Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday March 30, 2016
Ontario, the Wild West of Political fundraising
Kathleen Wynne’s Liberals will rake in roughly $3 million in a single fundraiser Wednesday night.
At their sumptuous Heritage Dinner, “Victory Tables” are priced at $18,000 for corporate high-flyers, and the biggest donors are feted at a private cocktail reception by a grateful premier. But that’s only half the story of how the governing party raises big money.
In Ontario, the Wild West of fundraising, cabinet ministers are assigned secret targets as high as $500,000 a year, the Star has learned.
The unsavoury spectacle of Ontario’s politicians supplicating big business and big labour for events such as the Heritage Dinner is only a small piece of the fundraising puzzle glimpsed by the public. Beyond the showy hobnobbing, shadowy appeals by cabinet ministers for corporate money are the untold story at Queen’s Park.
Corporate and union contributions that Wynne persists in publicly defending create a demonstrable conflict of interest for cabinet ministers, which is why they were banned for federal parties in 2006, and are no longer legal in four other provinces.
And yet, according to multiple sources, top cabinet ministers at Queen’s Park are given financial targets that are typically in the range of $250,000 annually — double that amount in some cases. These quasi-quotas are never written down, conveyed instead by the Ontario Liberal Fund through confidential meetings and phone calls.
They are the price of admission to power, revealed here for the first time, and they are astonishingly high.
The two most marketable ministers are Charles Sousa, the minister of finance, and Eric Hoskins, who helms the province’s $52-billion health care budget. Both are expected to bring in as much as $500,000 a year, well-placed sources have confirmed.
Sousa’s control of the provincial treasury, tax policy and auto insurance makes him a prime target for lobbyists in the banking and insurance industries. But Hoskins is also in high demand because of his regulatory authority over drug companies and nursing home conglomerates.
That’s why Hoskins was the big draw for the Ontario Long Term Care Association at an event organized with the Liberal Fund last year, which offered “an unprecedented opportunity only for OLTCA members” where they could “discuss the sector with the minister, up close and personal.” (Source: Toronto Star)