Saturday, March 16, 2013

Election financing reform needed

We have finance rules and they have to be followed. That said, the rules as they exist are far too limiting. I can easily imagine this situation happening with a volunteer who was trying to act properly and made a mistake. That doesn't excuse it but it does explain it. 

We should allow donations of up to $6,000 from anyone - unions and corporations included. We should have maximum campaign spending limits to a reasonable figure - say no more than $150,000 for each federal riding (maybe more for risings requiring a lot of travel). We don't want to get to the American system but what we have is too strict. 

Penashue's former agent 'unintentionally' accepted corporate donation

The "inexperienced volunteer" former Conservative minister Peter Penashue blamed for "ineligible donations" made to his 2011 federal election campaign says he "unintentionally" accepted at least one corporate donation, which is illegal under Canadian law.


Bluegreenblogger said...

Hmmm. I dunno about that. I have managed a bunch of Green Party campaigns before, and I cannot see how even the most ignorant Financial Agent could make these mistakes un-wittingly. You cannot open up your info package from EC without these exact facts staring you in the face in bold print. Please note, it is NOT small, earnest, and honest campaigns that tend to make these particular errors. It is those campaigns that skate right up to the line in spending limits battling for 'the prize' that seem to suffer 'clerical errors' that slip over the boundary. Let one single campaign auditor get hung out to dry for assisting in airbrushing such details from the record, and the practice will stop dead in it's tracks. A succesful prosecution, and conviction of a financial agent, or Candidate will go even further, by preventing the 'error' in the first place. The types of errors that in-experienced financial agents are likely to make is in differentiaing between Candidate personal, and campaign expenses. Differentiating between fundraising, and campaign expenses has a fair number of grey areas also. Of course, those particular grey areas are exploited by well financed campaigns everywhere. It is what the in-and-out scandal was predicated on, splitting hairs in the grey areas.

Anonymous said...

Heh. "Inexperienced volunteer" as though to conjure the image of some earnest 20 year old totally new to that compicated election stuff.

From Alison's Creekside, the official agent was Reg Bowers. Mr. Bowers was later appointed by Minister Oliver to the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board. "The CNLOPB bio describes Bowers as 'having extensive business involvement' and 'a Bachelor of Commerce' as well as 'post secondary work with the Canadian Institute of Chartered Accountants.'"

Even if the inexperienced volunteer was the stereotypical young guy, Penashue is ultimately responsible for approving him in the first place. The Sixth Estate suggests a hypothetical situation where you give a random homeless dude a $10 gift card to do your taxes. That sort of excuse would never fly with the CRA. And the governing of the country is far more important than a single individual's taxes.

Bluegreenblogger said...

@ anon, that is old hat. If you consider the case of Del Maestro, or the in-and-out affair, skirtingthe rules, or even outright breaches are comonplace. To argue they are accidental is possible in each seperate incident, but add them up and a pattern emerges. That was the case with the in and out, a pattern of dozens of identical 'clerical errors', and over-interpretations. When EC failed to pursue the two Senators who orchestrated the whole sacm, they sent a message that fines may happen, but there will be no real consequences. I will go outon a limb and say that based on the publicly available information. (verified photocopies of illegal cheques) the Del Mastro case was egregious, and a slam dunk for a prosecution. let it be prosecuted, and the full sanctions applied, and the 2015 campaign will be the squeaky-cleanest campaign in Canadian history.

Stephen Downes said...

> I can easily imagine this situation happening with a volunteer who was trying to act properly and made a mistake.

An inexperienced young volunteer trying to act properly would not make this sort of mistake. This is the sort of mistake only a battle-worn crony bagman can make.

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robert_viera said...

Our rules regarding political contributions should encourage people to contribute to political campaigns for the right reasons.

We need to limit contributions to political campaigns to people who are eligible to vote in those campaigns. That means only people who are eligible to vote in a riding can donate to campaigns in that riding. If they want to donate to a party, allow them to contribute only to the party's local riding association.

I think this would go a long way in preventing people from contributing to campaigns for the wrong reasons.

Corporations are not permitted to vote, so why should they be permitted to influence campaigns by contributing money?

Non-citizens are not permitted to vote, so why are they allow to influence the outcome of elections by contributing money to campaigns?

While they're at it, they should bring the tax credit for political contributions in line with other tax credits and not the 50-75% subsidy that taxpayers are providing now.

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