In today’s Globe and Mail, reporter Daniel Leblanc describes a letter that was sent from Liberal leadership contender Joe Volpe to Senator Dan Hays, the Opposition Leader in the Senate.
“In the course of the debate, we established in Canada a sense that the spirit of the law is that no one under the age of 18 would make a political contribution. I lived to that standard by giving the money back … I ask you to move the following amendment: ‘All persons under the age of 18 are prohibited from making financial contributions to leadership and political campaigns.” — Joe Volpe
So, Joe Volpe wants the Federal Accountability Act to be amended to include a ban on donations from minors?
According to government MP Pierre Poilievre, donations from people under 18 need not necessarily be banned, it is the laundering of money through the names of parent’s children to circumvent the Elections Act which is illegal and it is this very illegality that tripped up Mr. Volpe despite his laughable attempt to explain away his dubious fundraising,
“Apparently these kids just connected with me; they loved what I did … When they heard I was running for the leadership, they said ‘What can we do?'” — Joe Volpe on accepting $27,000 in donations from 11 year old twins and three other minors
It would be difficult to find anyone that thinks that Volpe honestly believed in what he was saying and that the $27,000 donations weren’t a circumvention of the maximum allowable amount stipulated by Elections Canada for the children’s parents. Similarly, a company cannot give $5400 to each employee on the condition that the employees make a donation to the candidate or party of their choice.
Jonathan Denis, a Calgary-based lawyer that specializes in eletoral law agrees and helps by explaining the current law,
“The Canada Elections Act does not prohibit donations from people under 18. However, contributions from minors to Joe Volpe’s leadership campaign are definitely cause for suspicion: does anyone really believe an 11-year-old has $5,400.00 to contribute?”
So what about Volpe’s new found desire for showing everyone that he’s turned over a new leaf and that he desires a change to the legislation to bar donations from people under the age of 18?
Not only was Volpe indifferent to donations by minors until he was caught, his letter to the Senate asking for amendments seems to represent more talk than action.
Volpe did not present any amendments to the Federal Accountability Act when it was before the House of Commons. He did not even speak on the legislation.
In fact, ever since the scandal of the donations broke, he hasn’t appeared in the House or voted on any motion. If he was really concerned about making changes to the legislation, he’d put his money where his mouth is (sorry) and show up in the legislative chamber in which the Canadian taxpayer pays Volpe a salary to sit and participate.
If Volpe is so concerned about making donations from minors illegal, how come he didn’t use his status as a Member of Parliament to make an amendment to the Accountability Act himself?