Liberals vote against bill to ensure fairness in election ads
Ted Arnott, MPP
Wellington – Halton Hills
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 20, 2011
Liberals vote against bill to ensure fairness in election ads
(Queen’s Park) – The spirit of Ontario’s election advertising spending limits is being flouted, says
Wellington-Halton Hills MPP Ted Arnott. But the Liberals, he added, don’t seem to mind—as long
as they stand to benefit politically.
Mr. Arnott was responding to the McGuinty Liberals’ decision Thursday to vote against his Private
Member’s Bill 195, the Banning Collusion in Electoral Advertising Act. If passed, the legislation
would have banned collusion between a political party and a third party—an external organization—
for the purposes of advertising in an election campaign.
“This bill is needed to ensure fairness,” said Mr. Arnott following the vote. “It was a common-sense
response to those who would try to get around our laws that limit the amount parties can spend on
External organizations currently have no limits on the amount they can spend supporting or
attacking a political candidate or party during an election. Political parties, on the other hand, must
abide by campaign spending limits.
“We have campaign spending limits so that one party cannot gain an unfair advantage by flooding
the airwaves with advertising to the point that the other parties and other perspectives are unable to
compete,” explained Mr. Arnott during debate on his bill. “I believe these limits are necessary and in
the public interest.”
In the last two provincial election campaigns, the Working Families Coalition spent millions attacking
the Ontario PC Party, its leaders and candidates. That, said Mr. Arnott, was to the direct benefit of
Premier Dalton McGuinty and the Ontario Liberals.
“If there really were no direct links between Working Families and the Liberals, the Liberals would
have had no reason to vote against my bill,” said Mr. Arnott. “But they did vote against it, and it
appears they did so not out of respect for fairness in elections—but rather out of selfish political
– 30 –
Ted Arnott, MPP
Ontario Hansard – 19-May2011
BANNING COLLUSION IN
ELECTORAL ADVERTISING ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 INTERDISANT
LA COLLUSION DANS LE CADRE
DE LA PUBLICITÉ ÉLECTORALE
Mr. Arnott moved second reading of the following bill:
Bill 195, An Act to amend the Election Finances Act to ban collusion in electoral advertising / Projet
de loi 195, Loi modifiant la Loi sur le financement des élections pour interdire la collusion dans le
cadre de la publicité électorale.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Pursuant to standing order 98, the honourable member has
12 minutes for his presentation. Mr. Arnott.
Mr. Ted Arnott: I’m pleased to have this opportunity to speak about my private member’s bill, Bill
195, the Banning Collusion in Electoral Advertising Act, and why it’s needed to ensure fairness and
transparency in our provincial election campaigns.
As Canadians, we rightly value-indeed, we treasure-our democratic rights. Willingly we carry out our
responsibilities as citizens in a democratic society. In one of his seminal fireside chats, the wartime
President of the United States, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, told Americans, “We must be the great
arsenal of democracy.” Yes, Franklin Roosevelt was an American, but I think it’s interesting to point
out that he spent countless summers at Campobello Island in New Brunswick, where his family had
a summer home. He was the most Canadian of US Presidents. I’m sure there was no other
American President in history who spent more of his life on Canadian soil than FDR.
In our own time and in our own context, we might discuss the arsenals of democracy in a different
way. Money, as we know, is needed to sustain our arsenal of democracy. In Ontario, each campaign
needs some of the financial resources of its supporters to purchase the signs, to pay for the phones,
to fund the leader’s tour, to print and distribute pamphlets and to buy advertising. Campaign
advertising, of course, is one of the biggest expenses, and as we know, television advertising is
very, very expensive.
In order to maintain the fairness of our elections, we have established spending limits. We have
them, among other reasons, so that well-funded special interests cannot determine the outcome of
elections, so that big money cannot buy an election. We have campaign spending limits so that one
party cannot gain an unfair advantage by flooding the airwaves with advertising to the point that the
other parties and other perspectives are unable to compete. I believe these limits are necessary and
in the public interest.
We believe, and we assert, that the Ontario Liberal Party has attempted to gain such unfair
advantage through an alliance with the so-called Working Families Coalition. In the last two
provincial elections, the Working Families Coalition has funded multi-million-dollar ad campaigns
attacking the Ontario PC Party, its leaders and its candidates, we believe to the direct benefit of the
Ontario Liberal Party. We suspect they’ll do it again this fall if given the chance. But who are these so-called working families? Do all of its members and contributors agree with
My wife, Lisa Arnott, has been a public school teacher for some 25 years. Accordingly, she is a
member of the Ontario elementary school teachers’ federation, which I understand is one of the
contributors to the Working Families Coalition. My wife supports me, and she votes for me-as far as
I know, secret ballots being another factor in our democratic system. But it appears that some of
Lisa’s union dues are dedicated, against her wishes, to the cause of my defeat and that of my
colleagues. At our house, we don’t think that’s fair. It’s wrong, and it’s one of the reasons I became
interested in this issue.
If Lisa worked in the Catholic system instead of the public system, it appears she would be
compelled to pay even more to support efforts to fund my defeat. This year, the Ontario English
Catholic Teachers’ Association decided to extract an extra $60 from each of its members to fund a
$3-million war chest for its own campaign to support the Liberals. That’s in addition to what that
union is doing to support the Working Families Coalition.
How many of their members, and how many members of other unions, have had their union dues
taken away from them, without their consent, to fund political advertising to support a party that they
as individuals do not support? This is one of the fundamental questions that the government has yet
Let’s look at the organizations that comprise the Working Families Coalition. This was taken off the
Working Families website this morning: Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association; Ontario
Secondary School Teachers’ Federation; Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario; Ontario
Nurses’ Association; Canadian Auto Workers; International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Local 128;
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers; millwrights; International Union of Operating
Engineers, Local 793; painters’ district council 46; Ontario Pipe Trades Council; Service Employees
Again, these organizations have every right to participate in the election, and their members
individually have every right to support whoever they want. But do they have the right to collude with
one political party, coordinating their advertising to support that political party, to get around the
campaign spending limits that the other parties must obey by law? I submit that they do not.
I’ve been fortunate to have another private member’s ballot item at this late date in the 39th
Parliament. Given that we’re in the lead-up to a provincial election, I wanted to take this opportunity
to draw attention to this important issue that may have a significant impact on that election: giving
one party a significant and unfair advantage over the others.
If passed, my Bill 195 would ban collusion between a political party and a third party-in other words,
an external organization-for the purposes of advertising in an election campaign.
Canadian Press reports that Working Families and other so-called third parties currently “have no
limits on the amount they can spend supporting or attacking a political candidate or party during an
election, while the parties themselves are limited to total campaign spending of approximately $8
million this year.”
For the Liberal Party to be able to get around these spending limits would, of course, for them, be
hugely advantageous. It is my understanding that officials from Working Families and the Ontario
Liberal Party maintain that there are no connections between their respective organizations. If that is
true, we would submit that the Liberals in this House would have no good reason to oppose this bill. If they do oppose our efforts, it would be a very clear indication that there are, in fact, links between
Working Families and the Ontario Liberals and, we suggest, possibly collusion.
On May 7, 2009, the Select Committee on Elections met to consider issues pertaining to advertising
during elections. The committee heard from Mr. Greg Essensa, who serves as the Chief Electoral
Officer of Ontario. Mr. Essensa told the committee that he believes “that a review and update of
Ontario’s election finance laws is warranted.”
He also explained that under current law, third parties are free to co-operate and coordinate their
efforts with recognized parties. I quote Mr. Essensa’s remarks from Hansard:
“There is no specific provision that prohibits a third party from co-operating or coordinating its
advertising with either a political party or one of its candidates, provided that the party/candidate is
not actually controlling the third party’s advertising.”
To be clear, I don’t dispute the right of external organizations-or individuals, for that matter-to speak
or advertise for or against any political party or candidate. That is their right and it must be protected.
But if they deliberately conspire with another political party, especially when they do so simply to get
around our election spending laws, we maintain that that’s wrong.
In cases of collusion, third party organizations should be prepared to face scrutiny, and their
spending limits should have to come within the party’s existing spending limits. Mr. Essensa tells us
that there are already more stringent requirements in place federally and in British Columbia, New
Brunswick and Quebec and that there were also regulations being proposed in Alberta at the time of
Again I quote Mr. Essensa’s testimony from Hansard: “It is, or will be, an offence in these
jurisdictions to collude for the purposes of circumventing spending limits for political parties,
candidates and third parties.” Similarly, Bill 195 would seek to ensure that there can be no collusion
between third parties and political parties. It also extends the limit that section 38 of the Election
Finances Act imposes on campaign expenses incurred by a registered party and persons or bodies
acting on its behalf during a campaign period to include advertising expenses incurred by a third
party during a campaign period if the third party acted with the express or implied knowledge and
consent of a registered political party.
If the McGuinty Liberals are so sure that there is no collusion between Working Families and the
Ontario Liberal Party, logically, they should support this bill. But if they don’t support it, fair-minded
people will wonder, “What do they have to hide?”
People also need to realize that this issue goes well beyond Working Families and what we believe
may well be their efforts to collude with the Liberal Party in the election this fall. This issue goes far
beyond that. We must consider not only Working Families but also other external organizations with
undue capacity to influence the outcome of elections, the election of 2011 and many more elections,
perhaps, to come.
Mr. Speaker, you and I have served in this Legislature long enough to see things come full circle. I
can recall that during the late 1980s, the Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation was
furious with the Liberal government of David Peterson. At that time, teachers were very concerned
with the management of their pension plan. The teachers’ union wanted 50% control of the board of
the teachers’ pension plan, but the Liberals refused. When OSSTF went public with their concerns, Premier Peterson, I recall, dismissed them, calling
them “silly.” That was the word that he used. I recall that the teachers’ federation leaders were
inflamed by this and decided to mobilize their members against the Liberals. So, in advance of the
1990 election-my very first election-the teachers’ unions were working hard to defeat the Liberal
government of the day. My recollection is that instructions from union headquarters came down
urging teachers to get involved in the election and get behind the candidate in each riding who
seemed to have the best chance to defeat the Liberal candidate.
My point is this: We don’t know what the political landscape will be like in five years, 10 years or
even 20 years. What we do know is that when it comes to our democracy, the people of Ontario
rightly expect us to uphold the highest standards of fairness. They expect all parties to obey the law
in spirit as well as letter. When there is a way to get around the election laws and rules, when one
party gains an unfair advantage by colluding with an outside force, we have a situation that is
We have a situation today where the spirit of the election spending limits is being flagrantly flouted.
Bill 195 represents a real and meaningful opportunity to change that. It’s an opportunity to ensure
that the law is upheld, loopholes are closed and elections are fair, just as the people of Ontario
would expect from all of us. That’s why I would strongly encourage all members of the Legislature to
support this bill this afternoon.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I want to say that I will be supporting the member from Wellington-Halton
Hills, because we, as New Democrats, are as worried about collusion as anyone else.
But I’ve got some concerns, and I’m getting awfully worried about you guys. You guys are so fixated
on this Working Families Coalition that I think it has had a debilitating psychological effect on all of
you. It’s all you think about, each and every day. That’s why I’m concerned. I’m just stating a
concern; I could be wrong. Perhaps you don’t dream about this; you don’t go to bed thinking, “How
am I going to get to that Working Families Coalition?” Maybe you don’t. It appears as if you do,
because so often you guys make reference to Pat Dillon. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Pat Dillon
Mr. Ted Arnott: I did.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: He’s not just after us.
Mr. Frank Klees: Thanks for raising it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): You might want to speak through the Chair.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: But I was about to say that we are not necessarily the recipients of largesse
from that group either; you’re quite right. Indeed, we’re not generous recipients from people like the
taxpayers’ federation, an organization that is not very friendly to the NDP. You probably would agree
with that, yes?
Mr. Frank Klees: They’ve never attacked you.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: The taxpayer federation is, dare I say, a very conservative organization.
Dare I say they are closely affiliated mostly with you guys, but they relate to the Liberals as well, especially with the corporate tax cuts and all. Some people call them a right-wing lobby-I hate the
words “right-wing lobby.” Do they collude with Tories against the rest of them? Would I use the word
“collusion” in that regard? You understand what I’m getting at.
Mr. Ernie Hardeman: I think I know where you’re going.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: And you know the citizens’ coalition too, right? Some people say they are a
right-wing lobby group. Are they Conservative? God knows, yes; oh yes, they are. And boy, are they
affiliated to you guys mostly. Do they collude with you?
Mr. Ted McMeekin: Oh, no.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I don’t know. I don’t think so. Do they connect with you? Absolutely-
ideologically, philosophically-yes, they do.
But if you were to extend the same logic to the Working Families Coalition, one wonders whether or
not there are similarities between that group and the taxpayers’ federation and the citizens’ coalition.
You’ll dismiss it, of course. You’ll say there are no similarities. But, gee, I think there are.
I don’t know that there is collusion, necessarily. They favour some over others, to be sure. I remind
folks that the Working Families Coalition is not known to endorse a whole lot of New Democrats
either, but they set themselves up to defend certain things, rightly or wrongly, as the taxpayers’
federation does, as the citizens’ coalition does.
Indeed, even the banks advertise from time to time for their own interests. Do they collude with
Tories? I don’t know. Are they affiliated? Yes. Are the banks close to Tories? I think so. Oh, God, are
they ever affiliated and close. But they’re often just as close to the Liberals, God knows, with the
corporate tax cuts and all. They are such beneficiaries of the largesse of Liberal governments.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Tell them about insurance companies, Rosie.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Insurance companies similarly have a lot of good friends in the
Conservative Party; indeed, they have a lot of good friends in the Liberal Party. Do they collude? I
Mr. Mike Colle: They concoct.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: They concoct, indeed, to collude from time to time.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: I just wanted to be fair if I could. I’m trying to be fair. Am I being fair? I think
There are other groups. Who else? Pharmaceutical companies, yeah. The CFIB, the Canadian
Federation of Independent Business: They’re not close to New Democrats that I’m aware of. Let me
know if you think I’m wrong.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: But they advertise for their own interest, and they reach out as much as
they can to whomever supports them.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, often they’ve got a stranglehold on some parties more than others.
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Who supports us?
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Yes, I often wonder who supports the NDP. If anybody should be
introducing such a motion today it should be the NDP. It’s the NDP that should be introducing a
motion that there shall be no collusion between the very wealthy in this country and two major
political parties that are their spokesmen and spokeswomen. But I don’t want to be too harsh about
those things, really. I might just want to be fair.
Look, New Democrats don’t like any collusion because collusion usually is between big players.
That’s the way I think about it in my little mind. When little people collude, it’s like, what are they
colluding for? How to be poorer than they are, if you know what I mean? When rich people collude,
it’s about being richer, getting wealthy, right? That’s collusion in my mind. When oil companies get
together, that’s collusion. When they have similar prices at the gas stations I call that collusion. They
claim there is no such collusion. When the prices are the same throughout, it appears to me that
there’s collusion afoot. The insurance companies, by and large, are the same; the banks, by and
large, are the same. These are the big fat cats that dominate the economic field and that play us like
marionettes. They play you guys but you just don’t realize it. They play the Tories-no, they don’t play
them because they’re part of it; they’re affiliated, like Mike Harris, who belongs to a number of big
corporations like Magna. God bless. I read that he was earning $780,000 bucks for being a board
member. Am I mistaken? Is it $780,000. God bless, I say. Michael, what are you and I going to get
when we retire out of this place?
Mr. Mike Colle: Peanuts.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: We don’t even have a pension.
Mike Harris left with $820,000 with his buyout. What do the Conservative members get since 1995?
About $4,000 or $5,000 for RRSPs and the wonderful contribution plan that we got. Mike Harris got
rid of that golden pension that we used to have. Remember the salaries we used to make? We used
to make, I think, $44,000 when we got here, Ted, you and I. Some $44,000 plus one third tax free;
that would have made it-what?-$63,000, $65,000 or something? Man, that was a big salary we were
earning in those days. Mike Harris wanted to get rid of that golden pension that we had. Do you
remember that golden pension that we would have had, Ted, you and I? My God, we would have
been millionaires. He cuts the strings to that wonderful golden pension and he lives as a millionaire
and leaves these poor schleps here with nothing.
I was getting carried away; sorry. I was forgetting myself. But now we’re talking about collusion
between big players who influence their own company’s efforts to make a little more. That, to me, is
collusion. I know that there are a whole lot of groups-by the way, some unions support us, and some
of you Tories will call that collusion. I understand that. Would that union members and union support supported us, because we would be forming government each and every time. I don’t call that
I want to leave some time for my-
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: It’s okay.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Are we okay here?
If there was indeed collusion between unions and New Democrats, we would be forming
Mr. Rosario Marchese: Member from Nepean, we wait for your comic relief to come very shortly.
As you bellow your strength in this House, as your voice rebounds from one wall to the other each
and every day, God bless-is there collusion between you and the banks? I don’t know. You and the
insurance companies? I don’t know. You and the citizens coalition taxpayers federation? I don’t
know. Unions and New Democrats? I don’t know. So I say I support this bill here today because I
think it would do us all a favour. It would do us all a favour for New Democrats, Liberals and Tories
to stand up and say we’re against any kind of collusion-
Mr. Mike Colle: All collusion.
Mr. Rosario Marchese: -all collusion connected to any political party once and for all, even when
we suspect collusion between Conservatives and other groups. So I stand with you today, member
from Wellington-Halton Hills, to oppose collusion of any kind.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. David Zimmer: I’m going to share my time with the member from Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-
I’ve studied this bill, and, in my opinion, it’s just a fuzzy piece of legislation, brought in a political year
as we’re approaching a political and obvious election. I say at best it’s confusing, or mischievous
and redundant. Let me tell you why I think it’s confusing, mischievous and redundant. I essentially
want to make three points.
First of all, when you read through the existing legislation that’s on the books, the Election Finances
Act already distinguishes between advertising expenses incurred by third parties and advertising
expenses incurred by political parties, constituency associations, candidates and others acting on
their behalf. That distinction is already on the books. It’s crystal clear.
When you read the existing act, it goes on and points out that if third party advertising is not at
arm’s-length, then it is already included under candidate reporting or spending limits. So there is
already a mechanism to deal with the situation that this private member’s bill is supposedly designed
to get after. Now, if it is at arm’s-length, then it’s third party advertising and it would not be included. That’s one
problem with the bill: The mischief is already dealt with in the existing legislation. So that’s an
either/or situation that’s already captured.
My second point is that the bill is flawed. Here’s where it gets really fuzzy: When you read through
the bill, it talks about collusion and it talks about express or implied knowledge. There’s no definition
section in the bill, so nobody knows exactly what one means or what the bill is intended to capture
by the word “collusion”; neither does it define what the bill is supposed to mean by “express or
implied knowledge” of third party advertising expenses.
If the bill were to pass, we’re going to get into a really swampy area where a whole lot of people are
going to try to figure out just what is meant by collusion, what constitutes collusion, what constitutes
express knowledge or implied knowledge-and “implied knowledge” is another one of those fuzzy
things, like “collusion.” The bill, as drafted, is going to be impossible to interpret, and if you can’t
interpret it, it’s going to be impossible to enforce. That’s why the bill is technically flawed. So you
take that flaw and you match it with what’s already on the books-that if there’s third party advertising,
it’s already captured and it has got to be reported.
My third point is that the McGuinty government took steps back in 2007 with Bill 218, which was the
Election Statute Law Amendment Act. What that bill said-and it’s crystal clear in that bill, unlike this
sort of fuzzy, mischievous, redundant piece of legislation-was that third parties that spend $500 or
more in an election period have got to register with the Chief Electoral Officer. So you’ve got to
register them. Then, within six months of the election, that registered third party has got to report to
the Chief Electoral Officer on their spending activities.
If they’ve spent more than $5,000, it takes it a step further and really ratchets down on the oversight,
because it says that if you spend more than $5,000, the expenses actually have to be audited and
signed off by a professional auditor. A statement of authorization is also required on behalf of third
party advertising. So all of those mechanisms, to deal with what this member, in his slightly paranoid
political mind, sees as collusion and implied hanky-panky going on behind the scenes, are already
Furthermore, just the other day the Attorney General of Ontario, Mr. Bentley, introduced an act, the
Ensuring Integrity in Ontario Elections Act, 2011, which deals with corrupt practices. There are all
kinds of protections built into the act, and if the Attorney General’s bill goes through, they’ll be
strengthened even more.
The legislation is being fuzzy and redundant and mischievous and all of that sort of stuff. One has to
ask oneself: Why is the legislation being brought forward? The legislation is being brought forward
on the fifth day before we adjourn before the October 2011 election, and it’s just sort of out there to
muddy up the waters and score some political points. It’s all unnecessary, because the legislation is
already on the books. It’s going to be strengthened by the Attorney General’s legislation. This is just
a little political posturing during private members’ business. For this reason, I will not be supporting
this bill, and I urge my fellow members of the Legislature to see through the fuzziness and the
redundancy and mischievousness of this legislation and vote against it.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. Steve Clark: I’m pleased to put a few comments on the record in response to Bill 195, as presented by my colleague the member for Wellington-Halton Hills. I want to commend him for
bringing the bill forward. It’s a bill that I believe is needed in this province. We need to strengthen
Ontario’s election advertising laws. As our Ontario PC critic for democratic reform, I think that the
centre of any true democracy is where everyone plays by the same rules, and I think that’s really the
heart of this bill.
The member from Willowdale uses the word “mischievous.” I would use the word “necessary,”
because I truly believe that this is necessary: We need to strengthen these advertising laws and we
need to make sure that everyone plays by the same rules.
If you want to talk about being mischievous: When Dalton McGuinty and his Attorney General talk in
benign terms and then send their henchmen out to call our Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, corrupt,
because the Attorney General and the Premier-Dalton McGuinty at one point says that he’s just like
Prime Minister Harper, and then the next minute there’s a Liberal email going out insinuating that
federal Conservatives are corrupt. So if you want to talk about being mischievous, if you want to talk
about muddying the water, you can’t have a bill that talks, as the member from Willowdale talks,
The bill from the member for Wellington-Halton Hills puts some integrity back into our election
advertising, because it’s a little rich for the Liberal Party opposite to talk about adding integrity and
cracking down on election fraud when they continue to skirt the election advertising laws. What
we’re proposing here are amendments, through this bill, that need to be done. The member talked
about Working Families, and let’s make no mistake as to where that advertising is directed. It is
directed at our party.
Mr. Lou Rinaldi: That’s why you don’t like it.
Mr. Steve Clark: We’re going to talk about that, member for Northumberland. We’re going to talk
I had the pleasure of running in a by-election. The beauty of by-elections is that you don’t have the
playbook. You don’t have the red book and the orange book and the blue book; you talk about
issues and you talk about people. I’m proud, as is the member for Wellington-Halton Hills, that I had
a wide variety of people support me in my election. I had teachers working on my campaign, nurses-
people, as the member so aptly puts it, whose head bosses at the union use some of their money
for the Working Families Coalition.
I think it’s very important, when these ads are running-actually with our leader, Tim Hudak, in some
of them-some people were shocked and appalled when they realized what the Working Families
were trying to do.
Everyone needs to have limits. We have limits. All candidates, all of our competitors, in the October
6 election will have limits. What we’re talking about is strengthening the playing field so that groups
like Working Families have to play by those same rules, so that there is no collusion, there are no
mischievous emails coming out-as there were this week just after the Attorney General tabled his
election bill-maligning the federal Conservative Party.
You should be ashamed of yourselves for being part of that smear campaign. You should stand in
your place today and support Mr. Arnott and his wonderful bill. We need to stand up for integrity-all
the members. I appreciate the New Democratic Party stating their support for Bill 195. If there’s time to pass the Attorney General’s bill before we adjourn, there’s time to pass this bill as
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: I have only a minute to speak, but I just wanted to say that I support the member
from Wellington-Halton Hills. I support his initiative. It’s absolutely necessary to tighten up the rules.
We do not support collusion. We’re not the beneficiaries of it in the New Democratic Party.
It is very interesting, following the federal election. I say to folk who are part of Working Families or
any other group that pretends to be an amalgam of folk and pretends to be non-partisan but, in fact,
is very partisan: It just doesn’t work. We looked at strategic voting in the federal election; it doesn’t
work. If your aim is to attack Progressive Conservatives, for example, guess what? In the last
election, it did not work.
Look at voting for someone, for heaven’s sake. If there’s one message I get out in the last 40
seconds it’s this: We shouldn’t be voting against anybody. We should be voting for someone-for
party platforms, for performance, for the person or for the party-not against someone. Any group or
any person who advocates that kind of manipulation of the system, whether on a gross scale or
simply at the ballot box, really doesn’t understand the very terms of democracy: that what we’re
supposed to be about here is putting forward something positive and voting for something positive.
New Democrats are absolutely opposed to union or corporate donations. We always have been and
always will be. I support the bill.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate?
Mr. Rick Johnson: It’s a pleasure to stand up and speak to this bill this afternoon. We all know the
purposes of why this is being brought forward. My colleague from Willowdale was pretty clear about
this. It’s because of the antics that occurred during the last federal election, and we step forward as
a government to bring forward legislation to ban dirty tricks during elections.
The right to vote, we all agree, is a fundamental human right, and it’s something that our forefathers
all fought for to make sure that we have this maintained in this province. When things are going
along, we know the reasons why this occurred. There were phone calls that were being made. This
has been happening across Canada. We brought forward legislation to tighten up those loopholes,
because it was a loophole. Elections Canada has it; we didn’t have it in Ontario. We want to make
sure that things like phone calls in the middle of the night, saying that you’re working for one
candidate when you’re actually not, disrupting people’s lives by telling them to go to other voting
booths or voting poll stations-these are things that need to be dealt with. That’s why we brought
forward the motion that we did as a government. I think it is something that is absolutely needed and
Let’s talk about the Working Families Coalition. This is a concerned group of people who remember
the years 1995-2003. They remember the problems that were had. They remember the
underfunding of education that was so predominant. I was on the school board back then when the
reports were brought forward that proved that schools were being underfunded by over $1 billion. I
remember the famous statement by the former Minister of Education from that time, who said, “Let’s
create a crisis in education.” So we’ve been there. The fact that there’s a group that has gotten together to speak about this, raise that issue and remind people-I think they’re just looking after their
If we want to talk about organizations working against people, what about the pharmacy campaign
last year, coincidentally launched in 22 campaigns? Who ran that campaign? Do you remember the
name of that person?
Ms. Cheri DiNovo: Independent pharmacists.
Mr. Rick Johnson: Yeah, independent pharmacists. Right. I think his name was Mark Spiro who
ran that campaign.
Interjection: Oh, yeah. What does he do now?
Mr. Rick Johnson: He’s now running, of course, the PC campaign.
Interjection: No collusion there.
Mr. Rick Johnson: No, there’s no collusion. No, we wouldn’t call it that.
I recall the advertising going on. There was advertising that was run on the radio stations across the
province, including in my area. One of the ads said that the Liberal government was cutting $1 billion
out of front-line health care, which is not true, because in our budget it showed that we are clearly
increasing funding for health care by over $2.5 billion. So we launched a complaint with the
advertising council of Canada, and we got a response three days later from the advertising council
of Canada. What they said was, “This is a political advertisement. It doesn’t have to be truthful.” To
me, that is something we should be talking about, but that was the actual ruling we got back from
the advertising council of Canada: “A political campaign does not have to be truthful.”
We’re seeing the results of this when the party opposite is talking about: “We can lower the
electricity rates. We can do this without impacting you.”
Mr. Rick Johnson: The cuts are coming. That’s the behind the scenes stuff.
“Collusion”-I looked it up. It says that it’s “a secret agreement between two or more parties for
fraudulent, illegal or deceitful purposes.” The fact that a group of workers, working groups, wants to
work together to tell the truth and bring things out about what they believe parties are talking about, I
think there’s nothing wrong with that. I think they should be working together.
When I was on school boards, we worked to lobby and raise awareness about the underfunding that
the previous Conservative Party was doing to education. We fought for that, and we were successful
in turning that around. It took an election to do it, but we were successful in getting it turned around.
We’ve taken great steps to look at the election statute ourselves under Bill 218, the Election Statute
Law Amendment Act. I believe that when we’re working forward on these, we will get this cleared up
so that fraud cannot occur. We’re tightening up some loopholes. I commend my colleague from Willowdale-how many times did he use the word “fuzziness”? Many
times he used it. But we all know what this motion is about, coming forward at this point in time. It’s a
chance to try to raise awareness; it’s political posturing, and nothing more than that.
What we’re doing is, we will be clearing up the problems, through our Bill 218, so that they don’t
occur this fall. You know what? That’s going to be good for all parties, because nobody’s an angel in
all of this, I’m sure, and by tightening up the laws, we will be able to cut down on the fraud that is
taking place, misleading people, taking advantage of people, trying to deflect people from it, and I
think it’s very important that we do this.
It’s not clear to me what this bill is trying to achieve. The Election Finances Act already distinguishes
between advertising expenses incurred by third parties, advertising expenses incurred by political
parties and constituency associations. This was brought forward a number of years ago to Elections
Ontario; it was ruled on and it’s been dealt with.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Further debate.
Ms. Lisa MacLeod: I appreciate the opportunity to address this very important piece of legislation
that is more than just housekeeping; it is a very important clarification that is required in our election
laws in Ontario. I feel very confident that, once Tim Hudak forms government, the Ontario PC
caucus will ensure that this bill becomes law if this Liberal government doesn’t.
I applaud my colleague Mr. Arnott from Wellington-Halton Hills. As he’s mentioned to you, his wife is
a teacher who has been forced through her union to campaign against him.
I do feel badly for the members of the government, who have been given some talking points without
understanding this issue from the get-go. I need to explain to them where the loopholes have come
from and why this is a necessary piece of legislation.
I’m going to read some quotes from an original appeal to Elections Ontario from the Ontario PC
Party. According to the Elections Ontario report, which was prepared by the law firm Torys LLP,
Dalton McGuinty’s former chief of staff, Don Guy, the Liberal campaign director in 2003, 2007 and
now in 2011, was among the senior party members to meet with Working Families. Let me quote:
“While we have concluded that the Working Families Coalition was `independent’ of the OLP within
the parameters of control and agency … the WFC’s use of consultants with known Liberal
connections who were simultaneously providing services both to the WFC and the OLP and, where
the very person running the OLP campaign, Don Guy, is president of the polling research firm hired
by the WFC”-get this-“certainly constitutes, in our view, grounds for concern which warranted this
Further, I add from Greg Essensa, the Chief Electoral Officer, in 2009: “The fourth public policy area
for consideration is, should Ontario adopt stricter registration and anti-collusion provisions? Under
the Election Finances Act, there is no specific provision that prohibits a third party from co-operating
or coordinating its advertising with either a political party or one of its candidates, provided that the
party/candidate is not actually controlling the third party’s” agencies.
Furthermore, in the Torys report commissioned by Elections Ontario: “The third party advertising
regime is new to Ontario. The first election under the regime disclosed a number of rough edges,
particularly in circumstances where there is potential for conflicts of interest/collusion between
registered parties and third parties.” That’s why this piece of legislation is here, and I can tell you that if it is not passed before this
election, it will be passed before the next election. In fact, I’ve raised this issue many a time in the
Legislature as well as with the public.
I go to an ad campaign that the Working Families Coalition ran during the Oscars, and I quote
“You don’t buy a spot during the Oscars with chopped liver. This is a well-heeled, well-organized
“In 2003, Liberal backroom operative Marcel Wieder was behind the Working Families’ nasty
negative ad that attacked then-Premier Ernie Eves, proclaiming, `Not this time, Ernie.'”
She goes on to say:
“There are very few rules about third party advertising.
“Third party election advertising is not subject to spending limits.
“Third parties are not required to register with Elections Ontario if they advertise outside the writ
“If our election finance laws have loopholes … isn’t it time to take a second look?”
Our election laws have loopholes. My colleague from Wellington-Halton Hills has decided that the
time is now, before the next election, to fix those loopholes. I might add that every single one of the
complaints my colleagues opposite have made about this piece of legislation could be made about
the same legislation they brought forward earlier this week. In fact, if they really want to make
positive change in Ontario, what they could do, instead of making spurious allegations against the
Prime Minister of Canada, the Conservative Party of Canada, the Ontario PC Party and our leader,
Tim Hudak, is actually add this bill to their bill and we would have no trouble supporting that.
They should also know that case law has interpreted collusion, direct and indirect. We live in a
British parliamentary democracy and tradition. They should know that, on the other side. This bill
could go to committee at the same time.
But it doesn’t stop the fact that many of the principals of the Working Families Coalition are the exact
same people who are behind Dalton McGuinty’s Liberal Party. For example, Don Guy, as I
mentioned earlier, is the president of Pollara. He does polling for the Working Families Coalition; at
the same time, he is the director of Mr. McGuinty’s campaign. In addition, Marcel Wieder, who does
advertising for the Ontario Liberal Party and has contracts with the Ontario Liberal Party, is also the
person responsible for doing ads for the Working Families Coalition. Then, of course, there’s Pat
Dillon, the head of the Working Families Coalition, who has multiple appointments by this
government, who also had face time with the former Minister of Finance who is also the campaign
chair for the Ontario Liberal Party, Mr. Sorbara.
We know through emails that there have been shared ads, scripts and polling details between the
two organizations, and we think that it’s time this loophole is closed. This is a legal issue, it is an
election issue, it is a public policy issue and it is a transparency issue, one where we need to bring
back integrity to this situation.
1510 Again, I believe, in the work that we have done in this House and the amount of times I’ve
challenged the Premier to tell us directly that he does not have anything to do with the Working
Families, that he cannot deny it; he will not deny it, because it is true. We know that there is
collusion between these two parties, the Ontario Liberal Party as well as the Working Families
Coalition. That’s why we fought them in court.
There is a loophole; it needs to be changed. That’s why my colleague from Wellington-Halton Hills is
trying to do something that will restore integrity back into third party advertising laws in this province.
Again, I am disappointed that the Ontario Liberal caucus is sitting here with speaking points and
they do not know what they’re talking about. I can tell you something: Once we pass this law, you
will understand why it is being done-but you don’t.
You are benefiting big time from the $10-million attack-ad campaign that’s about to hit the Ontario
Progressive Conservatives. I wish for one moment that they could actually sit in here as legislators
and not as Liberals and do what is for the public interest, what is for the public good, and close that
loophole that so many members of the media have called on.
Ladies and gentlemen, I appreciate the opportunity. I support my colleague. The Liberals can put
their money where their mouth is and if they want transparency in politics, to do it this way.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The honourable member from Wellington-Halton Hills has
two minutes for his response.
Mr. Ted Arnott: I appreciate the members from my caucus who have supported this and who have
spoken eloquently about it. I also want to express my appreciation to the New Democrats who have
spoken in favour of this bill.
I will address the member for Willowdale, who criticized the bill in his brief remarks. He said the bill
was “fuzzy,” “mischievous” and “redundant,” and he said it was “impossible to interpret.”
Obviously, the member for Willowdale didn’t hear the remarks of the chief election officer-which
were in Hansard-before our legislative committee in May 2009. Since he didn’t hear that, I will repeat
those comments again. This is Mr. Essensa, who is the chief elections officer of Ontario: “There is
no specific provision that prohibits a third party from co-operating or coordinating its advertising with
either a political party or one of its candidates, provided that the party/candidate is not actually
controlling the third party’s advertising.”
Mr. Essensa also reminded the committee that there are already more stringent requirements in
place federally, in BC, in New Brunswick and in Quebec, and there are also regulations being
proposed in Alberta that are similar to this Bill 195.
So when he says that this bill is redundant, he is incorrect. When he says that it’s fuzzy, I would
challenge the member to support this bill, allow it to go to committee so that we can go into the
details-perhaps have public hearings and invite some of the groups forward if they wish to make a
presentation-and deal with amendments that will deal with that concern that he appears to have.
When he suggests it’s mischievous, I’m not sure really what to say to that, other than the fact that
we have an election coming, and I’m pleased to have this opportunity to have a private member’s
ballot opportunity just before the election. This is, to me, a very important issue and a very serious
issue. It’s interesting that, quite frankly, the bill was introduced on Monday of this week. The very next day,
the Liberals introduced their Bill 196. They talk about trying to muddy the waters. That’s exactly what
they were trying to do.
I would say again that we are not opposed in principle to their Bill 196, but we believe that it should
be amended to include the provisions of my Bill 195, to make it fair for all political parties in this next
election and in the years ahead.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): The time for this ballot item has expired. We’ll vote on Mr.
Arnott’s bill in about 50 minutes.
BANNING COLLUSION IN
ELECTORAL ADVERTISING ACT, 2011 /
LOI DE 2011 INTERDISANT
LA COLLUSION DANS LE CADRE
DE LA PUBLICITÉ ÉLECTORALE
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): Mr. Arnott has moved second reading of Bill 195. All those
in favour of the motion will please rise and remain standing until recognized by the Clerk.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): All those opposed to the motion will please rise and remain
standing until recognized by the Clerk.
Cansfield, Donna H.
Dhillon, Vic Dickson, Joe
Takhar, Harinder S.
Wynne, Kathleen O.
The Clerk of the Assembly (Ms. Deborah Deller): The ayes are 9; the nays are 28.
The Acting Speaker (Mr. Jim Wilson): I declare the motion lost.
Second reading negatived.