Ontario Liberals Propose Banning Top Political Staff From Fundraisers

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TORONTO — Ontario's Liberal government is adding some top political staffers to the list of people it wants banned from fundraisers.

The Liberals have proposed banning members of provincial parliament, party leaders, nomination contestants and candidates from attending such events, as part of an election finance reform bill.

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Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne speaks in Toronto on Oct. 21, 2016. (Photo: Chris Young/CP)

The legislation was introduced amid criticism over fundraising events that saw cabinet ministers attend private, high-priced functions with stakeholders.

The opposition parties said if the fundraiser ban wasn't extended to chiefs of staff, it would allow cash for access through the back door that was banned through the front door.

Just two weeks ago the government indicated that the ethics of chiefs of staff would be covered under a code of conduct, and not a legislated fundraising ban, but reversed course Wednesday.

The Liberals released a finalized package of amendments to the bill, as it heads into its final stages before being passed, including extending the ban on attending fundraisers to staff who work for the premier or other party leaders, and chiefs of staff.

Bill would ban corporate, union donations

Politicians could still attend events where the ticket price only recovers the cost of hosting it, and solicit funds by mail, phone or email.

The bill would also ban corporate and union donations and give the political parties a per-vote subsidy to offset the loss of those funds. Individuals would be allowed to donate a maximum of $3,600 in an election year.

Restrictions are also set to be placed on the amounts that third parties can spend on political advertising during elections and the six-month period before scheduled general election periods, as well as limits to the political advertising spending of registered political parties in the six months before an election.

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