[Democracy Watch Logo]

Media Release


Monday, March 25, 2002

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on new Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper and new Ontario Premier Ernie Eves to disclose the identities of donors, and amount of donations, to their leadership campaigns. The Canadian Alliance did not set limits on campaign spending and donations, nor did it require disclosure of donations and donors. These problems are common in many federal party leadership races because of the lack of any laws covering the races. Ontario law does not require disclosure of donors to leadership races until six months after the vote.

"All Canadians have a right to know who has bankrolled the new Leader of the Opposition, and all Ontarians have a right to know who bankrolled their new Premier," said Aaron Freeman, Board member of Democracy Watch. "The burden of proof is on Harper and Eves to show that they have not been bought off by wealthy private interests."

The Canadian Alliance's official website states that it is made up of "political visionaries who want to place Canada on a principled governing foundation for the new century" and whose goal is to "defeat the unprincipled, old-style Liberals and form a responsible, accountable government. . ." The party's policy states "We recognize the need for more democratic and accountable political institutions. . ." Democracy Watch questions why the Alliance believes that having a leader whose campaign was funded by secret donations is democratic, principled, accountable and responsible?

Under party rules, Ernie Eves was allowed to spend up to $1.5 million in his leadership campaign, fully one-third the spending limit set by provincial regulations for the Tories in the 1999 provincial election. Democracy Watch sees no reason why Eves cannot immediately disclose his donations and donors, especially given that he now has decision-making power on many key issues.

"Party leadership races are an ideal time for donors to influence the direction of parties, and ultimately the government. When candidates are allowed to fundraise in secret, it is reasonable to ask what they have to hide," said Freeman.

"To prevent future secret bankrolling of future political leaders, all Canadian governments should follow B.C. and Ontario's lead, and the recent recommendation by the head of Elections Canada, and change the law to require disclosure of donations and donors in leadership races before the leadership vote occurs," said Freeman.

- 30 -

Duff Conacher, Coordinator
Tel: (613) 241-5179
or view Democracy Watch's Money in Politics Campaign page