Parties agree to release campaign donor lists
Last Updated: Thursday, June 4, 2009 | 5:01 PM ET
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil got a jump on his political foes Thursday in the race to release information about campaign donations before election day.
McNeil delivered a list to a CBC News reporter Thursday afternoon, hours after Progressive Conservative Leader Rodney MacDonald said he would name his party donors and challenged the NDP and Liberals to do the same.
The Tories are trying to force the NDP to release details in light of a questionable donation by a union group. The New Democrats returned $45,000 earlier this week, and Elections Nova Scotia is investigating.
MacDonald said voters deserve to know who else has given money to the NDP.
"There's a lot of information we don't have. And what I believe is important for all of us to do is to clear the air. Nova Scotians deserve no less … before they make a choice," said MacDonald.
"If you're going to be in government you have to be open, you have to be accountable, and you have to be willing to be transparent."
MacDonald plans to release his list on Friday. At first, he said he would only make public the donations received since the start of the campaign on May 5. The Tories have since decided to release all donations since January.
"We're talking and speaking about the election," MacDonald said when asked about this change. "We're speaking about the donations made during this time."
The Liberals say they've received $151,392 in donations since the beginning of the year.
According to their list, about $45,000 is from unnamed individuals and $14,000 from unnamed firms and partnerships. The rest is from companies. Only Labatt Brewing and Oxford Frozen Foods gave $5,000, the maximum allowed under the Elections Act.
McNeil said names of individual donors were withheld for privacy reasons.
But he said it was important to release numbers given questions surrounding union donations to the NDP.
"The fact that $50,000 was divvied up 10 different ways, in 10 separate cheques to try to circumvent the law," he said. "We wanted to give Nova Scotians the comfort that that wasn't taking place with us."
On Monday, the NDP returned $45,000 in donations.
Nine construction union locals each gave the party $5,000. The parent union, the Mainland Nova Scotia Building and Construction Trades Council, which also gave $5,000, had promised to reimburse each local, in effect bankrolling the entire donation.
That sort of arrangement is not allowed by Elections Nova Scotia.
NDP Leader Darrell Dexter is promising to release his donor list before voters head to the polls on Tuesday.
"Apparently, the other parties are going to do the same thing and if they're willing to release their contribution list and the amounts then we'll do as well," he said earlier Thursday.
Campaign donation lists are normally released after an election.