re: Get Big Money Out of Politics!

re: Get Big Money Out of Politics!
Posted on August 4, 2016 | Matt Radford | Written on August 3, 2016
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Matt Radford, Ontario Libertarian Party

On Wednesday, July 27th, I presented the following before the Standing Committee on General Government, concerning Bill 201.....

Thank you for the opportunity to present my views on Bill 201, An Act to amend the Election Finances Act and Taxation Act, 2007.

Comprehensive fundraising reform is essential to renewing our democracy and to restoring trust in the integrity of government decision-making.

As a Libertarian, my opinion on this matter may be quite different than that of any other speaker you have heard to date.

Let me begin by explaining what I believe is the primary function of Government to better your understanding of my position on Bill 201.

Government’s only legitimate role is to protect individual rights to life, liberty and property, and not abrogate these rights. It is right to have laws against actions that intrude on the rights and freedoms of other individuals, but actions that do not intrude on the rights of others should not be restricted.

We must remember what government is: institutionalized force. The power and politics of government makes it arrogant, inefficient, corrupt and dangerous.

Because of this inherent nature of government, government programs almost always fail to do what they were supposed to. And expanding government power to do what you think it should ensures that future politicians will use it in ways you think they shouldn’t.

David Boaz best describes Libertarianism in an article written for the CATO Institute titled, “Key Concepts of Libertarianism”.

Individualism. Libertarians see the individual as the basic unit of Social Analysis. Only individuals make choices and are responsible for their actions. Libertarian thought emphasizes the dignity of each individual, which entails both rights and responsibility. The progressive extension of dignity to more people — to women, to people of different religions and different races — is one of the great libertarian triumphs of the Western world.

Individual Rights. Because individuals are Moral Agents, they have a right to be secure in their life, Liberty, and property. These rights are not granted by government or by society; they are inherent in the nature of human beings. It is intuitively right that individuals enjoy the security of such rights; the burden of explanation should lie with those who would take rights away.
 

The Rule of Law. Libertarianism is not Libertinism or Hedonism. It is not a claim that “people can do anything they want to, and nobody else can say anything.” Rather, libertarianism proposes a society of liberty under law, in which individuals are free to pursue their own lives so long as they respect the equal rights of others. The rule of law means that individuals are governed by generally applicable and spontaneously developed legal rules, not by arbitrary commands; and that those rules should protect the freedom of individuals to pursue happiness in their own ways, not aim at any particular result or outcome.

Now, when it comes to Electoral Reform and Bill 201, there is one question that needs to be asked.

Why do we need this legislation? 

Well, I believe it is in part due to the history of corruption in our political parties in obtaining funds from influential people and their businesses.

But is it reasonable for government to prevent politicians from corrupting the fundraising process?

Shouldn’t politicians just not be corrupt?

The People of Ontario want to know which politicians are apt to abusing the system we already have in place.  We want to see which politicians will attempt to buy and sell votes through $5000 per plate fundraising dinners, we want to see which individuals are attempting to buy favoritism, and which parties are accepting.  We want to see the rot at the core of the corrupt parties.   How will the people know which politicians are corrupt, if government prevents the parties from showing their true colours?

Do you not trust that the People of Ontario can make educated decisions of their own accord?  Do you not trust that voters will hold corrupt politicians accountable at the polls?  Do you imply that the people are incapable of forming an educated opinion, thus implying the need for the nanny state government to legislate in order to cover up the corrupt practices of political parties?

I also don’t believe taxpayers should be funding the campaigns of political parties through pay-per vote subsidies.

By paying themselves through a pay-per-vote subsidy, political parties are sending a message, once again, to the People of Ontario that they can’t be trusted with their own money, and that government is best spending it on their behalf.

Based on the 2014 election results, a pay-per-vote subsidy would cost the taxpayers roughly $11 million per year, or $44 million over 4 years.  That is equal to one year’s worth of IBI treatment for 511 Autistic Children.

This is a major insult to the People of Ontario
In reality, if a political party were honest, transparent and hardworking; they would actually need to spend LESS to win the trust as well as the votes of the People of Ontario.  The trust of the People shouldn’t need to be bought through advertisements smearing other parties, or through expensive $5000 per plate fundraising dinners….

The amount of money a party needs to spend should send the message to the People of Ontario as to just how self-serving and corrupt their party is.

Ontario is adopting practices that have been working in other jurisdictions to inform its approach to Open Government. Governments in Canada and about 60 other countries are implementing Open Government initiatives to improve transparency, effectiveness and accountability. 

I believe Ontario can do MORE when it comes to Election financing transparency and accountability.

Recently, the Ontario Liberals have been investigated for corrupt practices by the O.P.P.   But, having the O.P.P. investigate the government with the majority of power is like asking an employee to investigate their own boss, if you find them guilty you’re fired and if you find them not guilty you’re accused of favoritism.   Also, since the Ontario Provincial Police Association has a history of contributing to political campaigns, it is a conflict of interest to have them investigate the very parties to whom they contribute.

This is an example of why we need to end corporate and union donations to political parties.  Since 2013, the top 30 contributors to the Liberals, PC and NDP donated almost $5 million.  See table 1.1

Corporations and public sector unions can buy government favours, because government has favours to sell.
From 2001 to 2009, the Ontario Government paid out almost $25 Billion in grants and subsidies to businesses.  In these 9 years, government granted DOUBLE the amount of subsidies to businesses from 1981 to 2000 combined. (See Table 1.2) 

If we truly want to eliminate corporate favoritism, we need to put stipulations on exactly who qualifies for grants and subsidies. 
Not only do we need to end corporate and union donations to political parties, we need to end corporate welfare.

If the current political parties in power claim to support transparent and accountable government, I suggest the following:

- No pay per vote subsidies.  The People of Ontario should only do donations to parties voluntarily.

- End Corporate and Union donations to political parties.  Businesses shouldn’t be able to buy favoritism.

- End corporate welfare, government should NOT be subsidizing large corporations with taxpayer money.

- Allow candidates and political parties to fundraise how they deem ethically fit.

- Parties should regularly and publicly disclose their assets, income and expenditures to an independent agency or the office of the Ontario Ombudsman

- Any charges against a Member of Provincial Parliament, a candidacy association or political party should be turned over to the RCMP for investigation

- Institute Recall Legislation so The People of Ontario can hold those guilty of corrupt practices accountable.

In Conclusion, I understand that, under the current government Modus Operandi, the belief is that in order to solve problems, we need more government.  Instead, I implore the parties in power to have faith in the People, that we can make the choices we believe are in our own best interests, that we can freely support any party we so desire, within our means, and that we can institute the proper legislation that allows the People to hold our representatives accountable for their actions.

Matt Radford
Candidate for Oxford County Ontario
Ontario Libertarian PArty

About The Author

Matthew Christoffer Roger Radford was born in Trenton Ontario in 1977.  After moving around a few times, his family settled in Campbellford, in the beautiful Trent Hills in Northumberland County.

Matthew spent... More

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