Elections are no time to gag the public: OPSEU

TORONTO, Aug. 15, 2016 /CNW/ - Ending cash-for-access fundraising and removing draconian third-party advertising rules that would limit the ability of the public to advocate for issues in the public interest, are two of the six recommendations submitted today by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) to the review of Ontario's outdated election finance laws.

"The transfer of favours for donations exposed in the media coverage of cash-for-access dinners threatens the public's faith in their government," said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. "When corporate elites are caught buying access to decision-makers with $10,000-a-plate dinners, what citizen can truly believe that her government cares about her opinion?"

OPSEU's submission contains six recommendations to improve the proposed legislation to ensure that every voter has equal access and influence:

  • Create a level playing field by setting a donation limit that the majority of Ontarians can actually afford
  • Fund parties through a public financing system that lets people support the party they choose, not the party they chose
  • End cash-for-access fundraisers by preventing those who donate to political parties from benefiting from their donations through government contracts, grants or tax breaks
  • Don't put a chill on speech – allow third parties to talk about public issues during the pre-writ period
  • Distinguish between freedom of the press and the interests of the corporations that own the increasingly-concentrated media outlets
  • Allow people to make decisions based on the issues, not the horse race, by banning the publication of opinion polls during the last two weeks of the campaign

"I'm sure I'm not the only one tired of seeing the same elites showing up at every Bay Street fundraising party, only to watch the government make decisions that benefit these same folks," added Thomas. "Just imagine how different the priorities of the government would be if they had to keep the public happy, instead of just their wealthy donors.

"We'll be watching to see what changes are made when this bill returns to the legislature in the fall. No matter how long it takes, we'll continue to push for equal access and influence for every person in this province."

SOURCE Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU)

For further information: Craig Ashbourne, Communications Officer, 226-821-1725

RELATED LINKS
http://www.opseu.org

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