St. Boniface - Thursday, June 6, 2002 - by: Mike Reilly


The decision last week by the Canadian Wheat Board (CWB) to contribute $4000 to a dinner with the Prime Minister in Winnipeg underscores the need for major reforms to political funding regulations in Canada. If the recent Publics Works scandals have demonstrated anything, it's that private companies and Crown corporations have an expectation that political donations should result in access to government money, and conversely, access to government money should result in political donations. The privilege of holding public office should not be an opportunity to influence funds for any party.




A spokesman for the Wheat Board justified the expense as necessary so that the directors of the board would be visible to the PM, thereby enhancing the CWB's ability to serve it's members. In addition, the CWB denied it was demonstrating favouritism since it has also contributed to an Alliance fundraiser. A public corporation like the CWB justifying a political contribution as "an entry fee for doing business" is outrageous. The federal government has an obligation to serve all public institutions equally, regardless of whether or not they contribute to political parties.




Canadians must demand reforms to the political contribution system to limit financial influence and the resulting conflicts of interest. Public agencies must not use public funds to curry favour with politicians, nor should elected officials force such agencies to be beholden. No one's interests are served by the systems of influence peddling we have now.


Mike Reilly