Monday, September 26, 2011

Third party election ads are a scam

Should unions be allowed to run partisan ads during an election campaign? We have laws governing the amount of money each political party can receive in donations from a single source, and how much it can spend on a campaign. This effectively limits a party’s advertising campaign unless, of course, a friendly union or related third-party spends millions on TV ads that support its platform.

How democratic is that?

Why should any group other than political parties be allowed to run partisan ads? Individuals vote, not groups. Individuals are allowed to join political parties and campaign for their representatives. And on election day they can vote for the candidate of their choice. So, why do we need third-party groups interfering with this process?

The setting up of a group like the unions have done with “Working Families” is clearly a way of circumventing our election financing laws and is a worrying trend in Ontario politics. We have political parties to represent individuals—that’s their purpose. If a group of individuals don’t like a party’s record or platform, join one of the opposing parties or form a new one, which will have to be registered and play by the rules established to protect the process.

Union members are free to have their own political party—they used to have the NDP—and to participate fully in every aspect of an election. For them to also form “front” organizations so they can multiply the effect of their political spending is to thumb their collective noses at election financing laws.

Moreover, unions which have voting membership in the NDP should have every cent of their election spending charged to that party for purposes of the election financing laws.

A cruel joke to come out of this sham is the participation of private sector unions. The dupes are giving their hard-earned money for ads that support a party that has been shafting them along with the rest of us. Go figure.

Dalton McGuinty is benefitting from the loose alliance he’s formed with the teachers’ and other public service unions. His government keeps their members employed in cushy public sector jobs with fat benefit plans and regular pay increases at overly generous rates; they return the favour by running campaigns favouring his party during general elections.

Quite the fiddle, isn’t it.



© Russell G. Campbell, 2011.
All rights reserved.
The views I express on this blog are my own and do not necessarily represent the views or positions of political parties, institutions or organizations with which I am associated.


  1. How about a law that any union running ads must run equal ads for all parties.
    And they must open their books.

  2. Where is the EC on the matter...seems to me from their view that, it is perfectly fine for the ndp to get money from unions as well from the american unions.

    So, I guess is not a problem here just as long that the unions do not support nor run ads on/for the conservative or else the EC would prop themselves with medias,cameras, lights and action in dealing the conservative severely.

  3. Although I'm not a fan of many unions in Canada, I don't see how we can limit their speech without limiting mine. If I could afford to run ads, on my own or in a group, I would hope I had the freedom to do it.

  4. It's weird but Stephen Harper, when he was at the National Citizens Committee, went to the Supreme Court and fought for the right to have third party ads. His argument was third party groups have free speech and can spend their money as they please. Conservatives rallied around Harper. Now you guys are flip-flopping to the 1998 Liberal position. Either you have seen the light or you are just partisan hacks and are for or against something based on whose ox is being gored.

  5. MaryT, the Taxpayers Federation and Harper's NCC both refused to open their books when they tried third party advertising. Where were you in 1998? We have free speech and the Conservatives battled for it. Now you got it and you want to be a 90's liberal.

  6. Anon Sep. 28, 2011 3:52 PM,

    Wow, an anonymous drive-by smear, right here at my blog. For what it's worth, I have not flipped nor have I flopped on the issue of third-party political ads.

    Unlike too many progressives, conservatives do not all speak with one voice. Most of us consider group-think to be unhealthy for our democracy.

    And, if you believe I'm just a partisan hack, why bother reading my blog? Are you one of those progressives who are most content when giving others insulting labels rather that thinking originally and putting a real name to you words? Anonymity is the cloak of fools.

  7. Big difference, one has a choice to belong or support those org but union members have no choice in where their money goes. And they have no choice in belonging to said union if they want their job. I wonder if the majority of union members really believe all the crap their leaders say, and is it only the head offices of unions that make such decisions.

  8. Russ, I'm not sure that the ads of which you speak can be labeled "partisan" if indeed they do not specifically promote a particular party. I agree there is union funding behind some of them, but, for example, the ETFO ads encourage voters to support candidates who support public education, the Samsung ads urge voters to support candidates who support a green energy plan. Merely because these ads are in conflict with elements of Mr. Hudak's platform places them more in the area of "If the shoe fits...." One might have to ask oneself why ads asking for support for education and green energy are automatically labelled partisan anti-Hudak ads. Again, if the shoe....

  9. loveyershoes,

    Good point: the ETFO ads do seem to be ineffective--no call to action. Ads by “Working Families” do target a specific party, however.