Doug Ford's PCs are playing fast and loose with fundraising laws - 2019-04-20
After co-signing a lengthy letter last month urging Elections Ontario to investigate serious concerns with political fundraising, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath had to dash off yet another one this week. The leader of the opposition asked Elections Ontario to add to her list of concerns the Progressive Conservatives' "blatant attempt" to exceed contribution limits by continuing to use Premier Doug Ford's leadership campaign to raise funds.
Asking well-heeled donors to donate the legal maximum to the party and Ford's leadership fund, as outlined in a Globe and Mail article, is essentially doubling up on individual contribution limits. Since Ford's leadership campaign is both long over and debt-free that money, more than half a million dollars so far, by law must be transferred to the party. All this, according to Ford, amounts to nothing more than following "the rules" and "taking an opportunity to raise some funds." True enough, up to a point.
But the rule allowing leadership campaigns to raise money long after they're over was intended to clear debt, not to be used as a backdoor to raising more money for the party. There simply don't seem to be any weaknesses in fundraising laws that Ford's PCs don't seek to exploit. Worse still, in the other cases brought to light by the Star, Ford's government either rolled back restrictions that were in place or created the very loophole ripe to be exploited. Last November, the government weakened legislative reforms, unanimously passed in 2016, that banned corporate and union donations in an effort to end the discredited cash-for-access system that undermines democracy. The government left the ban itself in place but removed the prohibition on MPPs and cabinet ministers from headlining big fundraising events. That, singlehandedly, revives the whole notion of cash-for-access.