Ontario PC leader vows to close fundraising loopholes if elected premier

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Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown says he will close two glaring political fundraising loopholes left open by the Liberal government if he’s elected premier.

The Tory leader, who has spent the last five days on a campaign-style tour of the province, took a swipe at Premier Kathleen Wynne’s party again Friday.

Standing in front of Queen’s Park, next to five skids mocked up to look like they were full of $100 bills, Brown vowed to stamp out a pair of problem areas in the government’s political fundraising rules.

“As premier, I will ban political parties from setting up fundraising targets for ministers (and) ban ministers from fundraising off those they do business with,” he said.

Those two loopholes remain even after the Liberal government moved to address a cash-for-access scandal that plagued them in 2016.

At the time, Liberal cabinet ministers were assigned fundraising targets and high-priced events promised access to those same officials. Ministers were also permitted to fundraise from many of the same businesses and unions they worked with under their portfolios.

The Liberals have been adamant the fundraiser attendees in no way impacted government decisions.

“Thanks to media reports we know that at least 10 Wynne ministers had personal fundraising targets,” Brown said. “For example, the minister of finance and the health minister had fundraising targets of $500,000 a year. There is nothing preventing them from doing the same today.”

At the time of the fundraising reforms, both the Tories and NDP warned that both loopholes should be closed to prevent problems.

“If Kathleen Wynne had her way, they’d keep all these cash-for-access loopholes that still exist today,” Brown said.

Liberal Attorney General Yasir Naqvi called Brown’s statements “laughable” and said the government has already addressed the cash-for-access issue. Its reforms, passed in December, bar MPPs from attending fundraisers, ban corporate and union donations, and strengthen third-party advertising rules.

“Our government has already done just that, and taken a national leadership role on this issue,” Naqvi said. “Ontario was the first government within Canada to introduce laws that fundamentally change how political fundraising is done.”


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