Friday, April 29, 2011

NDP Accepts Contributions From US Unions

Honesty? Integrity? Ethics? Accountability? Transparency? Yeah, right!
OTTAWA - A U.S.-based union's financial contributions to the New Democrats in Canada have raised some questions for the party's federal branch.

The United Steelworkers of America's headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., filed paperwork with the U.S. Department of Labor that shows tens of thousands of dollars sent to the NDP in Ottawa between 2007 and 2010.

Records show the American union sent $5,000 last year, more than $39,000 in 2009, $8,500 in 2008, and in excess of $17,000 in 2007 to the New Democratic Party of Canada or the New Democrats of Canada.

While union contributions to provincial political parties are legal, they were banned along with corporate donations at the federal level in 2007.
Not to mention that this was a US union. What do you think would happen if the Conservatives were caught receiving donations from a US-based lobbyist organization? (Let alone - from one that arm-twists people into being its members?) Heck, rumors alone were enough to accuse Harper of receiving illegal campaign contributions. Remember that incident with Elections Canada raiding a Conservative party office and seizing computers? I wouldn't be surprised if even now there are still those accusing Harper of not providing a complete list of those who contributed to his leadership campaign 8 years ago.

But what typically means a long-lasting scandal (if not worse) for the Conservatives, is apparently a-ok for the NDP:
Steelworkers and NDP officials tell QMI Agency there's nothing wrong with the union's contributions.

They insist the paperwork filed in the U.S. simply isn't labelled properly and that in all but one case union money actually went to provincial NDP associations.

Officials say the only exception was in 2009 when most of the money was actually to cover the USW's sponsorship of the federal NDP's Halifax convention.
What's that? Did they say there's nothing wrong with a US union sponsoring a Canadian political party?! That's not just wrong, that's illegal, darn it! Oh, sure, it was the provincial NDP where all the money went; the federal party didn't receive anything, well, maybe just once, that doesn't count, does it? By the way, since when the provincial laws actually allow political contributions from foreign entities, be that unions, corporations, individuals or lobby groups?

Also, since when the federal NDP and their provincial branches actually happen to be separate entities? Sure, they may be registered as such, but they operate as two parts of the same whole; you can't be a member of one and not of the other, because their membership is handled through the provincial wings of the party. An argument that "all the money went to the provincial party" is therefore nothing but a bookkeeping trick. It may be enough to satisfy an auditor, but the very fact that what's now the leading party of the left has to resort to such bookkeeping tricks to shelter unlawful political contributions is indeed disturbing.

The NDP tries to portray itself as a political party that is determined to bring integrity, accountability and transparency to the House of Commons. Now it looks like they owe their reputation of being "scandal-free" to a mere lack of opportunities.

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