Ontario's police union and its largely Liberal donations

A few days ago, the Ontario Provincial Police Association released a couple of controversial ads in which it urged Ontarians to vote for anybody but Progressive Conservative leader Tim Hudak and, at the same time, tried to claim it was not endorsing either party.

Today, OPPA head Jim Christie was asked about these ads and the fact that the OPPA has donated thousands of dollars to the Ontario Liberal Party over the years, an apparently controversial move within the police union.. He said: “We’ve made it clear we have no issue with PC party just an issue with Hudak and where he plans to take future of membership. We donate to all political parties. I think over time we’ve actually donated more money to [Progressive] Conservatives.  it’s normal and part of our political activity.”

I’m not so sure about that last part. Going to Elections Ontario political contributions table and looking up the contributions to each of the three main parties for the last five years, one finds that not a penny of OPPA made it into supposedly union-friendly NDP coffers and that while the PCs got some OPPA cash a few years ago, they got nothing in 2012 and 2013 and none so far in 2013. In fact, since 2011, the only political party that has received OPPA cash is the Ontario Liberals. Here’s the tale of the tape derived from Elections Ontario:

2014 $- $- $-
2013 $7,400 $- $-
2012 $7,650 $- $-
2011 $13,600 $13,640 $-
2010 $5,200 $4,455 $-
Total $33,850 $18,095 $-

If the OPPA did, as Christie claim, give more the PCs or even give one penny to the NDP it must have been 2009 or earlier …


Election financing laws: Re-thinking restrictions on third-party spending

I am a great fan of Canada’s political finance laws and the reforms enacted by both the governments of Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper. Among other things, our political finance laws prohibit significant third-party spending during election campaigns. I’ve thought that this limit on freedom of expression was appropriate in that its aim was to provide fair access to the public common during a writ period. Mostly, I look to the U.S. and see the distortions in their political system because of Big Money. Obama will likely spend $1 billion on his re-election campaign this year. $1 billion! I would be surprised if the total spending in Canada’s federal election last year for every local candidate and the national campaigns in 2011 hit $100 million.

But now, after reading an interesting essay from  Pauline Beange, a University of Toronto scholar, I’m ready to re-examine some of my assumptions about the restrictions we have on political financing.  Continue reading Election financing laws: Re-thinking restrictions on third-party spending