This story in the Toronto Star is by Robin V. Sears, Contributing Columnist. Here is an excerpt:
When Canada created election finance laws — among the world’s best — there were two principles: levelling the playing field and ensuring that every dollar given or spent was made public. Delivering on the first principle meant putting a hard cap on what candidates could spend. Somewhat naively, caps on donations were thought to be less useful, since if you couldn’t spend it, why chase donors for more? Executing the second principle meant public reporting on who gave what.
Since that first campaign finance election in 1974, the norms of both politics and communications have been overturned. Now we need to again shore up one of fundamental pillars of any fair electoral process — controlling the cash. Over the years many often unhelpful partisan changes have been injected into campaign finance, by various governments. Companies and unions were forbidden to give (tempting too many corporations to reimburse “personal” donations by their executives). Parties were given annual cash grants — until the Conservatives, federally and provincially, took the money away again. No prizes for guessing whom they thought this would benefit.
Many of these changes have not worked, and some have tilted the playing field once more. Outsider spending has mushroomed. It appears that foreign donors may have come back. Technology has turbocharged the parties’ ability to vacuum up cash year round. The often venomous social platforms they spend much of it on have exploded.
Read the full article here.