Ontario To Ban Corporate, Union Donations To Parties: Wynne

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TORONTO — Premier Kathleen Wynne says Ontario will ban corporate and union donations to political parties by Jan. 1, 2017.

However, Wynne says she's not sure yet if there should be a per-voter subsidy from taxpayers to help the parties offset the drop in donations, or how long such a subsidy should last.

The premier says legislation will be introduced in May that also imposes maximum spending limits on third-party advertising and reduce the maximum allowable donations from individuals in the range of the federal limit of $1,500 a year.

kathleen wynne
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne's speaks during a press conference regarding the political fundraising question at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, April 11, 2016. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)

Wynne announced the planned rule changes after meeting Progressive Conservative Leader Patrick Brown and NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, both of whom called the gathering disappointing.

Brown calls the meeting a sham, and says it went off the rails as soon as he told Wynne the Tories would keep pressing for a public inquiry into fundraising quotas of up to $500,000 for Liberal cabinet ministers.

Wynne also rejected an NDP call to have the chief electoral officer lead the review of political financing rules, but said he would be the first called to testify about the government's proposed legislation.

She says the opposition leaders wouldn't give her any feedback on the proposed changes and instead wanted to talk about process, which she said would only delay implementation of the needed reforms.

patrick brown andrea horwath
Ontario NDP provincial leader Andrea Horwath, left, and Conservative leader Patrick Brown speak after meeting with Premier Kathleen Wynne's regarding the political fundraising debate at Queen's Park in Toronto on Monday, April 11, 2016. (Photo: Nathan Denette/CP)

Brown launched another attack on the Liberals' fundraising activities during Monday's question period, saying Wynne recently visited the drug manufacturer Apotex after the company donated nearly $200,000 to the Liberal Party.

"Can the premier assure us that these donations are not affecting the government's decisions," Brown asked. "If this is all smoke and it's not fire, then the premier would embrace a public inquiry."

Wynne flatly rejected Brown's allegations.

'Political donations do not buy policy decisions'

"Political donations do not buy policy decisions in my government," she told the legislature. "Any innuendo or suggestion to the opposite is false."

The Liberals tried again to turn the tables on Brown, claiming he "took advantage" of the rules to raise over $1.6 million for his PC leadership campaign in 2014, and has fundraisers scheduled that charge up to $10,000 a ticket.

Veteran Liberal cabinet minister Jim Bradley reached for a Bible quote to attack Brown in question period.

"Let he who is without sin cast the first stone," said Bradley. "You are living, sir ... in a glass house. I advise you not to throw stones."

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