Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Stephen Taylor on Democracy Watch

Let's review:
The Liberals have many more donors donating more than $1,000 than all the other parties combined. (DW suggests the max limit should be reduced to $1,000 as most Canadians cannot afford to give as much as $5,000)

Gomery has revealed that the Liberals have allegedly used undeclared corporate-bankrolled "volunteer" labour to work election campaigns in Quebec.

The Liberal Party receives four times more money from riding associations and candidates than all the other parties combined. Remember that the identity of donors who donate to a candidate or riding association and then have their donation transferred to a party are not required to be disclosed quarterly, allowing parties to hide the identity of donors for up to 18 months.

Where does Democracy Watch find fault in the Conservative Party of Canada?

In a year where a commission of inquiry hears evidence about hundreds of thousands of dollars flowing to the Liberal Party in unreported, illegal cash and in-kind contributions, allegedly in exchange for favoritism in government ad contracts, Democracy Watch is worried about $85-a-year donors corrupting the process of government in Canada.

The Conservative Party has the largest base of individual financial support to the party and the party has raised the greatest sum of cash from these individuals. While Conservatives receive a substantial proportion of donations in the under $200 range, most of these donations are likely from Ma and Pa Conservative rather than funneled through corporations as the Liberals have been found to do. The only criticism leveled against the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Green Party is more appropriately directed at the system. The Liberal legislation allows anonymous contributions under $200 and it is not fair to say "all Canadians should assume that they are voting for politicians who lack integrity and have no problem with being corrupted by secret donations". The non-Liberal parties, including the Conservatives, are merely participants in a system governed by the rules written by Chretien and the Liberals.

Democracy Watch loses credibility in publishing such a report that damns all parties to the same degree while it is evident that the abuses are perpetrated by the Liberals. The suspicion of impropriety of the other parties is not a function of their fundraising practices, but of the defined system. One would think that instead of focusing on pithy $200-a-year undeclared donations that are most likely coming from genuine individual supporters of the Conservatives, NDP, Bloc and Green Party, Democracy Watch should first focus upon the need to stop the massive funnelling of illegal cash and corporate in-kind donations to the Liberal party.