Martin, PoliticsWatch News (Posted December 5, 2001)
OTTAWA -- Jean-Pierre
Kingsley, Canada's chief electoral officer, caused a minor
tempest when he called on Liberal leadership hopefuls to publicly disclose
the names of their financial backers.
Liberal House Leader Don
Boudria immediately dismissed
Kingsley, saying the issue is entirely outside of the chief
electoral officer's mandate.
"That has nothing to do
with elections,'' Boudria said. "It's an issue for political
parties to determine.''
Fisheries Minister Herb
Dhaliwal was the only cabinet minister to give immediate support
to Kingsley's suggestion.
"I think it's something
we should seriously look at because Canadians want greater
transparency," Dhaliwal told reporters following Mr.
Kingsley's annual report to Parliament. "They want to know
where the funds come from."
Most ministerial offices
polled by PoliticsWatch.com this week, however, may not share that
Only Allan Rock, the health minister and would-be
liberal leadership contender, voiced approval for the idea.
disclosure, and there are rules in place for when a leadership
contest is in place," said a Rock spokesperson.
for John Manley said her boss could not respond personally since
he was in Europe, "but knowing him he is always for
Ministerial offices of other front runners, however,
were less committal.
Heritage Minister Sheila Copps
may favour the status quo. According to her spokesperson Kerry Edmonds, "Ms. Copps believes it is an internal party matter and she agrees with comments already made by Don
1990, Ms. Copps was the first Liberal leadership candidate in that
campaign to reveal the names and amounts of $1-million in donations.
offices of Finance Minister Paul Martin and Industry
Minister Brian Tobin refused comment.
And with good reason.
In the undeclared race for the
Liberal leadership, the biggest issue is proving not to be the
candidates' different vision of the future, but the size of their
all-important war chests.
Brian Tobin is reported have
amassed as much as $10-million in financial
"commitments", while Paul Martin's haul is estimated to
be at least half that figure.
Unlike during provincial and
federal elections where candidates are forced to disclose donor
lists and the value of contributions to the chief electoral
officer, guidelines governing political party leadership campaigns are left to
the discretion of individual parties.
that there is no official
leadership race as of yet, candidates govern themselves, free of any public
scrutiny into who's giving what and whether there are any strings
This lack of disclosure,
critics argue, threatens to put potential contenders in a conflict
of interest, secretly accepting donations from individuals, groups
or companies with whom their departments do business.
"Canadians have a
right to know who is behind leadership bids ... Not knowing breeds
cynicism," Mr. Kingsley said.
"This is essential for an
informed vote and for maintaining the trust of Canadians in the
integrity of the process as well for their continued participation
in the process," he said. "Let the sun shine on
contributions and on expenditures by leadership candidates."
Bankrolling a national
leadership campaign is no small matter. In this day and age, a
prospective candidate that doesn't have at least $4-million in the
bag by the time Prime Minister Chretien retires is
guaranteed to never get out of the starting blocks.
And mastering the rubber
chicken circuit is key, as it demonstrates that a candidate has
the political machinery necessary to score the ultimate deciders:
In the absence of rules,
leadership hopefuls can resort to any means to secure the ultimate
prize. There are no laws to break, and convention, practice, and
precedent vary according to political party.
It is yet to be determined if reforming disclosure rules for leadership
campaign financing is on the Liberal government's priorities.
Several ministerial offices preferred to avoid the subject altogether.
spokesman for Transport Minister David Collenette, said it
"was not an issue he wants to get into."
Ditto for Human Development
Resources Minister Jane Stewart.
"It's not something she
would be looking at discussing," press secretary Beth
Clarkson said. "The way Ms. Stewart runs her department gives
an indication as to her views on transparency."
Cauchon, minister of
Canada Customs and Revenue who some are already touting as a
future leadership prospect down the road, was equally circumspect.
"You can try at other doors," said spokeswoman Suzanne
Thebarge. "The Minister does not comment on those things. He
is not affected by that."
Two other ministerial offices
-- Art Eggleton and Anne McLellan -- did not respond to inquiries.