Sask. NDP wants to ban corporations, unions, from making political donations

The NDP is promising to ban corporations and unions from donating to Saskatchewan political parties, restricting the ability to donate to individual Saskatchewan residents.

They also want to put a cap on how much an individual can donate per year.

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Ryan Meili, the NDP’s leader, said Sept. 23 there’s a need to get big money out of Saskatchewan politics. He said the Saskatchewan Party had received $19 million from corporate donors since 2007, with much of that money coming from outside of the province.

“With this big money comes influence comes a government that manages to make sure that money finds its way back to those donors and contracts in laws that favor them, and don't work for the people of Saskatchewan.”

B.C., Alberta, Manitoba, Quebec, Nova Scotia and the federal political scene do not allow corporate or union donations.

Meili said the government under Premier Scott Moe had rejected a private members bill in 2018 that would have changed that.

 “We still have the worst election finance laws in the entire country. No limits on where that money can come from in Canada, and no limits on the corporations or unions that can donate.”

Meili said since the Sask. Party won’t place limits, a government led by him would.

“As premier, I'll shut the door on the old boys’ club, and stop this practice of unlimited corporate donations, limit those donations to individuals live in Saskatchewan. We need to level the playing field and make sure it's the people of this province that are making decisions, not companies from out of province.”

Meili spoke of the Buffalo Project, which is calling for equalization reform, a joint Alberta-Saskatchewan pension plan, creating a provincial version of Revenue Canada that would collect taxes instead of that provincial body, looking at ways Alberta and Saskatchewan as provinces could negotiate international trade and immigration deals, and calling on the federal government to create unobstructed port access for the two landlocked provinces.

The NDP leader characterized the group as made up of of mostly wealthy Albertans that are fanning the flames of separatist sentiment in Alberta and Saskatchewan with divisive third-party advertising and social media campaigns. He said that Buffalo Project-linked donations to the Saskatchewan Party rose from $5,930 in 2018 to $56,960 in 2019.

The Buffalo Project called that a dishonest political attack, saying that they have not given any donations to the Sask. Party and calling for the NDP to apologize. While the group hasn’t made any political donations, people who have signed a public letter supporting the Buffalo Project – or corporations connected to them – have made donations.

“Now Scott Moe has not only failed to distance himself from the Buffalo Project, he's not only failed to push away that talk of Western separatism, he's also given space to those ideas and now we see why,” Meili said.

“With those dollars coming in, we see the influence that is on Scott Moe, we see why he won't do what any decent premier of Saskatchewan would do, which is stand up for Saskatchewan and stand up for a strong Canada. He's failing to do that and you can see why because these dollars are coming in.”

Don Morgan, the province’s minister of justice, responded to the NDP policy proposal though an email sent on Sept. 24.

“We take accountability and transparency very seriously. It is in the public interest to know who is donating to whom. We believe there is better accountability and transparency when donations are in the name of the corporation rather than directors of corporations or spread between multiple people.

“If an individual business is donating to a party, the public will know. Every donation over $250 is reported to Elections Saskatchewan and is available to the public.

“The NDP continue to flip-flop on this issue, changing their opinions to suit whatever their current need happens to be. In 2019 alone they received over $120,000 from two unions,” Morgan concluded.

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