"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Differently competent

Interested in political financing for the current or most recently-completed year?

You can easily find political finance disclosures for 2012 in Saskatchewan and Prince Edward Island.

In Ontario and Quebec, disclosures are made in near "real time", with a lag of up to 30 days. In Quebec, all political donations are channelled through the electoral office itself. In Ontario, not only is there "real time" disclosure, electoral district association and party leadership finances are disclosed, including for 2012.

Electoral district association funds are also disclosed in Nova Scotia and Manitoba. They are in Alberta, as well, and, along with party and candidate contributions, the reporting period in Alberta is quarterly.

British Columbia's political finance database includes party leadership, electoral district associations, and candidate nomination filings.

Even Yukon, the only territory with formal political parties, has its 2012 party finance disclosures published on-line.

At the federal level, Elections Canada provides a wide variety of political finance disclosures for federal parties, candidates, nomination contestants, leadership contestants, electoral district associations, and third parties. Federal party disclosures are made quarterly.

(In the Northwest Territories, there are no political parties, and there were no electoral events to trigger disclosure rules in 2012. In Nunavut, candidates are still within the 60-day grace period to disclosure their financing from the recent territorial election campaign, and there were no electoral events in 2012. New Brunswick is finally in the process of moving its political finance disclosures online.)

Which brings us to Newfoundland and Labrador, where, with fewer than 30 days to go before 2013 turns into 2014, Elections Newfoundland and Labrador still have not published the 2012 contribution disclosures for the registered parties.

And it's probably too much to expect that the campaign finance disclosures for the Cartwright–L'Anse au Clair by-election, held six months ago, will be put out this calendar year.

Unlike at the federal level, and as in a number of other provinces, those political finance reports do not include funds raised by constituency associations, nomination contestants, or party leadership candidates. These funds fall into a legislative black hole that has not yet been filled, notwithstanding the PC Party's 2003 solemn platform promise:
The Elections Act limits election campaign contributions and spending, and attempts to promote electoral fairness by allowing candidates to recover part of their campaign expenses from public funds. The intent of the Act is undermined by loopholes that allow political parties to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money before an election is called, as well as unlimited contributions and spending on candidate nominations and leadership contests.  
A Progressive Conservative government will take the following actions to close those loopholes:
  • Limit political contributions by a person, corporation, or union in any year, including an election year, to a total of $10,000 to a registered political party and a total of $5,000 to one or more district associations of a registered party or one or more candidates in a provincial election in relation to their candidacy, by way of cash, cheque, money order, credit card or goods and services, but excluding the purchase of tickets or passes and donations in kind to fundraising events sponsored by a registered political party or district association of a registered party.  
  • Legislate contribution and spending limits for Party leadership contests and nominees in Party candidacy races.
  • Require full disclosure of contributions and expenditures in party nomination contests and elections.
  • Require disclosure of contributions to leadership campaigns as they occur and disclosure of independently audited expenses within three months after the election of a new leader.
  • Enact provisions requiring leadership candidates to return unused contributions to their leadership campaigns.
Furthermore, in the 2011 election-year finance disclosures — also not published until very late in 2012 — Elections Newfoundland and Labrador fails to distinguish campaign-period contributions to political parties from those made outside the campaign period. This disctinction, which was made in respect of the party finance reports for general election years 1996, 1999, 2003, and 2007, is mandated by s. 299 of the Elections Act. For no obviously good reason, the current crew at the Elections office have absolved themselves of that duty.

How hard can it be for such reports to be compiled, and published, in a timely manner, in the second-least populous province? (Compare the ongoing, ludicrous saga, of Elections NL taking nine months to do what Elections Canada, and every other, larger, province, does within days or weeks: publish poll-by-poll election returns.)

What on earth is going on at Elections Newfoundland and Labrador?



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