Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Liberals Should Go Further and Ban Cash-for-Access Fundraisers

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Editorial Exchange: Liberals Should Go Further and Ban Cash-for-Access Fundraisers

Article excerpt

Editorial Exchange: Liberals should go further and ban cash-for-access fundraisers

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An editorial from the Toronto Star, published Jan. 29:

Finally, the Trudeau government is starting to pull itself out of a mess of its own making with a plan to make cash-for-access fundraisers more transparent.

The big question is why it didn't do so as long ago as October, when stories about behind-the-scenes $1,500-a-ticket Liberal party fundraising events at mansions with the wealthy first started appearing.

Or why the prime minister kept defending the questionable fundraisers after Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson began asking questions and referred to them as "not very savoury." Or why he continued to deny there was any problem even after Lobbying Commissioner Karen Shepherd announced in November that she was launching an investigation.

Or, most importantly, why the Trudeau government doesn't simply ban cash-for-access fundraisers -- in which donors put down money to spend time with key decision-makers.

Instead, under legislation to be drafted by newly-appointed democratic institutions minister Karina Gould, the government will simply make the fundraisers more transparent. A government official told the Star the fundraising events will have to be publicly advertised in advance, held in "public spaces" (as opposed to private homes), and reports will have to be issued after each fundraiser "in a timely manner" including details of the event.

Rightly, the opposition was not silenced by this tepid proposal. NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said the government's proposed legislation won't actually ban "selling access to ministers," and interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose said the new law wouldn't make the fundraisers ethical.

Indeed.

Perhaps the most egregious example of the brazen fundraisers was one in which the prime minister himself was the star attraction. It was reportedly attended by wealthy Chinese-Canadian and Chinese business people, including a Chinese billionaire who is also an adviser to the Chinese government. …

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