average 30% of the total average amount raised by the 5 main parties each year from 2016 to 2022.

So those wealthy donors who donate more than $1,000 are very valuable to the main federal parties, especially to the Liberals and Conservatives.

Studies conducted worldwide have shown that the best way to influence someone’s decisions is to give them something or do them a favour, and big money donors give a lot to politicians, which is a huge favour for them. Click here to see a summary of these studies.

There have been examples across Canada of wealthy donors using big donations to gain access to, and influence, politicians:

To see details about the top donors to the main federal parties, click here.

NOTE: 2023 donation figures are not included in these calculations because final statistics for the number of voters who donated various amounts to a federal party in 2023 will not be available until summer 2023. However, the available 2023 statistics show that donors who donated $1,000 or more donated about 46% of the total amount raised by the Liberals; about 35% of the Conservative total; about 19% of the NDP and Green Party total; about 17% of the PPC total, and about 15% of the Bloc total. To see the 2023 statistics that are available, click here.

Of course, parties supported most by wealthy donors benefit most from big money donations, as do nomination contestants, election candidates and party leadership contestants who are supported by wealthy donors.

Canada’s big money donation system also favours wealthy nomination contestants as they are allowed to donate an additional $1,000 to their own campaign, wealthy election candidates as they are allowed to donate an additional $5,000 to their own campaign, and wealthy party leadership contestants as they are allowed to donate an additional $25,000 to their own campaign.


Allowing big money donations also makes it easy to funnel large amounts of money to parties, including from foreign governments

Also, while it is illegal for a business, union, organization or voter to funnel money through other voters, because voters are allowed to donate more than $3,000 a year to federal political parties and their riding associations, it is easy to funnel tens of thousands of dollars annually.

Big businesses and other organizations can do this easily by giving their executives a bonus each year that they donate to the party that does the most for the business or organization.

It is impossible to charge or prosecute any business or organization that does this because all the executives have to do is say that they donated with their own money.

In fact, this has happened at the federal level and in every province and territory because they all, except Quebec, allow donations of more than $1,000 annually.  To see details about all of these donation-funneling schemes across Canada, click here.

When big money donations are allowed, it also makes it easier for foreign governments to funnel large amounts of money through individuals and lobby groups to influence Canadian politicians and parties.


No matter what problems concern you, as long as wealthy interests can use big money donations to influence politicians, it is unlikely politicians will solve the problems that concern you.

Democracy Watch needs your support now to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of big money on politicians across Canada!

Please donate now at: https://democracywatch.ca/donate/

And please go to StopBigMoney.ca and join the tens of thousands of voters calling for these and other key changes to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of big money on politicians across Canada!


Only about 240,000 voters donate to a federal party each year, and 9 out of 10 donate less than $500

What about the people in the middle of the 5% or so of wealthy big money donors who donate more than $1,000 and the 75% or so of donors who donate only about $75 a year?

Only 6 out of every 100 donors donates between $500 and $1,000, while 16 out of every 100 donors donates between $200 and $500.

Only a very small percentage of Canadians donate to any of the main federal political parties.  Out of more than 27 million voters, only about 240,000 donate each year, less than 1% of all voters:

  • about 173,000 voters donate only about $75 each year
  • about 38,000 donate between $200 and $500
  • about 15,000 donate between $500 and $1,000
  • and again only about 11,000 donate more than $1,000

In total, all the voters together donate an average of about $52 million each year to the main federal political parties.

To see details about donations to the main federal parties from 2016 to 2022, click here.


Federal parties spend most of what they raise each year, and rely on unethical big money loans from banks to pay for their election campaigns

However, most of the main federal parties spend almost all of the money they raise each year, and so when an election happens they don’t have very much money to pay for their election campaign.

So what do they do?  The 3 main parties, the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP, get huge loans of millions of dollars from banks and other financial institutions to pay 70% to 80% of their total election costs (and sometimes even more).

These banks and other financial institutions are covered by the federal Bank Act which is under the control of federal politicians.  So giving these loans is a huge favour that the banks do for the main parties, a favour that creates an appearance of a conflict of interest for all the politicians in these parties.

To see details about bank loans to parties, click here.


Tens of millions of your tax money is given to the parties each year, mostly to help wealthy donors and the big parties

Canadian taxpayers support the main political parties just as much.  Parties that receive more than 2% of the total number of votes each election – or 5% of the total votes in the ridings where the party runs candidates – get half, 50%, of the money they spent on the election back, reimbursed with our tax money.

Also, election candidates from any party who win 10% or more of the total votes in their riding get 60% of the money they spent on their election back.

On average, the 5 main federal parties all together receive about $34 million back after each election, and their candidates receive about $29 million in total back, paid for with our tax money.

Only 1 other party in one election (the People’s Party of Canada in 2021), and only a few other candidates in each election, have received these taxpayer subsidies since 2004.

To see details about how much the federal election reimbursement system is unfair and favours the main parties, click here.

You may be thinking – but aren’t small donations and big money donations equalized because small donors are allowed to deduct most of their donation from their taxes?

It’s true that all Canadians support federal political parties through the tax system as part of a donation can be deducted from income tax that a donor pays.

But, as with donations, the income tax deduction favours wealthy donors.

First, you have to pay taxes to benefit from the deduction, so people with low incomes, even if they have money to donate to a party, don’t benefit from the deduction because they don’t pay income tax.

Secondly, wealthy voters who make big money donations claim most of the tax deduction.  On average from 2017 to 2020, voters who earn $100,000 or more claimed almost half, 50%, of the about $27 million in total tax deductions claimed each year for donations to federal political parties.

Meanwhile, voters who earn $45,000 or less, the amount most voters make each year, only claimed 13% of all the tax deductions for donations.

To see details about who claims tax deductions, click here.


Conclusion: We need to prohibit big money donations and loans and, if public funding is given, make it democratic

So that’s how the rules in Canada for donations and loans to political parties are unfair, undemocratic, corrupting and rigged in favour of a few wealthy voters, wealthy candidates, the big parties and Canada’s Big Banks, and is essentially a legalized bribery system:

  1. A small number of wealthy voters donates a large part of the money each of the main federal parties raise each year (especially to the Liberals and Conservatives).
  2. The system favours wealthy contestants and candidates – if they can afford it, nomination contestants are allowed to donate an additional $1,000 to their own campaign; election candidates are allowed to donate an additional $5,000 to their own campaign, and party leadership contestants are allowed to donate an additional $25,000 to their own campaign.
  3. A small number of banks loan the main parties 70% to 80% of the total amount of money they spend each election.
  4. All taxpayers give about $27 million each year to the main parties in subsidies through tax deductions that mostly go to their wealthy big money donors.
  5. And after each election all taxpayers give the main parties about $34 million, and their candidates about $29 million, in direct reimbursements of 50% and 60% of the money they spent on their election campaign.

None of this is fair, ethical or democratic.

If we want to have a fair, democratic political system that is not corrupted by wealthy big money interests, the amount that a voter is allowed to donate to each party should be limited to the amount most voters give – only about $75 a year.

And the amount that any voter can loan to a party should also be limited to $75.

If the amount that a voter is allowed to donate and loan to each party is limited to only $75, which is again the amount that about 75% of donors donate each year, what would happen?

The main political parties would likely claim that they would have much less money than they have now, and that would cause problems for them reaching and informing voters, running their operations, and running their election campaigns.

But these would be false claims.

Remember, only about 240,000 out of more than 27 million voters currently donate to any of the main federal parties each year.  So the parties have more than 26 million other voters they could get donations from to make up the amount they would lose from stopping big money donations and limiting donations to $75 each year.

About 1 million voters belong to the 5 main federal parties.  So all the parties have to do is get about 500,000 more of those 1 million voters to donation $75 each a year and they would raise the same amount of money they raise currently each year. Again, that’s only about 500,000 extra new donors out of the total of more than 26 million voters who currently don’t donate to any federal party.

The Conservatives would need to convince about 220,000 more voters to donate to them, the Liberals about 170,000, the NDP about 63,000, the Greens about 30,000 and the Bloc about 10,000.

NOTE: 2023 donation figures are not included in the calculations in the above chart because final statistics for the number of voters who donated various amounts to a federal party in 2023 will not be available until summer 2023. To see the 2023 statistics that are available, click here.

Lowering the donation limit to $75 a year would make all the parties more connected with more voters, and more connected with the concerns of more voters, which is democratic.

Lowering the donation limit to $75 a year would also prohibit wealthy individuals and businesses and lobby groups (including foreign government-sponsored lobby groups) from using big money donations and big money fundraising events as a way of unethically influencing the decisions of politicians and party leaders.

With a donation limit of $75 a year, the only voters who should receive a tax deduction or subsidy for making a donation should be voters who have very low incomes.

What if the parties can’t raise as much as they raise now if donations are limited to $75 a year?

If the parties claim they can’t raise enough from donations to inform voters and run their offices, or that they can’t save some of their money each year so that they have enough to pay for their next election campaign, they should be required to prove both those claims before they are given any public funding.

If the parties can prove either of these claims, the best way to provide public funding is to match the donations the parties raise with public funding, so that the parties always have to convince voters to donate in order to get public funding.

If matching donations still doesn’t give the parties enough to run their election campaigns, a public fund should be set up to lend them money for their campaign based on the number of candidates each party has.

This will stop the Big Banks from buying influence by giving the parties big loans worth millions of dollars for their election campaigns.

And, to make the public election subsidies fair, every party should receive 50% of the money they spend on elections back from public funds, and every candidate should receive 60% of what they spend back.

Making these changes will make Canada’s political donations and loans system fair and democratic, instead of unfair, undemocratic, corrupting and rigged in favour of a few wealthy voters, wealthy candidates, the big parties and Canada’s Big Banks.

Making these changes will also help stop foreign interference in Canadian politics.

These same changes are also needed in all provinces and territories except Quebec which already has a $100 limit on donations each year and donation-matching public funding. 

Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Labrador and the Yukon have no limits on donations, and still allow donations from businesses, unions and organizations even from outside the province or territory.  They are the most undemocratic and unethical jurisdictions in Canada with their “best government money can buy” systems.

But all other provinces and territories also still allow big money interest to unethically influence politicians and parties, as they all still allow individual voters to donate from $1,200 up to $10,000 dollars annually to parties and their riding associations, which is much more than most voters can afford.


No matter what problems concern you, as long as wealthy interests can use big money donations to influence politicians, it is unlikely politicians will solve the problems that concern you.

Democracy Watch needs your support now to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of big money on politicians across Canada!

Please donate now at: https://democracywatch.ca/donate/

And please go to StopBigMoney.ca and join the tens of thousands of voters calling for these and other key changes to stop the unethical, undemocratic influence of big money on politicians across Canada!

Backgrounder

Backgrounder on Interim Ethics Commissioner Konrad von Finckenstein’s negligently bad enforcement record and the 6 new loopholes he has created in federal ethics laws
(February 7, 2024)


Konrad von Finckenstein was handpicked in secret by the Trudeau Cabinet and appointed Interim Ethics Commissioner at the end of August 2023, replacing Mario Dion who resigned last February due to health reasons, and replacing Martine Richard who served briefly as Interim Ethics Commissioner but resigned after serious questions were raised about her independence and impartiality given she is Trudeau Cabinet minister Dominic LeBlanc’s sister-in-law.

In addition to being handpicked in secret by the ruling party Cabinet, Mr. von Finckenstein has a long history in the federal bureaucracy, as well as ties to big businesses, that raise serious questions about his independence and impartiality.  Mario Dion was also handpicked in secret by the Trudeau Cabinet, and also had a long history in the federal bureaucracy, and a record of 8 unethical actions when he was federal Integrity Commissioner.

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 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.

The 6 new loopholes Mr. von Finckenstein has created are as follows:

  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, (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 profit from the decisions they make.
  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. (Click here to see his bizarre interpretation – #4 re: CER appointees).
  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. As mentioned above, see for details his ruling on 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.
  4. He is now allowing Cabinet ministers 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. As mentioned above, see for details his ruling on 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.
  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. He is doing this 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.
  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. Mr. von Finckenstein disclosed when he testified on January 20, 2024 before the House Ethics Committee that he had decided not to investigate 4 complaints about a former MP solely because the MP was no longer an MP.

See more on Democracy Watch’s Stop Bad Government Appointments Campaign
and Government Ethics Campaign pages.

Backgrounder

Background on the Trudeau Cabinet’s partisan, political, secretive and dishonest appointment processes for Ethics Commissioner, Commissioner of Lobbying and other key democracy watchdogs

Through 2016, the Trudeau Cabinet claimed that it was changing the Cabinet appointment process for key democratic good government watchdogs and other positions.  In fact, the Trudeau government did not change the appointment process at all other than adding the objective of diversity.

Then, in 2016-2017, the Trudeau Cabinet used the usual Cabinet-controlled, partisan and political process for appointing various democracy watchdogs.

With the Ethics Commissioner appointment process, the Trudeau Cabinet first misled opposition parties, the media and the public by falsely claiming there were no qualified candidates for Ethics Commissioner, and by falsely claiming that it had made the appointment process merit-based.

In a blatant violation of the federal Access to Information Act (ATIA), the Trudeau Cabinet hid the records for two years that made it clear there were five qualified candidates for Ethics Commissioner by spring 2017, and also qualified candidates for the position of Commissioner of Lobbying.

The Cabinet is still hiding the records concerning the appointment of Commissioner of Lobbying Nancy Bélanger, also in violation of the ATIA.

Through the 2016-2017 time period, the Trudeau Cabinet reappointed then-Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson to three 6-month interim terms after her 7-year term was over, as long as she kept letting Trudeau and her Cabinet ministers off for clear violations of ethics rules.

Then, in November 2017, suddenly Mary Dawson was informed she would not be renewed for another term after she informed Trudeau that she was going to find him guilty of violating the Conflict of Interest Act for accepting the gifts of family trips to the Aga Khan’s private island in the Bahamas, and after Democracy Watch challenged her short-term reappointments in court.

To replace Dawson, the Trudeau Cabinet handpicked in secret Mario Dion as Ethics Commissioner, even though he had a record of 8 unethical actions when he was federal Integrity Commissioner.

The Cabinet failed to consult in any meaningful way with opposition parties about the appointment of Dion as Ethics Commissioner and Bélanger as Commissioner of Lobbying.  All Trudeau did was send the opposition party leaders a letter saying the Cabinet had chosen Dion and Bélanger and the opposition leaders had seven days to let the Cabinet know what they thought about those choices.

Concerning other federal democratic good government watchdogs, former Ontario Liberal MPP Madeleine Meilleur admitted in spring 2017 before a House Committee that when she was considering ending her political career she had talked with Trudeau’s then-senior adviser Gerald Butts, and also his Chief of Staff Katie Telford, and asked to be appointed as federal Commissioner of Official Languages. Her statement became so politically costly to the Trudeau Cabinet that she ended up withdrawing her candidacy.

After Julie Payette resigned from her Governor General position in 2021, the Trudeau Cabinet admitted that she was not properly vetted for the position.

The Trudeau Cabinet has also handpicked, through partisan, political Cabinet-controlled processes, all of Canada’s other current democratic good government watchdogs: the Chief Electoral Officer (who was switched by the Trudeau Cabinet for secret reasons); Auditor General; Information Commissioner; Privacy Commissioner; Parliamentary Budget Officer, and; the Governor General (who plays a key role in judging whether a prorogation or snap election should be allowed, and who governs after an election).

30 years of changes we have won for you

Democracy Watch has won for you more than 200 democracy, bank accountability and corporate responsibility changes to federal, provincial, territorial and municipal laws across Canada (See details below).

Between now and 2026 is the biggest window of opportunity in decades to win more key democracy, bank accountability and corporate responsibility changes across Canada. Please click here now to support the campaigns winning these key changes.

No matter what issue or problem concerns you about governments or big businesses, these changes will help stop their bad decisions and abuses of power that harm you, your family, the environment and your community.

When Democracy Watch started up in fall 1993, all of the following undemocratic, unethical and secretive political and big business activities were legal across Canada (with just a few exceptions):

  1. Unlimited donations to political parties and politicians from businesses, unions, other wealthy private interests and wealthy individuals (except in Quebec)
  2. Secret donations to riding associations
  3. Unlimited spending during elections by businesses, unions and other wealthy private interests and wealthy individuals (except in Quebec)
  4. Secret lobbying
  5. Unethical decision-making by politicians and government officials
  6. Unethical lobbying
  7. False claims in government budgets and spending announcements
  8. Politicians having secret trust funds
  9. The PM and Premiers calling unfair snap elections
  10. Politicians leaving their position and becoming lobbyists right away
  11. Big businesses making decisions and doing things only to boost their profits
  12. Banks gouging and putting unlimited holds on cheques, and refusing to open accounts for people with low incomes
  13. Banks dodging billions in taxes every year

and

  1. Ethics laws or codes for politicians and government officials didn’t even exist in most parts of Canada (except in SK and for federal Cabinet ministers, but both were full of loopholes)
  2. Government officials enforced their own ethics standards (usually letting each other off for clear violations)
  3. Politicians enforced their own ethics rules
  4. Federal Cabinet ministers essentially enforced their own secrecy rules
  5. Federal politicians enforced many of the rules for Canada’s Big Banks and insurance companies that gave big donations to the politicians and their parties
  6. The fines for violating federal lobbying and election laws were too weak to discourage violations
  7. Whistleblowers were not protected from retaliation when they reported wrongdoing
  8. Banks faced a max. $500,000 penalty for violating consumer protection laws


After all these campaigns Democracy Watch has led, almost always by organizing and coordinating a national coalition of citizen groups to push all together for key changes, and filing strategic lawsuits

And with the support of people from across Canada

 

And after an average of 700 media appearances every year (click here to see details)

Many undemocratic, unethical and secretive political and big business activities are now illegal:

  1. Donations by businesses, unions and other wealthy interests are banned almost everywhere in Canada (except in Saskatchewan (SK), Newfoundland (NF) and the Yukon (YK))
  2. Donations by individuals to political parties and politicians are limited to $100 annually (in Quebec) or $1,000 up to a few thousand dollars annually (everywhere else, except again in SK, NF and YK)
  3. Donations to riding associations are required to be disclosed publicly at least every year
  4. Spending is limited during elections by businesses, unions and other wealthy private interests and wealthy individuals (except again in SK, NF and YK)
  5. Truth-in-budgeting watchdogs have been established at the federal level and in Ontario
  6. Politicians secret trust funds have been banned
  7. Ethics laws or codes have been enacted for politicians and government officials across Canada (although they have loopholes in them)
  8. Most lobbying is required to be disclosed publicly across Canada
  9. Ethics rules for lobbyists exist at the federal level, and in Ontario and B.C.
  10. Federal politicians who leave their positions are banned for 5 years from most lobbying
  11. Election dates are fixed somewhat at the federal level and in every province and territory
  12. Big businesses are now allowed to, and in some ways required to, make decisions and do things to protect the interests of all stakeholders
  13. Bank cheque holds are limited and they are required to open accounts for people with low incomes
  14. Banks are required to issue an annual Public Accountability Statement that discloses changes to their services across Canada
  15. Banks are now paying an excess profits tax and some of their tax-dodging loopholes are being closed

and

  1. Ethics watchdogs have been established to enforce ethics rules that apply to politicians and government officials across Canada (and, even though the watchdogs are not as independent as they should be, the Prime Minister and several federal and provincial Cabinet ministers have been found guilty of violating ethics rules)
  2. Lobbying watchdogs have been established to enforce lobbying transparency rules across Canada (and to enforce ethical lobbying rules at the federal level and in Ontario and B.C., and even though the watchdogs are not as independent as they should be, several lobbyists have been found guilty of violating the rules)
  3. The fines for illegal lobbying and illegal election activities at the federal level have been doubled
  4. The federal Information Commissioner now has the power to order the release of federal government information
  5. Bank gouging is now monitored by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC)
  6. Banks face a max. $50 million penalty for violating consumer protection laws
  7. Whistleblowers are protected in some ways when they report government and big business wrongdoing at the federal level, and in Ontario and Alberta

To see details about all these changes, click here.

But we need your support now to win even more changes to protect you and your family and the environment and your community from abuses and gouging.

No matter what issue or problem concerns you about governments or big businesses, these changes will help stop their bad decision and abuses of power that harm you, your family, the environment and your community.

How will these changes help? The changes we are going to win will require politicians and big business executives to be more honest, ethical, open and waste-preventing, and make them more accountable to you and all voters, which help stop their abuses of power.

Federal politicians, and politicians in Ontario, B.C., Manitoba and other provinces, will be reviewing their 7 key democracy laws, and key big bank, insurance and big business accountability laws, over the next couple of years. We need your support now to build 8 national coalitions, and to win 6 key lawsuits, all aimed at winning key changes:

  • to stop the influence of big money interests completely (including foreign-funded groups)
  • to stop all secret, unethical lobbying (including by foreign-backed lobby groups)
  • to stop all excessive government secrecy
  • to ban all secret investments by politicians and government officials in businesses they regulate
  • to stop all unethical decisions by politicians, their staff, and government officials
  • to stop all false claims that mislead voters
  • to stop all unfair snap elections
  • to stop all gouging by Canada’s big banks, insurance companies, TV, cell phone and Internet companies and other big business abuses of power
  • to protect all whistleblowers who report wrongdoing
  • to stop politicians choosing their own watchdogs (who often return the favour by acting like lapdogs)
  • to ensure strong, independent, effective and quick enforcement of all rules
  • and to ensure high penalties for all violations.


Please click here now and become 1 of the 1,000 Canadians giving $5-10 a month to make winning these changes possible

Thank you!  And please Share this page with anyone you think may be interested in helping win these key changes.

Summary of Contents of Records Disclosed on September 22, 2023 by RCMP in response to Democracy Watch’s July 2022 Access to Information Act request for all records of the investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by the Trudeau Cabinet aimed at stopping the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin

(1,815 pages total disclosed, with more than 2,185 pages still to be disclosed)

The summary below is a summary of the contents of the following 4 records, which are the only records of the 19 records disclosed that are not fully redacted or already publicly available:

  1. General Findings and Analysis: Trudeau II Report, by Sgt. Pincince, dated Sept. 6, 2019 (19 pages).
  2. Assessment Report: Obstruction of Justice – SNC-Lavalin Affair, by Sgt. Pincince dated Feb. 2, 2021 (134 pages).
  3. Conclusions and Recommendations: Obstruction of Justice – SNC-Lavalin Affair, by Sgt. Pincince and Sgt. Arbour, and signed by Supt. MacLean, dated March 4, 2021 (8 pages).
  4. RCMP “PROS” Record containing summary of investigation chronology and list of investigation records (75 pages with some pages fully or partially redacted (what happened on March 22, 2019 (pages 7-8) is redacted completely, and information appears to be redacted also from pages 14, 18, 23, 25-27, 34-38 and 40).

Records 5, 6 and 7, which contain the legal advice given to the RCMP concerning the investigation, are all fully redacted.

Records 8-19 are already publicly available, and consist of copies of:

  • the Public Prosecution of Canada’s Handbook (Record 8);
  • the August 2019 Trudeau II Report by the federal Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner (Record 9);
  • a compilation of publicly available news articles (Record 10);
  • two House of Commons committee testimony and evidence transcripts (Records 11-12);
  • four federal statutes (records 13-16);
  • two Government of Canada reports re: the consultation on remediation and deferred prosecutions for corporations (Records 17-18), and;
  • Anne McClelland report for the Government of Canada on the roles of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General (Record 19).

Click here to see the full list of 19 records.

The following is the summary of the contents of the above Records #1-4 listed above:

  1. The investigation, which began at the end of February 2019 by the RCMP’s Sensitive and International Investigations Unit, was mainly in the hands of RCMP Sgt. Fred Pincince (Record #1-3, and Record #4, various pages), and was overseen only somewhat by the Regional Crown Office of Ontario’s Minister of Attorney General (all names of people involved from that office are redacted: Record #4, pages 5 on), and more directly internally RCMP Legal Counsel, National Special Adviser – Financial Crimes Investigations John Ahern (Record #2, para. 317, page 130; Record #4, various pages (esp. pages 33-38)).
  2. The investigation is called an “assessment” by the RCMP, even though Sgt. Pincince is clearly investigating whether obstruction of justice ( 139(2) of the Criminal Code) or intimidation of a justice system participant (clause 423.1(1)(b) of the Code) had occurred. Whether anyone committed a breach of trust (s. 122 of the Code) was not considered at all by the RCMP (Record #2, paras. 10-11, page 9; Record #3, para. 3, page 1; para. 10, page 4; and para. 12-14, pages 4-5).
  3. Pincince evaluated the Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner’s August 2019 Trudeau II Report as part of the process (Record #1).
  4. The 16 times from August 14, 2018 to December 19, 2018 that PMO and Cabinet officials pressured then-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould or her staff to to stop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin are detailed (Record #2, pages 90-110).
  5. What happened on March 22, 2019 is redacted completely from Record #4, pages 7-8, and information appears to be redacted also from Record #4, pages 14, 18, 23, 25-27, 34-38 and 40.
  6. Wilson-Raybould met with RCMP officers on May 1, 2019 (Record #4, pages 12-13) and disclosed that she used a “burner phone” while abroad, and that members of her staff other than those she mentioned while testifying before the Justice Committee knew of the details of the situation. On Record #4, page 65, it is disclosed that the RCMP Sgt. Pincince asked her on May 1st not to disclose that she had met with the RCMP.
  7. On May 16, 2019, the RCMP requested from the Department of Justice a waiver and authorization for access to documents that Ms. Wilson-Raybould was not allowed to disclose to the House Justice and Human Rights Committee under federal Cabinet Order in Council 2019-0105, but that request was denied on August 30, 2019 (Record #2, paras. 82-83, page 30). The RCMP did not apply to court for access to the other documents, or for the record of communications on computers, phones and all other devices used by Prime Minister Trudeau and all the other Cabinet officials involved in pressuring Ms. Wilson-Raybould and her staff (Record #2, para. 300-301, page 126; paras. 331-334, page 134; Record #3, paras. 5 (p. 2) and 21-23 (p. 7))).
  8. 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, page 117; para. 278, page 121; paras. 295-299, pages 125-126; paras. 313-334, pages 130-134 – especially paras. 318, 320-32, 323-326, 328-330; Record #3, subparas. 9(e), (g) and (h), pages 3-4; paras. 15-18, pages 5-6; and paras. 19-20, pages 6-7).
  9. Investigating officer Sgt. Pincince 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, para. 234, page 87; para. 239, pages 88, and; para. 249, page 111) to obstruct the proceeding of a prosecution of SNC-Lavalin.
  10. However, Sgt. Pincince 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)).
  11. Wilson-Raybould met with RCMP officers again on September 9, 2019 and provided them with three documents (Record #2, para. 179, page 55; Record #4, pages 18-19)
  12. On Sept. 13, 2019, the RCMP began investigating lobbying activities regarding SNC-Lavalin (Record #4, page 19).
  13. On October 11, 2019, Sgt. Pincince met with Nathalie Drouin to obtain a witness statement, and she gave him three documents (Record #2, para. 182, pages 55-56; Record #4, page 20).
  14. In December 2019, the RCMP received a document disclosure from Ms. Wilson-Raybould (Record #2, para. 180, page 55).
  15. In January 2020, the RCMP received a document disclosure from Jessica Prince (Record #2, para. 183, page 56).
  16. On January 28, 2020, Jane Philpott met with the RCMP with regard to the Cabinet shuffle (Record #2, para. 185, page 56; Record #4, pages 26-27).
  17. Wilson-Raybould met with RCMP officers for a third time on Feb. 19, 2020 ((Record #2, para. 181, page 55; Record #4, page 30).
  18. On October 25, 2020, Ms. Prince met with RCMP officers, a meeting that had been first requested on September 18, 2019 (Record #2, para. 184, page 56; Record #4, pages 19 and 33-34).
  19. On February 2, 2021, Sgt. Pincince completed the investigation Assessment Report (Record #2).
  20. Sometime in March-April 2021, Supt. Mike MacLean supplied the investigation reports to RCMP headquarters (Record #4, pages 39-40; Record #3).
  21. On March 23, 2021, RCMP Supt. Mike MacLean sent an email to Sgt. Pincince that contained the following statements from RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki’s office (Record #4, page 39):
    1. We need confirmation that we spoke to prosecution and that we did not have enough to substantiate any charge
    2. Need to confirm that we pushed as hard as possible and explored every avenue to meet and speak to any/all witnesses
    3. Need to confirm that we have exhausted all avenues to get evidence.
  1. On Sept. 13, 2021, in response to a request from Supt. MacLean, Sgt. Pincince forwarded to the Commanding Officer of National Division the Assessment Report, Legal Opinion and Conclusion Report (Record #4, page 40).
  2. On Dec. 20, 2021, Sgt. Pincince received an email from Supt. MacLean that “a decision was made but had not yet been communicated” (Record #4, page 41).
  3. One year and one month later, on Jan. 25, 2023, Sgt. Pincince and Sgt. Lisa Williams communicated the decision to Ms. Wilson Raybould, and on Jan. 26 sent a letter to Conservative MP Andrew Scheer (Record #4, page 42).
  4. Almost four months passed before, on May 16, 2023, the investigation file was reviewed for conclusion, and on May 19, 2023 Sgt. Pincince informed the ATIP Coordinator of the file conclusion (Record #4, page 42).

List of Records Disclosed on September 22, 2023 by RCMP in response to Democracy Watch’s July 2022 Access to Information Act request for all records of the investigation into alleged obstruction of justice by the Trudeau Cabinet aimed at stopping the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin

(1,815 pages total disclosed, with more than 2,185 pages still to be disclosed)

Click here to see a Summary of the Contents of the Records

  1. General Findings and Analysis: Trudeau II Report, by Sgt. Pincince, dated Sept. 6, 2019 (19 pages).
  2. Assessment Report: Obstruction of Justice – SNC-Lavalin Affair, by Sgt. Pincince dated Feb. 2, 2021 (134 pages).
  3. Conclusions and Recommendations: Obstruction of Justice – SNC-Lavalin Affair, by Sgt. Pincince and Sgt. Arbour, and signed by Supt. MacLean, dated March 4, 2021 (8 pages).
  4. RCMP “PROS” Record containing summary of investigation chronology and list of investigation records (75 pages with some pages fully or partially redacted (what happened on March 22, 2019 (pages 7-8) is redacted completely, and information appears to be redacted also from pages 14, 18, 23, 25-27, 34-38 and 40).
  5. Advice Brief, undated, fully redacted (118 pages).
  6. Discussion Paper, undated, fully redacted (87 pages).
  7. Continuation Report RCMP Assessment, undated, fully redacted, reason given is that the 55 pages of the document are duplicates.
  8. Public Prosecutions of Canada – Desk Book (publicly available here).
  9. Trudeau II Report (Conflict of Interest and Ethics Commissioner report publicly available here).
  10. Publicly available news stories (not linked because they are all publicly available).
  11. Justice Committee meeting transcripts and submissions and briefs etc. from Feb. 21, 2019 and March 6, 2019 (not linked because they are all publicly available here).
  12. Justice Committee meeting transcript from Feb. 27, 2019 (not linked because it is publicly available here).
  13. Conflict of Interest Act (publicly available here).
  14. Department of Justice Act (publicly available here).
  15. Parliament of Canada Act (publicly available here).
  16. Director of Public Prosecutions Act (publicly available here).
  17. Expanding Canada’s toolkit to address corporate wrongdoing: discussion paper for public consultation (Government of Canada publication publicly available here).
  18. Expanding Canada’s toolkit to address corporate wrongdoing: what we heard (Government of Canada publication publicly available here).
  19. Review of Roles of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General (Government of Canada publication publicly available here).