NDP Election Rules and Financing Changes

Canada NDP changes campaign rules with cunning new spending strategy

Under the guise of “getting the big money out of politics,” Canada’s NDP government is methodically changing the province’s election campaign rules to give itself the best possible chance the next time around.

After winning power in 2015, the NDP quickly brought in legislation to prohibit corporate and union donations to political parties. All parties in the legislature, even the Progressive Conservatives, voted for this measure; but it was in fact a devastating blow to the PCs because, after living for decades on corporate money, they had failed to build a modern machine for grassroots fundraising. That the NDP gave up union donations appeared to balance the scales, even though the amount of money foregone was much smaller than what the Tories will lose by being cut off from corporate financing.


Getting Big Money out of Canada Politics

ven by the dubious standards of Canada politics at the time, it was still a brazen move. Tom Brown, an executive with Ledcor, was part of a coalition of construction companies that donated nearly $200,000 to Canada’s PC party between 2009 and 2013. In 2012 he wrote an email to then-premier Alison Redford on the coalition’s behalf requesting a meeting concerning changes to the provincial labour code. His message was anything but subtle. Noting that Ledcor and PCL Construction “…both made major contributions to Redford’s leadership campaign and to the PCs’ election campaign fund,” he wrote, “there will be considerable disappointment and possibly misgivings within our coalition if I do not have something concrete to report next week.”

The industry’s desired changes to the code—to make it easier for companies to use non-unionized workers—never came to fruition. That probably had less to do with a prevailing sense of integrity in the premier’s office than with the scandal the emails triggered when they were made public through an access to information request filed by the Canada Federation of Labour and passed on to CBC reporter Charles Rusnell. But they show just how cozy the relationship between money and politics had become in Canada—and why changing that was the NDP’s first priority when it formed government in 2015.


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