Does anyone trust the Ontario Liberals to change the same campaign finance rules they exploited?

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Let's get this straight.

The Ontario Liberals caused a problem, and now they argue only they can be trusted to fix it?

After several stories emerged about the Ontario Liberals exploiting loopholes and blurring the lines between party and public business, Premier Kathleen Wynne promised changes to Ontario's "Wild West" campaign finance rules.

Except there's one big catch: the Ontario Liberals have decided they will decide the new rules on their own.

With "an unusual show of unity," the opposition parties objected Tuesday. They argue any changes to campaign finance rules should be decided by an independent, non-partisan panel with equal representation by political parties, as well as members of the public, labour, business and academia.

Wynne opposes that.

After playing fast and loose with the rules on so many occasions, all of a sudden Wynne now claims the problem is too urgent to slow down and consult with others.

She even went so far as to accuse the opposition parties of working to prevent the Liberals from making changes to the same rules the Liberals have been exploiting for years:

"I am not willing to delay the process, I'm not willing to slow it down ... I'm not willing to buy into the stalling tactics of the opposition parties."

What an interesting turn of events!

So, why is Wynne suddenly in a rush to push through changes? 

Could it maybe, just maybe have something to do with any of these following reasons:

Instead of focusing on their jobs, Wynne's cabinet ministers – including important departments like Health, Transport, Energy and Finance – are instructed to meet annual fundraising quotas for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Worried he wasn't going to meet his quota last month, Ontario's Economic Development Minister Brad Duguid reportedly relied on his staff to shake down wealthy donors for cash rather than, you know, work on issues related to the public interest

During a recent by-election, the Ontario Liberals exploited a loophole in campaign spending limits to grab a staggering $1.6 million in donations, largely from corporations.

• Last month, it was revealed Finance Minister Charles Sousa and Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli hosted a secret $7,500-a-plate dinner for executives from the Royal Bank of Canada, TD Bank, CIBC, Goldman Sachs, Barclay's and Raymond James – firms that all had a stake in the privatization of Hydro One, and something the energy and finance ministers sort of had an interest in too.

You might call that a conflict of interest, but Sousa calls it "part of the democratic process."

Over the last 10 yeears, the Ontario Liberals has raised over $400,000 from companies that received subsidies from the Ontario Liberal government.

• Between 2002 and 2014, over half of all money raised by the Ontario Liberals (50.6%) has come directly from corporations.


To sum up: loopholes have been exploited, lines have been blurred and several cabinet ministers could be perceived to be in conflicts of interest.

Why, oh ever why, would Wynne be opposed to having a discussion about new rules?

Photo: Canada2020. Used under Creative Commons license.

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