New Liberal Leader Dwight Ball is making transparency and accountability the central theme of his political identity — but he won’t commit to releasing the names of the people who donated to his leadership campaign.
© — Photo by James McLeod/The Telegram
Liberal Leader Dwight Ball is making transparency a central theme of the Liberals’ political message.
Ball said that during the Liberal leadership race, he raised somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000. His campaign workers are still doing the paperwork, so they don’t know exactly how much.
“I can’t even tell you who donated to this campaign,” he said. “Let us get the information first, to see, No. 1, how much we collected, because I don’t know.”
But it’s not clear whether the public will find out who wrote Ball a cheque. Under the Liberal leadership rules, there were no limits on who candidates could take money from or how much they could accept, and if candidates want to keep their donors list secret, they’re free to do so.
Ball said he knows who his biggest campaign contributor is, though: Dwight Ball.
“I’ve personally supported the majority of this campaign,” he said.
As for everyone else, Ball said he’s promising to release the dollar figures of each donation he received. If people want to know who gave a big donation, well, then Ball said he’ll have to go back to that donor and make sure it’s OK before they publicly release anything.
And if that donor says “no,” Ball said he’ll figure that out when it comes up.
“I don’t know because I haven’t asked the donors yet about making this public. No one has said no to me yet. No one has said yes to me,” he said.
The province’s elections law stipulates that donations of more than $100 made to political parties must be publicly reported; the same goes for candidates during elections.
However, the elections law doesn’t cover party leadership races, so candidates can take as much money as they can raise, and they don’t have to disclose any of it.
During his first full day on the job, Ball made openness a central theme. In the House of Assembly, his first question of the day dealt with access to information.
“Last year, this government passed the most secretive bill that this House has ever seen. Bill 29 has given this government and cabinet sweeping powers to hide information from the public,” Ball said in the House. “So I ask the premier: will you repeal Bill 29, and initiate a process of public consultation sessions on how our new protection of privacy laws should look?”
Premier Kathy Dunderdale argued that the province’s access to information laws are more open and transparent than most other provinces in the country.
“This government is highly committed to openness and transparency,” Dunderdale said. “That is why one of the first things we did when we came to government was proclaim the (access to information) act. Mr. Speaker, it was a piece of legislation introduced in the House by the Liberals, but never proclaimed.”
Ball also made public disclosure of information one of the themes in his Liberal leadership acceptance speech Sunday evening.
“People want democracy restored,” he said. “They want honesty, accountability, integrity. They want that brought back to government,”