Dear Prime Minister Harper,
The public has a right to know who gave you more than $2 million to help you win power, especially the identities of the biggest donors, so they can judge whether those donations have influenced your decisions as prime minister.
It has been proven in scientific clinical studies that even small gifts and favours can have significant and lasting influence over a person’s decisions.
In 2002, you campaigned and won the leadership of the Canadian Alliance Party. Since then, you have disclosed the identities of only 54 of the donors to your campaign. You have kept secret the identities of 10 of his biggest donors, and thousands of other donors, even though they donated more than $900,000 of the $1.1 million you raised for your campaign.
In 2004, you won the leadership of the newly formed Conservative Party and spent more than $2 million on your campaign. According to Tom Flanagan, you raised $2.7 million with about half (ie. about $1.3 million) coming from 1,829 donations of more than $200. Have you disclosed the identities of all of those donors, especially the biggest donors, and the amounts given?
When you campaigned to be party leader in 2002 and 2004, secret, unlimited donations by big businesses, including foreign-owned big businesses operating in Canada, were legal. Big businesses and their executives could have given you hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations, and their identities could legally remain secret.
However, legal does not mean ethical. According to international standards, to have ethical decision-making in politics the full details of the biases and conflicts of interest of all decision-makers must be disclosed to the public.
I therefore call on you to disclose, finally, who paid off your campaign costs so the public can determine whether those donations may still be influencing your decisions.
Finally, the federal Conservatives recently raised the annual donation limit for individuals from $2,400 to $3,000 (and during an election year from $3,600 to $4,500) to each party and its riding associations and (during an election year) its candidates. This has made it easy for a few executives from a big business or other organization to have undue and unethical influence over politicians by giving tens of thousands of dollars to a party and its candidates and riding associations.
Quebec recently lowered the annual individual donation limit to $100 specifically to reduce the undemocratic influence of big money in politics.
I call on you to decrease the annual individual donation limit to $100-$200 to help ensure that money cannot legally be used as a means of influence over politicians.
Please let me know when you will disclose your donors, and decrease the donation limit. I will be deciding how to vote in the next election based on the response I receive from you. I look forward to hearing back from you.