Liberals dig in their heels, vote down plan for non-partisan campaign finance reform

Today, Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal Government voted down a  motion, put forward by NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, that would have established a fast-moving, non-partisan panel of experts, academics, business leaders, labour and Ontarians to help write the rules that govern political party financing in this province.

“Ontarians deserve to know that their voice matters. That’s why New Democrats believe we need to get the influence of big money out of government and politics in Ontario,” said Horwath.  “We believe it shouldn’t be up to one political party, or any single political leader, to make the rules for 14 million Ontarians. By voting down our motion today, Kathleen Wynne and her Liberal Government dug in their heels and showed that they’re determined to take a partisan approach to writing election rules.” 

Horwath’s motion called on the government to establish an Ontario Advisory Panel on Political Finance Reform and Electoral Participation. The panel would include an equal number of members from the Liberals, Conservatives, NDP and Green Party, as well as members from broader civil society. The panel would have a non-partisan chair, and the process would be guided by Ontario’s Chief Electoral Officer.

“The laws that govern our democracy should be built to last, not based on the whims of any one political party. The Premier is setting a dangerous precedent that any majority government can change Ontario’s election laws whenever and however they feel like it. That’s the wrong decision, one that will have far-reaching and long-lasting consequences,” continued Horwath.

Earlier today, Horwath was joined by the Leader of the Official Opposition, Patrick Brown, as well as the Leader of the Green Party of Ontario, Mike Schreiner, in calling on the Premier to do the right thing by establishing a non-partisan panel so Ontarians can have faith that election campaign financing reforms are fair. The public needs to be confident that these necessary changes aren’t about helping one political party hold on to power.

Last week, the independent, non-partisan citizen advocacy organization Democracy Watch agreed with the position of Ontario’s New Democrats and called on the Ontario Liberals to “undertake a meaningful public consultation before changing the political finance system”. They also noted that, “[k]ey democracy laws across Canada are usually developed by all parties after meaningful public consultation and the Ontario Liberals should follow this tradition before changing the political finance system.”