Monday, November 21, 2005

Interest Groups Not In The Liberal Interest

Hoisted by their own petard on donation limits to political parties, the Liberals are now trying to minimize the damage by handicapping special interest groups:

The federal Liberals will push this week for new rules to limit fundraising by interest groups that take an active role in election campaigns — and put Conservative Leader Stephen Harper on the hot seat.

Tomorrow, cabinet is expected to consider a proposal to bring donations to interest groups in line with existing political financing rules — $5,000 for individuals and $1,000 for corporations. The limits would apply just for the period of an election.

Once approved by cabinet, the Liberals will then push to have the new rules quickly passed by the Commons and in place for the federal campaign, which could begin next week.


While the proposal is pitched as an initiative to boost fairness, it's also an effort by the Liberals to mute the conservative think tanks and advocacy groups that could be vocal on everything from same-sex marriage to the Kyoto accord in the campaign.

And it's also an effort to put Harper, who just released his accountability and ethics package, on the hot seat if he comes out opposed to the proposed limits.

Only in Canada is pressure group political advertising during a campaign considered undue interference in the political process. To say nothing of the timing of this particular bill, too.

One wonders how expansive a definition the Liberals would make of the term interest groups. Scott Reid has already stated that anyone who attempts to influence public policy should register as a lobbyist, a definition that could encompass even lowly bloggers.

The article also lets slip the Liberals' likely intentions to have this legislation selectively enforced against groups such as the National Citizens' Coalition, Campaign Life Coalition and the Fraser Institute, while groups that defend the Liberal Party will be allowed to break it with impunity.

Just as Liberal Party values are Canadian values, so too is the Liberal Party interest the public interest.

Source: Toronto Star

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