October 31, 2016 5:29 pm

Ontario’s chief electoral officer raises concerns about proposed MPP fundraiser ban

File photo of the Ontario legislature.

Jessica Smith Cross

TORONTO – Ontario’s chief electoral officer is raising concerns about the Liberal government’s proposed ban on politicians attending fundraisers.

Greg Essensa said his office was not consulted on the government’s proposed rules before they were publicly announced last week, but it’s clear they will require a “significant amount of work” to administer.

And he hasn’t found any other jurisdictions whose examples he could follow.

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READ MORE: Ontario Liberals scrap proposed ban on political staff attending fundraisers

“We have done a search and we are not aware of any other campaign finance regulator in North America having to administrate rules like these,” Essensa told a legislative committee considering an electoral reform bill.

The legislation was introduced amid criticism over fundraising events that saw cabinet ministers attend private, high-priced functions with stakeholders.

The bill would ban corporate and union donations, but under new Liberal amendments, any members of provincial parliament, party leaders, nomination contestants, candidates and leadership contestants would not be able to attend fundraisers.

READ MORE: Ontario government one step closer to banning politicians from fundraising

That appears to be unique in North America, Essensa said, so his office will now expand its search to other Commonwealth countries for guidance.

“I have concerns about how these provisions will be administered,” he said.

Essensa also told the committee that the bill puts “onerous” regulations on people looking to get into politics by seeking party nominations.

READ MORE: Ontario MPP fundraising ban to include candidates, nomination contestants

“If someone decides that they wish to be a nominee in a particular riding across the province and they do just the simple act of getting a domain name…the sheer act of doing that now creates a burden on them that is fairly substantive,” Essensa said.

“They need to have a CFO, they need to have an auditor, they have to register with my office immediately, they have financial filing requirements that they must adhere to – whether or not they do anything else past just registering that website name. I think that’s a high standard, to be perfectly honest.”

© 2016 The Canadian Press

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