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Monday, September 17, 2012 

Sask Premier Brad Wall Has No Choice But To End Corporate / Union Political Donations

One of the most interesting things to come from the current Saskatchewan New Democratic Leadership race has been the call for an end to donations from corporate and union entities. 

This will be a hard pill for Premier Wall to swallow. His 'Saskatchewan Party' receives over $3,000,000 annually in donations from the provinces oil, potash and other business corporations. 

The Saskatoon Star Phoenix Editorial Board agrees with the call:

"It's time for Saskatchewan to change the rules governing donations to political parties by labour unions and the corporate sector, and bring them in line with Manitoba, Quebec and Nova Scotia, where an outright ban on the practice hasn't proven detrimental to the governing process.

Even at the federal level, where corporate and union donations have been banned since 2003, both the Conservatives and New Democrats have managed to succeed despite the rules, while the Liberals are striving to overcome the impact on their finances of the reform enacted by former prime minister Jean Chretien.

Provincial NDP leadership contender Erin Weir wasn't treading new ground last week when he proposed that Saskatchewan move to abolish both corporate and union donations.

"I believe that corporate donations likely affect government policy-making and certainly raise questions of whether politicians are responding to citizens or their corporate funders," said Mr. Weir. Of course, his argument applies just as well to union donations made over the decades to former NDP governments.

That's a rationale that Premier Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party government has used in its current consideration of labour legislation reforms, with attention focused specifically on whether workers should be able to opt out of paying membership dues to labour organizations that donate some of the money to political parties.

While it's certainly the case that the provincial NDP in 2011 collected $326,000 from unions, it's also the case that Premier Brad Wall's Saskatchewan Party received $3.1 million last year from corporate donations.

For a government that cites concerns about the undue influence unions have wielded over the decades on Saskatchewan labour legislation and has expressed annoyance with union paid ads that criticize its policies, it's a cynical stance to respond to Mr. Weir's proposal by saying, "We have no plans to change the current policy, which has been in place for many years under both NDP and Sask. Party governments."

Mr. Wall could well end up regretting poking a stick into this hornet's nest. Not only will it bring into sharper focus the policy choices being made by a governing party that's backed heavily by the corporate sector, but it also raises questions about the role of third-party advertising during writ periods. After all, if unions shouldn't be spending their members' money on political ads, what about corporations spending money from shareholders - among them mutual funds investing union members' pension money, for instance - for the same purpose?"

Saskatoon Star Phoenix Editorial
The ball is in Brad Wall's court ..... it is NOT going to go away!

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