Election finance reform is overdue in Yukon. It is high time we joined the Canadian mainstream in banning corporate and union donations and restricting the size of individual political donations.
The Chretien Liberals banned federal-level corporate and union donations in 2003, arguing that “the changes are needed to curb Canadians’ cynicism about the political process.”
Ontario recently decided to ban corporate and union donations on Jan. 1, 2017, when Premier Kathleen Wynne explained that “the current system does not meet today’s public expectations.”
The Christy Clark government is under pressure to follow the federal and Ontario governments’ lead. A recent editorial in Victoria’s Times-Colonist calls for the B.C. government to “ban corporate and union political donations and limit individual donations to put an end to the pall of corruption hanging over B.C. politics.”
An April 13, 2016 Globe and Mail editorial condemns Saskatchewan’s electoral law, which, like Yukon’s, still allows unlimited individual, corporate and union donations: “Until reform happens, the Wall government will be tainted by its reliance on corporate donors, and by the perception that some of its policies may be developed with those donors’ interests in mind.”
And Manitoba just held its first election this week without corporate and union donations and with a cap on individual donations.
For obvious reasons businesses and unions have never been allowed to vote: electors can only be citizens. Similarly, only voters should have the right to donate to parties and campaigns.
The potential of influence purchasing by businesses and unions compromises democracy. Furthermore, the Yukon “sky is the limit” size of political donations law is undemocratic and must change.
Trust and confidence in our electoral system is diminished if average voters worry that large donations by wealthy Yukoners may potentially be buying influence with candidates and parties.
Also, political donations from outside Yukon should be disallowed. Most Yukoners would cringe if they were aware mining companies, unions, environmentalists or even churches from elsewhere in Canada could influence our elections.
A tipping point has been reached. It is no longer considered morally acceptable in Canada that politicians can be bought by wealthy citizens or organizations.
Is is now just a matter of time till corporate and union donations and unlimited donations are banned in every jurisdiction.
Yukon Green Party leader Kristina Calhoun has long called for the elimination of the above undemocratic loopholes in Yukon’s electoral law. I would like to know the opinion of the other party leaders on this very important issue.
Frank de Jong