Unions and companies will no longer be allowed to donate money to political parties in Nova Scotia under an NDP bill announced yesterday.
The bill — which will allow only individuals will be allowed to donate up to $5,000 — will lighten the pocketbooks of all three parties, but the Liberals will be hurt most of all.
Under the new law, parties will not be able to use money from “held assets,” which some see as a not-so-subtle way to cut off the Liberal’s $2.3-million segregated asset fund, which the party has leaned on to help finance their operations for decades.
The fund has long been controversial because it was tied to illegal fundraising in the 1970s, however the Liberals say they purged the fund of dirty money in the early 1990s.
Justice Minister Ross Landry said the Liberals will have to find some other use for the money now.
“They could choose to give it to charity,” Landry suggested to the media. “That would be the noble thing to do.”
Landry said the new legislation will level the playing field, adding because only individuals can cast votes, it’s fair to only allow individuals to make donations.
The Tories have their own separate fund, but they still support leveling the playing field. Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil was more critical, saying the NDP are “trying to cripple both opposition parties.”
“This is clearly a political move by the New Democratic Party. I’m really disappointed, quite frankly, that the Chief Electoral Officer’s advice on third-party advertising wasn’t part of this reform,” McNeil said.
The issue of third-party advertising popped up during the election campaign when union pamphlets were sent out containing endorsements for the NDP platform.
The cutoff on union and corporate donations is Jan. 1, giving groups two months to give any last gifts of money.