Thursday , October 21 2021

Political contributions have corrupted the system and they need to stop.


"That's how you play the game."

We spent two years in our new business and wondered what needed to be done to try to get government work, so we asked a 30-year-old construction veteran.

It was suggested that we attend a fund-raising dinner for the premier. Tickets cost $ 500 each – lots of money, I thought.

"Yes," he said, "but it will be noticed if you are not there."

So we went.

In the event we sat for a chicken breast dinner stuffed in the Delta – the most expensive meal I've ever eaten.

After dinner, we tried to get the attention of a cabinet minister.

"Minister, this is Terry. He has a new business." A nod from the minister. "Nice to meet you, thanks for coming," and then once to squeeze the next hand.

I was shocked. Is that why I paid $ 1,000 per?

Just the tip of the iceberg

I later realized that my experience was the tip of the iceberg for corporate political donations. If you really want to impress, you will receive a private fundraiser at your home and invite rich colleagues.

"But I do not have friends or money either," I told my older colleague.

"You will one day, and then it will be your turn," came the answer.

Hussey says corporate and union donations to political campaigns should be banned. (John Gushue / CBC)

That was in 2014, before my company received awards for excellence in business, before being recognized as a business leader in Canada.

It was also before I really understood who I was, what I believed in business and in our province, and how things should be done.

The problem nobody wants to talk about

When we say goodbye to 2018 and look at 2019, everyone in Newfoundland and Labrador understands that things are not optimal. The cat is out of the bag. However, all we hear are the same empty words and half truths that no longer satisfy.

I believe that the greatest threat to the future of Newfoundland and Labrador is not the Muskrat Fall, our cyclical economy, the struggles of rural areas or our debt; It's none of those things.

There is a rot in the heart of our democracy that has affected our society to the point of near extinction as a people and nobody wants to talk about it.

Nobody wants to change or light up this dark corner because what we will find is the ugly truth of business and politics: giving the right money to the right people and you will get paid.

I'm talking about corporate and union donations and how they poisoned our society, handcuffed elected leaders, stifled innovation, encouraged unethical behavior, and killed hope and optimism for the future.

Time to put a cap on things.

Newfoundland and Labrador remain one of the last provinces in Canada to allow unlimited donations to politicians.

Donations made by for-profit companies (and unions) with the intention of promoting their business interests or agenda with the governments of the day. With local elections being "Red: Blue: Red," it has become simple for groups to deposit money on the winning side to ensure they maintain access to high-level government decision-makers.

By forcing them to get this money from companies and interest groups, we handcuff political leaders to this archaic and rotten system of favors, influence, and patronage that pulsates beneath the surface of everything the government does.

What is the big problem with this access? I believe that such access is intended to increase revenues and profits for these companies or to promote trade union agendas.

A company that makes a $ 10,000 donation in an election guarantees unlimited access to the prime minister and cabinet in office. They can influence how the government spends and how the laws and regulations are defined. Can you send messages to a minister and get an answer?

Some in our province can, and – depending on how they got that unique number – is not right.

Donating money should not provide access to decision makers or wherever such decisions are made, such as the West Block of Confederation Building in St. John's. (CBC)

Elections are expensive, costing more than $ 1.5 million for a provincial campaign.

But the provincial government spends $ 8 billion one year.

The $ 1.5 million that politicians depend on businesses and unions to donate is a small fraction of government spending each year.

By forcing them to get this money from companies and interest groups, we handcuff political leaders to this archaic and rotten system of favors, influence, and patronage that pulsates beneath the surface of everything the government does.

Our leaders are handcuffed to an archaic system

Even when a government does something progressive like the new buying act, special interest groups use their influence to allow single source contracts below $ 100,000.

One step ahead, 10 back.

We are facing an existential crisis as a society that we can not avoid if the very foundation of our democracy is corrupt.

Our leaders can not lead while they are handcuffed to this system, because the donors who have elected them will throw their money to the other side, maintaining that insanity. The benefactors of this system care little about the struggles of Newfoundland and Labrador families being squeezed each year.

They do not care about increased debt, the death of rural communities or the shrinking of opportunities for ordinary people.

They are isolated by wealth and power and will continue to abuse this system, as long as we leave them.

A pot of gold at the end of this rainbow is OK, but not from corporate and union donations, says Hussey. (Posted by Kim Plowman)

The change can not happen until people realize that this problem is similar to trying to move forward with the handbrake. How can we trust anything a government does if it owes donors debts?

Was this contract awarded fairly or was it because they donated the right money through a numbered company? Has this person hired the best person for the job? Has that regulation been amended to benefit the company or a special interest group?

The only way to be sure is to completely remove this influence by banishing corporate and union donations.

Once done, we can begin to advance our province.

Read more about CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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