A woman casts her vote for the federal election in a polling station on Toronto’s Ward Island on Monday May 2, 2011. A discussion paper prepared for Elections Canada suggests the use of “bots” on social media to spread disinformation, amplify political messages or disparage others could be monitored and regulated in the same way as automated phone messages during federal campaigns.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

At least 20 people donated max to both Liberals and Conservatives in 2018

People who max out their individual donations to both parties are ‘hedging their bets’ ahead of the fall election

The chairman of the board of Bombardier, a scion of the Rotman family, the chairman of a major power company — these prominent Canadians all gave as much money as they’re allowed, or close to it, to both the Liberals and Conservatives in 2018.

They are among at least 20 Canadians who gave substantially to the country’s two most fiercely opposed parties last year, according to an analysis of public Elections Canada documents by The Canadian Press. Such donations are fully legal: a person can give to all the political parties if he or she wishes. But they are unusual.

Annual returns for last year submitted by the two parties were compared by both names and postal codes to find people who gave 90 per cent or more of the maximum donation, which at the time was $1,575. Names listed on the returns of both parties that were paired with different postal codes were excluded.

The resulting list is a who’s-who of the upper crust in Canada, including numerous corporate executives, officers of the Order of Canada, and people with buildings named after them.

There are Blake Goldring and Amy Kaiser — the former an officer of the Order of Canada and executive chairman of AGF Management Ltd., the latter a former chair of the SickKids hospital foundation and a professor at the University of Toronto.

There are also David Cornhill, the former chair of AltaGas; Gordon Rawlinson, who owns Rawlco Radio based in Saskatchewan (his wife is also on the list); and Donald K. Johnson, the investor who is also a member of the Order of Canada.

Add those to the aforementioned Pierre Beaudoin (Bombardier), Kenneth Rotman (Clairvest Group), James Temerty (Northland Power), and several others.

Multiple people on the list made their donations to each party on the same day.

The Canadian Press attempted to reach many of the donors, but most did not respond or declined to comment.

The one donor to respond, the former chair of the Canadian Jewish Political Affairs Committee Sherry Firestone, said her donation to the Liberals was for a fundraiser and the donation to the Conservatives was a fee for attending the party’s 2018 convention as an observer.

In an emailed statement, a spokesperson for the Liberals highlighted the “growing success” of their grassroots fundraising and emphasized the implementation of transparency rules around the party’s fundraising events.

A spokesperson for the Conservative party said if someone “chooses to donate to multiple parties, they’re within the rules to do just that.” He said due to the volume of donations the party receives, the number of dual-party donors was not particularly notable.

People who max out their individual donations to both parties are “hedging their bets” ahead of the fall election, according to Duff Conacher, the head of Democracy Watch, an ethics watchdog.

“With those donations, they are able to at least buy access to the top people in the parties, and having that access gives them a chance to have influence over their decisions,” Conacher said.

Conacher also said that, given the maximum donation is so low relative to the sums that used to be spent for corporate donations that are no longer permitted, it made sense for those looking for access to max out their contributions to both parties.

After the Liberal government was elected in 2015, it made a pledge that “there should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties.”

But the party soon faced criticism for a series of fundraisers that were attended by people lobbying the government.

The Liberals responded by publishing lists of attendees at fundraisers, though they were accused of not living up to their own rules as late as September 2018.

The Liberals have also on occasion accused the Conservatives of holding cash-for-access events, and of a lack of transparency.

At the beginning of this year, new rules from Elections Canada came into force obliging parties to disclose fundraising events to Elections Canada.

ALSO READ: Court orders Elections Canada to review moving voting day over religious worries

ALSO READ: Behind-the-scenes work on skills policy detailed in election-tinged documents

Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A philanthropic twist on Fernie’s Australia Day festivities

Various local businesses hosted events and fundraisers for the Australian bushfires

The FSA Gumball Challenge back for round two

The snowmobile event will cover hundreds of acres of terrain

Fernie SAR responds to injured skier

Fernie Search and Rescue (SAR) was activated on January 27 after receiving… Continue reading

International Snow Science Workshop coming to Fernie

World leaders in the snow industry will be flocking to Fernie in… Continue reading

Teck donates land to Elkford Housing Society

The land donation ceremony took place on January 16

VIDEO: Feds look to help 126 Canadians quarantined in China for coronavirus

China has confirmed more than 4,500 cases of the new virus, with more than 100 deaths

Sap thief taps Saanich park maple trees, faces hefty fine

One tree found with four taps in Mount Doug Park

B.C. reports first coronavirus in Vancouver region

First patient visited Wuhan, China, reported symptoms

Uber threatens legal action to ‘defend its right’ to operate in Surrey

‘I have no concerns,’ Mayor Doug McCallum replies

Victoria resident says WestJet employee uttered racist comment, refused to let her on plane

Customer claims she was told ‘You guys can’t handle your alcohol’ by WestJet employee

Bystander who tried to help dog being attacked not liable for its death: B.C. tribunal

Owner of dog killed tried to get $5,000 in damages from man who tried to save it

INFOGRAPHIC: See how fast your B.C. city grew in 2019

The province’s fastest-growing municipalities were located on Vancouver Island

Landowner hearings begin for Trans Mountain expansion in Alberta

Detailed route talks start in Spruce Grove, in B.C. communities soon

Alessia Cara to host and perform at 2020 Juno Awards

Multi-platinum Canadian singer-songwriter also up for six awards, including Artist of the Year

Most Read