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Democracy Watch calls on Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate Manning Centre and five “Proud” groups it funded for possible third party election disclosure and collusion violations

Given election law, and past court rulings, DWatch believes either Manning Centre or the groups are required to disclose the donors who funded the groups’ election ads

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, October 17, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent to Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté calling for an investigation into possible disclosure and election collusion violations by the Manning Centre for Building Democracy and five “Proud” groups it has funded to do election advertising this election.

According to this Globe and Mail article published yesterday, and this earlier Canadian Press article, the Manning Centre raised funds from donors for election advertising spending during the election, then transferred the funds (along with general revenues, more than $300,000 in total) to the five groups who have used it to pay for advertising.

The Manning Centre didn’t register as a third party even though the groups are really a front for its advertising spending, and the groups haven’t disclosed the identities of the Manning Centre’s donors, making the Manning Centre essentially a front group for the donors.

The Canada Elections Act (CEA) requires individuals, businesses, unions and other organizations to register as a third party if they spending more than $500 on partisan activities, election advertising or surveys during the election campaign period and, if they spending more than $10,000, to disclose (21 days and 7 days before election day), the identities of contributors who donate to pay for activities, ads or surveys.

The arrangement between the Manning Centre and the five “Proud” groups also raises the questions of whether any of the funds that the Manning Centre transferred to the groups was donated by foreign entities (which is prohibited under the CEA), and whether the six organizations are attempting to exceed the third party spending limit of $511,700 for this election by colluding together (which is also prohibited by the CEA).

The Supreme Court ruled in the 2004 Harper v. Canada case that the third party registration and donation disclosure requirements are intended to ensure voters and enforcement agencies are fully informed of who is actually bankrolling each third party, and so the law can be effectively enforced (See paragraphs 140 to 145 of the ruling).

“Given the rules in the federal election law, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in a past case, the Commissioner should investigate and rule that either the Manning Centre or the five Proud groups are required to disclose the identities of the donors who funded the election advertising they have done,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “The Supreme Court also ruled in the Harper case that the third party spending limit, and the anti-collusion rule, are needed to ensure fair, democratic election debates that are not dominated by wealthy interest groups, and so the Commissioner should also investigate whether the Manning Centre and the five Proud groups colluded in an attempt to violate that spending limit.”

No matter how the Commissioner rules on its complaint, Democracy Watch called on federal parties to cooperate to strengthen the rules, and the penalties which are much too low to discourage violations, before the next federal by-election or election.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179   Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign

Federal party leaders should agree on eight key rules for minority government to ensure fair post-election decisions

Rules should make clear which party will try governing first, when the legislature will open, what a vote of non-confidence is, what will trigger next election etc.

Should issue public statement of agreement on the rules, and then first bill passed by legislature should make the rules a law (as many other countries have)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Tuesday, October 15, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch called on federal political party leaders to learn the lesson of the post-Sept. 2018 election chaos in New Brunswick and agree this week on eight public, written rules for a minority government, as more than 80% of Canadians want. Even if Canada does not have a minority government after next week’s election, agreeing on the rules now will help ensure the legislature runs fairly and democratically through to the next election.

The rules should make clear: which party will get to try governing first; when the legislature will open; when it can be closed; what a vote of non-confidence is; when and how the opposition parties may get a chance to govern and; when and how the next election can be called before the fixed election date. (See Backgrounder below for the eight rules)

The current rules are unclear because they are unwritten constitutional conventions – even constitutional scholars disagree what lines they draw. The vagueness in the rules effectively allows the elected Prime Minister and ruling party to abuse their powers and violate the rules, as the only way to stop violations is for the unelected, unaccountable Governor General to decide that a violation has occurred and to try to stop the elected Prime Minister from doing what they want.

The Governor General, and lieutenant governors in several provinces, have almost never stopped a Prime Minister or Premier from doing whatever they want, and have allowed premiers to abuse their powers by not opening the legislature after an election, shutting it down arbitrarily for months, and calling snap elections in violation of fixed-election-date laws. The Governor General allowed Prime Minister Harper to call a snap election in 2008 in violation of the (too vague) fixed-election-date law, to prorogue Parliament in a very questionable minority government situation, and to declare many votes in Parliament as confidence votes even though they were clearly not confidence votes.

In England, Australia and New Zealand, political party leaders and MPs agreed years ago to clear, public rules so what happens after an election is fair for all the parties, and for voters. Most countries in the world also have clear, public post-election rules.

As well, a survey of more than 2,000 Canadians by Harris-Decima in November-December 2012 showed that 84% of adult Canadians want enforceable rules to restrict key powers of the Prime Minister and provincial premiers.

The Governor General also said last August in an interview with the Hill Times that he thought these unwritten constitutional conventions should be written down.

“There are no legal or other justifiable reasons for Canada’s political party leaders and the Governor General to fail to approve eight key rules for a minority government,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “It is clearly in the public interest that the rules be approved to stop unfair abuses of power by the Prime Minister and ruling party that violate the rights of Parliament and the democratic will of the majority of voters.”

After the eight rules are enacted into law, Parliament should, as the legislatures in England, Australia and New Zealand have, examine and enact other fairness rules to ensure the legislature and MLAs can hold the government accountable. The rules should cover the following key areas: what can be included in omnibus bills; the freedom and powers of individual politicians to vote how they want on resolutions and bills; how members of legislature committees are chosen, and; what a Cabinet can do during an election campaign period until the next Cabinet is chosen.

“As long as the federal rules for Parliament are unwritten and unclear, the Prime Minister and ruling party will be able to abuse their powers and Parliament’s ability to hold the government accountable will be undemocratically restricted,” said Conacher.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179   Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Stop PM/Premier Power Abuses Campaign


BACKGROUNDER

8 Key Rules for Minority Government

  1. Until the Governor General has communicated directly with all the party leaders, the Governor General will not make a decision about which party or parties (through either a formal coalition or legislative agreement) will be given the opportunity to govern first (i.e. to appoint a Cabinet and introduce a Speech from the Throne in Parliament);
  2. The party that wins the most seats in the election will be given the first opportunity to govern, including in partnership or coalition with another party, unless the leaders of other parties representing a majority of members of the legislature indicate clearly to the Governor General that they will not support that party and that they have agreed to form a coalition government or have agreed on a common legislative agenda;
  3. Within 30 days after the Governor General decides which party or parties will be given the first opportunity to govern, the Governor General and the governing party/parties will open Parliament with a Speech from the Throne;
  4. Even if the leaders of parties that represent a majority of members of the House of Commons do not indicate lack of support for the party that wins the most seats before that party’s Speech from the Throne, if they subsequently indicate lack of support for the Speech, the Governor General will not allow the Prime Minister-designate to prorogue the legislature before the Speech from the Throne is voted on by members of the House of Commons;
  5. If a majority of members in the House of Commons vote against the Speech from the Throne, the Governor General will give the opposition parties an opportunity to govern (through either a formal coalition or legislative agreement) before agreeing to any request by the Prime Minister’s to call an election;
  6. After the vote on the Speech from the Throne, the only vote in House of Commons that shall be a vote of non-confidence is a vote on a motion that states: “The House of Commons does not have confidence in the government.”
  7. If opposition parties introduce a motion of non-confidence in the governing party at any time after election day, the Governor General will not allow the Prime Minister to prorogue the legislature before the motion is voted on by the House of Commons, and;
  8. If a majority in the House of Commons votes to approve a motion of non-confidence in the governing party before the next fixed-election date, the Governor General will give the opposition parties an opportunity to govern (through either a formal coalition or legislative agenda agreement) before agreeing to any request by the Prime Minister that the Governor General call an election.

More celebrities coming to the VoteParty.ca to help young voters Make a #VoteDate — National #VoteParty on October 21st

Celebrity promo videos showing before movies in 160 Cineplex theatres across Canada

Please air the videos as PSAs on your TV or radio station (the audio track) before Oct. 21st – click here to see them on the VoteParty.ca website, and click here to see them on VoteParty.ca’s YouTube channel, and please contact info@VoteParty.ca if you need them sent to you in order to air them as a PSA

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Friday, October 11, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, VoteParty.ca released its second Canadian celebrity montage video calling on voters to Make a #VoteDate with a non-voter – all part of VoteParty.ca’s campaign to increase the number of voters, especially young voters, who vote. The video will be shown before movies in 160 Cineplex Entertainment theatres across Canada starting this Friday until Oct. 17th.

The second video features David Suzuki (environmentalist and host of CBC TV’s “The Nature of Things”), Lindsay Broughton (country singer), Greg Bryk (actor on Space TV’s “Bitten” and in Brad Pitt’s latest film “Ad Astra”), Mary Walsh (comedian and former co-host of CBC TV’s “This Hour Has 22 Minutes”) and Rick Miller (comedian, creator of the “BOOM” and “BOOM X” theatre shows, and former host of “Just for Laughs” TV show).

Last Friday Cineplex starting showing VoteParty.ca’s first Canadian celebrity montage video featuring Rick Mercer (comedian and former host of CBC TV’s “Rick Mercer Report”), Elena Juatco (actress from ABC’s “Open Heart” and CTV’s “JANN” show), MAGIC! (#1 song “Rude” and other top songs), Ashley Callingbull (actress and Mrs. Universe), and Michelle Morgan (actress from CBC’s “Heartland”).

Cineplex Entertainment has generously donated the cost of showing the videos at its theatres. Both videos are also available on VoteParty.ca’s homepage, and along with many other videos can also be seen on VoteParty.ca’s Celebrity Videos webpage.

VoteParty.ca isn’t urging young voters to vote, it’s inviting young voters to Make a #VoteDate at VoteParty.ca with a non-voter and take them to vote with you.

Don’t vote alone, Vote Party together.

Many other celebrities are also supporting the partner initiative VotePromise.ca including George Stroumboulopoulos, Patrick McKenna and Julian Taylor.

All are invited to come to the national #VoteParty on October 21st election night. Share your reaction to the election results, and what’s going at your local Vote Party, on Twitter with #VoteParty, and on Facebook at:
https://www.facebook.com/events/394589891203780/.

Vote Party promises to be a great party.

VoteParty.ca is an initiative of Democracy Education Network, since 1993 one of Canada’s leading civics education organizations.

Let’s get this Vote Party started!

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of VoteParty.ca
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: info@voteparty.ca
Internet: http://VoteParty.ca

Democracy Watch calls on Commissioner of Canada Elections to investigate Conservative Party and CAPP for possible illegal collusion

Conservatives and CAPP sharing same ad firm, and party leader shared events with CAPP members in spring

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Thursday, October 10, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, Democracy Watch released the letter it has sent to Commissioner of Canada Elections Yves Côté calling for an investigation into possible illegal election collusion between the Conservative Party and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP).

Set out in the letter to Commissioner Côté is the evidence that raises the question of whether the Conservatives and CAPP have violated the new rule in the Canada Elections Act (subsection 351.01(1)) that prohibits a party and a third party from colluding, including by sharing information, in order to influence the third party’s partisan activities, advertising or surveys during the election campaign period.

According to an article in the Globe and Mail, the advertising firm One Persuasion Inc., co-founded by Hamish Marshall who has been on leave since last June to be the Conservatives campaign manager, is providing services to both the Conservatives and CAPP.

This is the latest in a series of situations that raise questions about collaboration and support between the Conservatives and CAPP. According to another Globe and Mail article, last April CPC Leader Andrew Scheer and Mr. Marshall attended a private meeting with oil-industry executives that included Mr. Marshall speaking on a panel about using third-party interest groups to rally support for the party. Some of the executives at the meeting are members of the Board of Governors of CAPP.

According to a National Observer article, Imperial Oil sponsored a gala dinner event that was held on May 15th in Ottawa and then, due to a “last minute” seating change, Imperial Oil’s CEO Rich Kruger, who is a member of the Board of Governors of CAPP, sat beside Andrew Scheer and lobbied him. And according to another Globe and Mail article, a June 4th fundraising event for the CPC attended by Andrew Scheer was organized by several energy company executives.

“The anti-collusion rules are aimed at ensuring fair and democratic elections, and preventing lobby groups from unethically helping political parties and leaders get elected, and the relationship between the Conservatives and oil and gas companies warrants investigation by the elections commissioner to ensure the rules have not been violated,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch.

Democracy Watch’s position is that, to find a violation of the anti-collusion rule, the Commissioner is not required to find proof that CAPP undertook an activity, advertisement or survey because of the sharing of information with the Conservatives. Instead, all the Commissioner needs to find is evidence that information was shared “in order to influence” CAPP’s activities, ads or surveys.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179   Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Money in Politics Campaign

Le PartyVote.ca commence aujourd’hui – Le #partyvote national aura lieu le 21 octobre

Regardez l’annonce vidéo PartyVote.ca avant chaque film dans tous les cinémas Cineplex le 4-17 octobre

Fixez un #rendezvousdevote à PartyVote.ca avec une personne qui ne vote pas

COMMMUNIQUÉ DE PRESSE
POUR DIFFUSION IMMÉDIATE
03 octobre 2019

OTTAWA – Aujourd’hui, PartyVote.ca a lancé sa nouvelle initiative nationale visant à augmenter le nombre d’électeurs, notamment les jeunes électeurs, qui votent.

Regardez l’annonce vidéo PartyVote.ca, avec Florence K, musicienne et animateur du programme radio « C’est formidable », avant chaque film dans tous les cinémas Cineplex le 4-17 octobre. Vous pouvez regarder l’annonce aussi ici et http://PartyVote.ca.

PartyVote.ca n’exhorte pas les jeunes électeurs à aller voter, il invite les jeunes électeurs à fixer un #rendezvousdevote avec un jeune qui ne vote pas et d’aller voter ensemble.

Ne votez pas seul, allez voter ensemble.

Ensuite, venez au #PartyVote national le 21 octobre au moment de la soirée électorale. Partagez votre réaction aux résultats des élections et dites ce qui se passe à votre « party » local sur Twitter et Instagram en utilisant le mot-clic #PartyVote, et sur Facebook à : https://www.facebook.com/events/982691178745019/

Le « party vote » se promet d’être une grande fête.

PartyVote.ca est une initiative du Réseau d’éducation de la démocratie, l’une des principales organisations canadiennes d’éducation civique établie depuis 1993.

Commençons maintenant ce « party » pour célébrer le vote!

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POUR OBTENIR DE PLUS AMPLES RENSEIGNEMENTS :

Duff Conacher, Coordonnateur
Cell: 416-546-3443
Courriel: info@partyvote.ca
Internet: http://PartyVote.ca

 

Celebrities coming to VoteParty.ca to help young voters vote — National #VoteParty on Election Night October 21st

VoteParty.ca ad running before all movies in Cineplex theatres across Canada Oct. 4-17 with message:
Make a #VoteDate at VoteParty.ca and take a non-voter to vote with you

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Monday, September 30, 2019

OTTAWA – Today, VoteParty.ca launched its national effort to increase the number of voters, especially young voters, who vote in the federal election, following up on its successful effort during the 2015 fall federal election that reached 3.5 million people across Canada.

The launch includes a Canadian celebrity montage video on the http://VoteParty.ca homepage featuring Rick Mercer, MAGIC! (#1 song “Rude”), Ashley Carlingbull (actress and Mrs. Universe), Michelle Morgan (from CBC’s “Heartland”) and Elena Juatco (from CTV’s “Jann”).

Cineplex is generously supporting this initiative by showing the VoteParty.ca video before all movies in 162 Cineplex theatres across Canada from this Friday, October 4th until Thursday, Oct. 17th. The company will also be livestreaming the federal election leadership debates in 24 of its theatres across the country. Canadians can reserve free tickets by visiting http://Cineplex.com/Events

VoteParty.ca will also soon release videos by many other well-known Canadians, as will its partner initiative http://VotePromise.ca.

VoteParty.ca isn’t urging young voters just to vote, it’s also encouraging them to:
Make a #VoteDate with a non-voter and take them to vote with you.

Don’t vote alone, Vote Party together.

And then all are invited to come to the national #VoteParty on October 21st election night. Share your reaction to the election results, and what’s going on at your local Vote Party, on Twitter with #VoteParty, and on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/394589891203780/

Vote Party promises to be a great party.

Anyone who wants to invite other people in their area to a local Vote Party on October 21st can upload their party details, and if they want send out invitations at: http://www.voteparty.ca/vote_parties

VoteParty.ca is an initiative of Democracy Education Network, since 1993 one of Canada’s leading civics education organizations.

Let’s get this Vote Party started!

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of VoteParty.ca
Cell: 416-546-3443
Email: info@voteparty.ca
Internet: http://VoteParty.ca

Democracy Watch comments on Ethics Commissioner ruling that agreed with its complaint that PM Trudeau violated the federal ethics law by pressuring Attorney General to drop SNC-Lavalin prosecution

DWatch considering court challenge of part of Ethics Commissioner’s ruling that actions of other Trudeau PMO and Cabinet ministers and staff not covered by the ethics law as they were directed by Trudeau

RCMP must issue public explanation if they decide not to prosecute PM for obstruction of justice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Wednesday, August 14, 2019

OTTAWA — Today, Democracy Watch applauded the part of the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling that found Prime Minister Trudeau violated section 9 the Conflict of Interest Act by improperly trying to influence the Attorney General to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin. The ruling agreed completely with the points argued in the complaint Democracy Watch filed on February 8, 2019, which can be seen here.

The Ethics Commissioner’s ruling can be seen here.

Democracy Watch filed a follow-up complaint on March 5, 2019 about other PMO officials, Cabinet ministers and their staff also pressuring the Attorney General. That complaint can be seen here.

Unfortunately, in paragraphs 262-281 of his ruling (pages 41-44), the Ethics Commissioner summarizes the actions of PMO officials, Cabinet ministers and their staff that put pressure on the Attorney General. However, in paragraphs 282-286, the Ethics Commissioner excuses the actions of everyone except Prime Minister Trudeau on the very questionable basis that the other officials “could not have influenced the Attorney General” and were acting “under the direction or authority of the Prime Minister…”

Attempting to influence the Attorney General violates Rule 9, and these officials attempted to influence the Attorney General — it is irrelevant whether they had the same power over the PM as the PM has. For this reason, DWatch is considering challenging this part of the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling in court.

“The Ethics Commissioner made the right ruling by finding Prime Minister Trudeau guilty of violating the ethics law for pressuring the Attorney General to drop the prosecution of SNC-Lavalin, but he should have also found other PMO and government officials guilty because they also pressured the Attorney General,” said Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch. “Democracy Watch is considering challenging in court the part of the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling that lets the other PMO and government officials off the hook given they, like the Prime Minister, clearly violated the federal ethics law.”

Given the evidence in the Ethics Commissioner’s ruling, Democracy Watch also called on the RCMP to issue a full, public explanation before the election if they decide not to prosecute the PM for obstruction of justice.

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT:
Duff Conacher, Co-founder of Democracy Watch
Tel: (613) 241-5179   Cell: 416-546-3443
info@democracywatch.ca

Democracy Watch’s Government Ethics Campaign