Friday, January 19, 2007

Renewing the call

With the Wajid Khan situation serving as a prime example of why insider loans can make a mess of electoral financing rules, the NDP is repeating its message that it's time to close the loan loophole:
The New Democratic Party is calling for government to close the loophole in the Canada Elections Act that allows “loans” to become de facto donations. NDP MP Pat Martin says the recent Liberal leadership loan debacle and ongoing case of Wajid Khan provide ample evidence for the government to act on behalf of ordinary Canadians and plug the loophole.

“This is about fairness for ordinary people. The Elections Act is supposed to create a level playing field,” says Martin. “But it’s too easy to circumvent the donation limits with a shell game of so-called ‘loans’.”

The NDP tried to stop the “loans loophole” at the committee stage of the Federal Accountability Act. They proposed amendments so that loans made to candidates:

can be made only through banks, credit unions, or other financial institutions;
and no person may co-sign or guarantee a loan to an amount greater than their personal donation limits, less any direct contribution.
The amendments were defeated by the Liberals and Conservatives.
It may not be likely that such an action will be any more popular with either of the two largest parties than it was when Martin brought the issue up last year. But with the Libs' leadership race now over and the Libs presumably eager to denounce both Khan's tactics and the Cons' lack of accountability, it may not be beyond the realm of possibility that the opposition parties could team up to finally make the needed changes to close the gap.

And even if the Libs are still too focused on their own big-money donors/"creditors" to play along, it's always worth pointing out the continued influence of big-money loans in Canada's political well as the determination of some to preserve that status quo.

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