"Unacceptable" Yukon Party government tactics stall NDP political donation reforms

Unlimited donations from corporations, unions and non-Yukoners will continue to flow into Yukon’s political system. Yesterday, the Yukon Party government stalled Yukon NDP Leader Liz Hanson’s bill to reform the territory’s political financing laws by referring it to the closed-door Members’ Services Board. The bill, titled the Fairness in Political Contributions Act, would have seen donations to political parties limited to individual Yukoners’ contributions of no more than $1,500 each year.

Since the 2011 Yukon elections, 85% of Yukon NDP donors were ordinary Yukoners. On the other hand, some 73% of the Yukon Party’s supporters are corporations, a number of which are based outside of the territory.

“By refusing to tell Yukoners whether or not he thinks corporations, unions and Outside donors should continue to be able to fund Yukon political parties, Premier Darrell Pasloski has demonstrated that he and the Yukon Party do not believe that they should be accountable to Yukon citizens,” said Hanson, who is also the Yukon NDP’s Democratic Reform Critic. “Corporations don’t vote and unions don’t vote – but individual Yukoners vote. The Fairness in Political Contribution Act simply reinforces our accountability as elected officials to our constituents.”

Yukon’s current political financing rules let any person or organization donate any amount of money to a territorial political party. Provinces like British Columbia and Ontario with similarly lax rules have been rocked by cash-for-access scandals: Ontario government ministers have been caught fulfilling fundraising quotas and the premier of British Columbia has been accused of holding $20,000-a-plate dinners for blue-blooded donors.

Other Canadian jurisdictions are already turning away from B.C. and Ontario-style rules by leveling the political playing field through limits on who can finance political parties. The Alberta government passed a similar law to Hanson’s bill in 2015, which itself echoed a federal ban on union and corporate donations. Neither the Northwest Territories nor Nunavut accept donations from outside their borders.

“When it comes to strengthening the voices of ordinary Yukoners, the Yukon NDP caucus is working hard to get things done,” added Hanson. “The Yukon Party government’s unacceptable refusal to take a public position on fairer rules for political donations speaks for itself. We remain committed to proposing concrete ways to strengthen our democracy.”