London was the latest city to host public hearings on a bill to reform how provincial politicians raise money, but after the day-long session, opposition members say the bill “still needs work” before it becomes law.
In a statement after the hearing, four PC MPPs, including Elgin–Middlesex–London representative Jeff Yurek, who serves as his party’s finance critic, issued a statement saying that the bill, in its current form, falls short of tackling some necessary issues.
“Bill 201 needs to ensure elections are contested on a level playing field,” said Yurek. “The committee has heard that government advertising should be restricted to prevent the government using taxpayer money to run self-congratulatory advertisements. Premier Wynne and her Liberal Government need to listen to the input received at these committees, close these loopholes, and restore the people of Ontario’s trust in democracy.”
The Ontario legislature’s Standing Committee on General Government is touring the province–this week in southwestern Ontario–to hold discussions on Bill 201, dubbed the Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act.
The process of Bill 201 was kick-started in part following a media report that Liberal cabinet ministers had been given quotas for raising political cash, and were jockeying face-time for as much as $10,000 a head at fundraisers.
This week, a Globe and Mail report revealed that ministerial staffers are often using personal contact details to serve as points of contact for fundraisers. The report also cited stakeholders as saying that they are often ignored or given the cold shoulder if they don’t agree to donate through Liberal Party events.
“We heard the same concerns here in London, that we have heard from residents from all across Ontario, that the Wynne Liberals’ fundraising bill does not go nearly far enough and that there remain a number of significant loopholes,” said PC deputy leader and MPP Steve Clark. “This bill does nothing to address the years of Liberal scandal that have tainted Ontarians’ trust in our democratic system. A public inquiry is still needed to explore possible links between the Liberal Party’s fundraising and the awarding of government contracts.”
Clark appeared Wednesday afternoon on AM980’s the Andrew Lawton Show, saying that the bill needs to rein in corporate donations of cash, but also in-kind donations of goods and services. Clark also said that ending cash-for-access needs to be a priority, and isn’t under the current legislation.