Wynne says Ontario will tighten rules on political donations

Premier refused to confirm reports cabinet ministers have been given fundraising targets of $150,000 to $500,000 annually

(Photograph by Cole Garside)

(Photograph by Cole Garside)

TORONTO — Ontario plans to tighten its rules on political donations starting this fall.

Premier Kathleen Wynne says the Liberals will propose new rules that “transition” Ontario away from corporate and union donations to political parties, which are already banned at the federal level.

Wynne says the Liberal government will also propose lowering annual donation limits, which are also much more generous than federal limits.

She also promises new rules on so-called third party advertising, which allowed unions to join forces in the past few Ontario elections to outspend all the political parties with attack ads that targeted the Progressive Conservatives.

Wynne says some of the changes will be in place before the next election in 2018, but “probably not” all of them because there will have to be a transition period to allow political parties time to adjust to the new rules..

She refused to confirm reports that her cabinet ministers have been given fundraising targets of $150,000 to $500,000 annually, but defended the need to raise money for political parties.

“What’s very important is that we understand what the rules are and that the people who need information _ and in this case I would say the public _ about who is donating and what the interaction is, that that is available,” said Wynne.

In Ontario, people, corporations or unions can donate $9,775 to a party each year, another $9,975 to the party for each campaign period, plus $6,650 annually to constituency associations of any one party. They can also donate $6,650 to candidates of any one party in a campaign, but no more than $1,330 to a single candidate.

Federally, the maximum political contribution is $1,525 to each party, plus another $1,525 in total to all the registered associations and candidates of each party.

However, Ontario parties set their own limits for leadership campaigns, and one young man made a single $100,000 donation to PC leadership candidate Christine Elliott in the 2015 campaign she lost to Patrick Brown.