2016—2017 · Vol. 44 No. 4


2016—2017 · Vol. 44 No. 4



New elections law bans union donations

With the new calendar year of 2017, Ontario’s new Election Finances Statute Law Amendment Act will come into force. The bill enacting the new law was passed with all-party support, despite opposition party objections that the bill did not properly involve all-party input.

One of the most significant changes affecting OSSTF/FEESO is that union financial contributions to political candidates and parties will be prohibited. The bill will also prohibit corporate donations.

During public hearings on the proposed legislation, OSSTF/FEESO’s brief called for a ban on corporate and union donations, and argued for greater public financing of the electoral process.

The final amended bill incorporated some of these ideas including the introduction of public subsidies. The legislation will introduce voter subsidies annually on a per-vote allowance of $2.71 for every vote received in the previous general election. As well, each constituency will divide $25,000 annually amongst the contending parties based on the previous election’s results.

The legislation also makes an effort to help ameliorate the influence of wealthy contributors by limiting individual political donations to $3,600 per year, down significantly from the current $33,250.

The legislation also addresses complaints from some that third-party groups were exercising undue influence on the election process. Third-party political advertising will be limited to $100,000 for the six months prior to an election. Previously, no restrictions existed on third-party advertising. Also, a $1 million cap on each political party six months before the election will be imposed.

Among other changes in election financing, MPPs, Cabinet Ministers, candidates, party leaders, nomination contestants, leadership contestants and chiefs-of-staff will be banned from attending political fundraising events. However, MPPs are free to make phone calls to solicit contributions to events.

Many hope that these profound changes to Ontario’s election financing rules will be a positive step towards removing the influence of private money in the electoral process.

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