Feature

Canada: Get big business into politics

The Canadian business community will have to join together to “balance the political equation by creating its own Super PAC”

Tom FlanaganThe Globe and Mail

Organized labor has “hijacked the electoral process” in Canadian provinces, said Tom Flanagan. Canadians love to sneer at the corrosive role of money in U.S. politics, but the fact is, we too have Super PACs—they’re just not declared as such. While interest groups are restricted from buying unlimited ads to influence federal elections, they are relatively unhindered at the provincial level, and labor unions are exploiting that loophole. In last year’s Ontario provincial election, for example, the unions together spent more on advertising than either the Liberals or the Progressive Conservatives. That might not matter if they targeted candidates of all parties, “but in fact their activity was directed monolithically against the Progressive Conservatives.” The blitz of negative advertising from unions freed up the Liberals to “take the high road, with positive ads,” so they came out looking better and won the race. These ad buys allow unions “to exercise enormous political power without accepting governmental responsibility”—just like the pressure groups we so decry in the U.S. Until the loophole is closed, there’s just one thing to be done: The Canadian business community will have to join together to “balance the political equation by creating its own Super PAC.” The only entity that can match the spending power of big labor is big business. 

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