Do you want to meet the Prime Minister or the Finance Minister? Why, just cough up the measly $1,500 maximum donation to the Liberal Party! The same Liberal Party that, in 2013, claimed it was “Leading the way on accountability and transparency in Parliament” after “Canadians’ faith in Parliament [had] been seriously shaken [by the Conservative government].”
The Prime Minister, shortly after taking office, issued a document to ministers which read, “There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.”
Now, the Liberals who fell from power in 2006 in the wake of the Sponsorship scandal are now embroiled in a cash-for-access scandal. The Liberals have been charging $1,500 per ticket for wealthy insiders to gain access to fundraisers with high-ranking ministers, including Finance Minister Bill Morneau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, for his part, also attended some fundraisers. One with several Chinese billionaires with connections to the Chinese Communist Party government. Among those were Shenglin Xian, the founder of Wealth One Bank of Canada. Xian had been seeking Ottawa’s approval to operate his new bank.
Wealthy Chinese billionaires, some who had interests before the Government of Canada or have connections to the Chinese government, paying for the ear of the Prime Minister does not smell of “Leading the way on accountability and transparency in Parliament.” It certainly has the “appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.” One ought to question whether he represents the People or the People’s Republic of China.
During Question Period, the Prime Minister was grilled well done—possibly burnt—by the Opposition leaders. “It’s great to see the prime minister, really, and I feel kind of lucky because I didn’t have to pay $1,500 to get in here,” said NDP leader Tom Mulcair.
Provincially, the BC Liberals also engaged in questionable cash-for-access practices. It was revealed earlier in the year that Christy Clark is paid $30,000 to $50,000 for the “work” she does for the party—namely, headlining BC Liberal fundraisers. In other words, wealthy donors are lining the Premier’s pockets with cash, using the BC Liberal Party as a middle man.
The BC NDP has said that they do not pay any money to their leader, John Horgan. However, they are not squeaky clean either. A few weeks ago, Horgan headlined a $2,500-per-plate fundraising dinner. Donors could also have brought a friend for $4,000 or brought up to four for $10,000, plus they would’ve gotten a three hour VIP dinner and cocktail party with Horgan himself.
On the other hand, the BC Green Party (otherwise known as the BC Vote-splitting party) banned all corporate and union donations in September, and vowed to do the same if they form government in 2017.
Campaign and party financing are important aspects of our democracy, but it can also result in bribery and corruption. Voters ought to be aware how their politicians raise money and determine whether the practice is ethical or not.
Image courtesy of The Canadian Press