DEMOCRACY WATCH CALLS ON PARTIES TO DISCLOSE
BY FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS IN 1998
Thursday, January 21, 1999
OTTAWA - Democracy Watch today called on federal political parties to disclose donations made to them by financial institutions, their subsidiaries and financial industry associations in 1998. Democracy Watch also called on parties to order their MPs and riding associations to disclose any donations received from the financial industry.
Donations to parties do not have to be made public until six months after the end of any year (June 30th), and Members of Parliament and riding associations do not have to disclose donations received outside of election campaign periods. However, given that the federal government has made a very significant policy decision about the industry (on the proposed bank mergers) and will be making many more decisions in the next five months, Canadians should not have to wait to find out after the fact whether financial institutions used donations as a means of influence over parties.
"Sunshine is a good disinfectant against undue corporate influence, and Canadians have a right to know how much financial institutions are donating to political parties before any more major policy decisions are made" said Aaron Freeman, Board Member of Democracy Watch, "We call on the parties, and the Liberal Party in particular, to report 1998 donations before any more policy decisions are made."
Democracy Watch sent a letter to the federal Liberal, Reform, Bloc Québecois, New Democrat and Progressive Conservative party presidents and leaders requesting the information on party donations, and requesting that the party order MPs and riding associations to disclose their donation information.
In 1997, the Big Six banks and their subsidiaries donated just over $1.1 million to the federal Liberal party, the largest amount they had ever donated to a federal political party. That year, changes made to the federal Bank Act did not include any accountability or consumer protection measures.