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Backbench Grits want "transparency" in leadership campaign financing

OTTAWA - (Web posted Feb. 19, 2002 @ 4:25 p.m.) As federal Liberals squabble about membership rules, the idea that future leadership hopefuls should disclose the names of their financial supporters may be the next contentious issue the party will face.

Liberal MP Joe VolpeIn Canada, regulations that guide political party leadership campaigns are established by the parties themselves.

The Liberals officially view leadership campaign financing as a internal policy matter, but some Liberals support the notion of openness.

"My basic principle is yah declare them (a candidate's financial supporters)," said Joe Volpe, Liberal member of Parliament for Eglinton-Lawrence, during an interview with PoliticsWatch.com

" Who's afraid of telling people where you get you're money?"

The issue received some prominent exposure late last year when Canada's Chief Electoral Officer Jean Pierre Kingsley said Liberals, who want to be the party's next leader, should disclose the names of their financial donors to the public.

Volpe added, however, it is an idea the party should study before any changes are implemented.

Dr. Carolyn Bennett, Liberal member of Parliament for St. Paul'sDr. Carolyn Bennett, Liberal member of Parliament for St. Paul's, also supports openness in Liberal leadership campaign financing.

When asked if Liberal leadership hopeful Paul Martin should supply a list of his financial backers Dr. Bennett broadened her response to include all potential candidates.

"I think everybody should know, if you're the Minister of Health or if you're the Minister of Heritage...we should know who's contributing to the leadership campaign," Dr. Bennett said.

"I just think it is just about transparency and accountability, and I think it becomes one important antidote to the cynicism and apathy that we're starting to see. "

Volpe agreed.

"Bring them in line with what we all would like to see, and that is that there is always transparency," he said.

Some Liberals, however, see the issue of campaign financing as an internal party matter, that does not require Kingsley's input.

Still, Dr. Bennett maintains releasing campaign finance information publicly could improve the reputation and perception of politicians among Canadians.

"It's just important that government and politicians be trusted," Dr. Bennett said. "We're going to erode democracy if we don't try to turn this around in terms of voter turnout...we've got to be able to put a much better face on government."

Stan Keyes, chairman of the Liberal party caucus, and Ontario MP Albina Guarnieri, were also asked to comment on campaign financing but they declined.

Read this related story from PoliticsWatch
arrow-trans.gif (111 bytes) Does the public have a right to know?: A  PoliticsWatch exclusive ministerial poll on disclosure rules for Liberal leadership campaign financing

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