It’s not often when I have an ideological disagreement with the esteemed Stephen Taylor, but on the subject of Third Party spending limits I must take issue (“Tim Hudak shirks ideology for expediency.”)
Stephen seems to feel that Tim Hudak is selling out by backing the Ontario Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa’s recommendation that third-party election-period spending and contribution limits be reviewed with an eye to tightening up the rules.
Since Stephen is Director at the National Citizens Coalition I can understand his concern about what he sees as an impediment to free speech, but the reality is that union-based Third Parties hold incredible financial clout and can seriously undermine a perceived ‘enemy’ during the writ period.
We saw that with ‘Working Families’ and the ETFO in the last election.
The Sun has the numbers:
The 2011-12 Elections Ontario annual report filed with the legislature on Monday says that “third parties” spent more than $6 million on election advertising, a three-fold increase over the 2007 campaign.
The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) was the biggest spender with a political advertising budget of $2.7 million, followed by the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association (OECTA) at $1.9 million and the Working Families Coalition at $1 million.
Chief Electoral Officer Greg Essensa is recommending an independent body be established to look at third-party spending and contribution limits, stronger reporting requirements for third parties and stricter registration and anti-collusion provisions.
“The current rules for third parties are inconsistent with how other political entities are treated under the Election Finances Act,” the annual report states.
“Candidates, constituency associations and political parties are all subject to annual campaign reporting requirements, as well as campaign period spending limits and annual campaign contribution limits.”
At the very least there should be full financial disclosure and ideally a chance for union members to opt out. But as I noted in a comment at Stephen’s blog I doubt that kind of legislation would ever get passed in this current Lib-Dipper minority Government.
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Update to the Gas Plant Scandal
Vic Fedeli is doing a stellar job: