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Media Release


Monday, July 6, 1998

OTTAWA - Democracy Watch today raised questions as to whether Canada's Big Six banks used donations to influence the amendment of the Bank Act, completed in the spring of 1997. The group released a comparison of the 1997 donations by the banks to the federal Liberal Party with previous years' donations showing that the 1997 donations were higher than any past year. In amending the Act, the Liberal government did not enact any of the bank accountability or consumer-protection amendments proposed by many citizen groups from across Canads.

Democracy Watch called on the Liberal Party to disclose 1998 donations by the banks before the decision on the proposed bank mergers is made by the government. "Sunshine is a good disinfectant against undue corporate influence, and Canadians have a right-to-know how much the banks are donating to political parties before 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 the decision about the proposed bank mergers is made."

In 1997, the Big Six banks (CIBC, Royal Bank, Bank of Montreal, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto-Dominion Bank, and National Bank) donated a total of $581,007.52 to the federal Liberal Party. In addition, their subsidiaries donated a total of $531,542.08 for a grand total of $1,112,549.60. This is the largest amount that the Big Six banks and their subsidiaries have ever donated to a federal political party, and is over almost twice as much than in 1996 ($664,073.45), and more than double the amounts donated in 1995 ($528,103.14) and in 1994 ($429,364.33).

Political donations are usually higher during election years. However, the 1997 election-year donations by the Big Six banks and their subsidiaries were 41% higher (about 30% higher taking inflation into account) than the 1993 election-year total of $784,114.66. The election campaign was shorter in 1997 than in 1993 so, if anything, party expenses should have been lower.