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Old 03-04-2019, 09:21 AM
KidCharlemagne is offline
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How does the rest of the developed world compare to the US regarding donor influence on politicians?


Are the rest of the developed world's countries' policies influenced as much by corporate/wealthy donors as they are in the US? If not, do those countries have prohibitive laws (and if so, what kind?) or, less likely, is it simply some function of culture?
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:49 AM
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Canada at the federal level restricts political donations.

First, onlyn individuals can donate. Not corporations, not unions.

Second, there are annual limits how much each individual can donate. There are limits for donations to a political party, and also for donations to candidates.

Third, no secret donations. All donations must be publicly reported to Elections Canada, the non-partisan agency which runs federal elections.
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Old 03-04-2019, 12:30 PM
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You can take a look at the Corruption Perceptions Index, which is an attempt to rank all countries. The USA generally ranks among the least corrupt. However, that's not measuring the exact same thing as donor influence. Many countries have stricter laws regarding donations to lawmakers and in theory less opportunity for business interests to purchase influence, but in the third world this generally just drives the process into outright bribery under the table. For example, here's an article about how things work in South Africa.
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Old 03-04-2019, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ITR champion View Post
You can take a look at the Corruption Perceptions Index, which is an attempt to rank all countries. The USA generally ranks among the least corrupt. However, that's not measuring the exact same thing as donor influence. Many countries have stricter laws regarding donations to lawmakers and in theory less opportunity for business interests to purchase influence, but in the third world this generally just drives the process into outright bribery under the table. For example, here's an article about how things work in South Africa.
Yeah I've seen the corruption index but, like you, came to the conclusion it wouldn't capture what I was talking about. I agree about the third world as well which is why I was sticking to developed.

Last edited by KidCharlemagne; 03-04-2019 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 03-04-2019, 03:52 PM
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Canada at the federal level restricts political donations.

First, onlyn individuals can donate. Not corporations, not unions.

Second, there are annual limits how much each individual can donate. There are limits for donations to a political party, and also for donations to candidates.

Third, no secret donations. All donations must be publicly reported to Elections Canada, the non-partisan agency which runs federal elections.
I don't follow Canadian politics - are the policies generally considered to be the will of the majority (within the Constitutional guidelines) or is there some other mechanism of corrupt influence?

Man I remember a time when I was proud to be an American. Now, not so much

Last edited by KidCharlemagne; 03-04-2019 at 03:54 PM.
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Old 03-04-2019, 11:09 PM
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You can take a look at the Corruption Perceptions Index, which is an attempt to rank all countries. The USA generally ranks among the least corrupt....
The U.S.A. now ranks below all other developed countries on that list except Spain, Italy, Portugal, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan and Eastern Europe. In 2015, the U.S.A. was ahead of Estonia, Ireland, Hongkong and Japan, but in three years has fallen behind all four of those.
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Old 03-05-2019, 12:50 AM
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Here are the general rules for political parties in the UK:

https://www.electoralcommission.org....itical-parties

Additional rules apply to election expenditure, in relation to both candidates and parties: there are fairly strict limits.

https://www.electoralcommission.org....-or-campaigner


We tend to rely on the principle of transparency. Members of Parliament have a register of financial interests, where they're supposed to list donations, gifts and so on, and formally to declare an interest before speaking on an issue where they might have an interest. There have been scandals over rank bribery in the past, and there is currently an investigation into possible illegal funding in the Brexit referendum.

But it's hard to assess influence in a more general sense: would political parties take a different line on taxation or environment (or any other sort of) regulation if there were no large-scale donors in their ear at fundraising events? There was a huge row when Blair's government stalled a ban on tobacco sponsorship of sports events, ostensibly on some practical grounds, but it also happened to involve a major donor to the party.
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Old 03-07-2019, 11:33 AM
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There have been scandals over rank bribery

As I understand it this "rank bribery" (aka Cash for Questions) would be totally above board and regular in the US system. A lobbyist handed out campaign contributions in direct exchange for legislative actions. Possibly there was a more blatant explicitly stated "quid pro quo" that even the US system would frown upon, but in essence what Ian Greer did is what every US lobbyist does every day.

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Old 03-07-2019, 12:17 PM
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The U.S.A. now ranks below all other developed countries on that list except Spain, Italy, Portugal, Israel, South Korea, Taiwan and Eastern Europe. In 2015, the U.S.A. was ahead of Estonia, Ireland, Hongkong and Japan, but in three years has fallen behind all four of those.
I think that's really the story, not so much that we're Third World corrupt but that we're rapidly allowing corruption to creep into the highest levels of government. Worse, we seem to have a major political party that's encouraging the trend and is increasingly relying on corruption to win elections.
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Old 03-07-2019, 01:36 PM
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I don't follow Canadian politics - are the policies generally considered to be the will of the majority (within the Constitutional guidelines) or is there some other mechanism of corrupt influence?

I'm not sure I understand your question.
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Old 03-09-2019, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Canada at the federal level restricts political donations.

First, onlyn individuals can donate. Not corporations, not unions.

Second, there are annual limits how much each individual can donate. There are limits for donations to a political party, and also for donations to candidates.

Third, no secret donations. All donations must be publicly reported to Elections Canada, the non-partisan agency which runs federal elections.
Quebec pretty much follows federal law. And there is no systematic repression of voters.

I have never heard of lobbyists, although I am sure there is a "big boy's club" that spreads influence. Even scientific organizations have representatives that talk to MPs and express why govt. support of research is in the public interest (in addition to the obvious interest to the organizations).

The current flap of SNC-Lavalin illustrates this. My understanding of the situation is this: They bribed Lybian officials in order to get contracts there. That is illegal under Canadian law. They wanted to get a kind of plea bargain in which they would pay a fine, but avoid criminal prosecution. The latter, if successful would result in the company being shut out of the bidding for any govt. contract for 10 years. A penalty which is, they felt (and I tend to agree) all out of proportion to the crime. If that is what it takes to do business in Lybia, that's it takes. So there was tremendous pressure on the govt. to do something. But the justice minister was unmoved and eventually resigned (or was forced to resign) and told her story which the Conservatives are now making a Watergate out of.

In 2017, some lobbying organization told the Republicans to pass the cut or else no more funding. That sounds like out and out bribery to me.
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Old 03-09-2019, 02:31 PM
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The other point about the corruption index that jumped out at me is how the great majority of the top 20 least corrupt countries are all parliamentary systems. The only exceptions are Switzerland and Hong Kong, neither of which is a parliamentary system, but neither of them is a president/Congress system, either.
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Old 03-10-2019, 06:05 AM
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Originally Posted by griffin1977 View Post
As I understand it this "rank bribery" (aka Cash for Questions) would be totally above board and regular in the US system. A lobbyist handed out campaign contributions in direct exchange for legislative actions. Possibly there was a more blatant explicitly stated "quid pro quo" that even the US system would frown upon, but in essence what Ian Greer did is what every US lobbyist does every day.
The issue at stake was that the financial interest was not declared at the point of speaking on the topic in the House of Commons (or at all, given, IIRC, that there were supposedly cash donations in brown envelopes). In that particular case, the issue was the administrative application of laws as they affected a particular person rather than new legislation. It was so crude as to be almost self-exposing.

That legislation may be influenced by different people getting access by donation to fundraising (and/or by their general public image and social status) is as well-known here as anywhere else, but moderated by the legislative process itself (basically, it's controlled by ministers, with the practicalities of drafting and anticipating adverse consequences being filtered through the professional civil service).
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Old 03-10-2019, 09:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Northern Piper View Post
Canada at the federal level restricts political donations.

First, onlyn individuals can donate. Not corporations, not unions.

Second, there are annual limits how much each individual can donate. There are limits for donations to a political party, and also for donations to candidates.

Third, no secret donations. All donations must be publicly reported to Elections Canada, the non-partisan agency which runs federal elections.
But this isn't answer to the OP's question, which asked what influence donors have. Donations affect influence, but aren't the same thing. Indeed, they can be wildly disconnected; a minor donor could in some circumstances have huge influence, while big donors can have little to none.

Do big companies in Canada have influence despite the rules trying to prevent it? Hmmm. I wonder if there's anything in the news about that...
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Old 03-10-2019, 11:28 AM
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I'm not sure I understand your question.
I'll put it another way. You listed a number of laws through which Canada attempts to restrict influence of donor money on elections - do you believe those laws largely succeed or are they skirted via loopholes of some sort?
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Old 03-10-2019, 10:51 PM
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Personally, I would assume they're largely complied with, in part because the consequences for one's political career can be severe.

For example, during the Harper government, an MP named Del Mastro was charged with intentionally over-spending his personal campaign limits in what the Crown prosecutor termed a sophisticated scheme. At the time he was the Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, which is a clear stepping stone to Cabinet. His name had also been mentioned as a possible leadership candidate for the Ontario Progressive Conservative party. So, pretty well-connected guy, on his way up.

Elections Canada prosecuted him and he was convicted. He ended up in jail and his political career was done. He served one month in jail, four months of house arrest, and eighteen months probation. He also was barred from federal politics for five years.

His offence? He paid a supplier $21,000 for services to his campaign. Under federal law, a candidate could only contribute a maximum of $5,000 to his own campaign, so he over-contributed by $16,000, then apparently tried to cover it up by false financial returns to Elections Canada.

So, breach of campaign rules to the tune of $16,000, and you go to jail and your political career is done. Grim warning to any other candidate.

Here's a link to a wiki article on it. Needs a really good edit, but it's pretty thorough on the overall history.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dean_Del_Mastro
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:49 PM
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UK election campaigns are usually all over in a few weeks and the amounts spent are fairly modest. About 88m for the last one.

The Conservative party gets donations from businessmen and the Labour party is backed by donations from the Trade Unions (who helped found it). Donations over 7,500 have to be made public. Public money is also available to political parties and there are publicly funded political broadcasts for each party on TV at election time.

Westminster is full of political lobbyists pushing the interests of their clients, but politicians have to tread carefully lest they be accused of lacking in integrity. There are scandals from time to time and the pillorying of politicians is a national sport.

There is usually a lot of finger pointing from both sides about which party is in the pocket of which donor, but this is really small potatoes compared with the US system with its year long campaigns and billion dollar campaign budgets that have to be financed.
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Old 03-11-2019, 12:52 PM
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I will also point out that few other nations have the 1st Ad, which protects the right to donate to a cause and politicians.

Every right has issues.
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Old 03-11-2019, 07:59 PM
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I will also point out that few other nations have the 1st Ad, which protects the right to donate to a cause and politicians.

Every right has issues.
Lots of states have constitutional guarantees of freedom of speech, sometimes in very strong terms. It's not an inevitability in those countries - and it wasn't an inevitability in the US - that the constitutional guarantee would be interpreted so as to forbid lgal controls being placed on political donations.
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