Abbott joins call for ban on political donations from unions and corporations

Former PM says ‘we need to look long and hard at donations to real people on the electoral roll’

Tony Abbott says there should be ‘near-to-real-time’ disclosure of political donations to ensure full transparency and prevent ‘influence buying’.
Photograph: Rashida Yosufzai/AAP

Tony Abbott has joined Malcolm Turnbull and a growing chorus of Liberals calling for only individuals to be allowed to donate to political parties, in effect banning union, foreign and corporate donations.
Labor backs a ban on foreign donations but opposes a ban on union and corporate donations which shadow attorney general, Mark Dreyfus, has warned the high court has already found is unconstitutional.
The Coalition is now seeking to widen the reform conversation to include spending on political campaigns by third-party entities, including unions and GetUp.
According to a Fairfax media report, Abbott has said: “We need to look long and hard at restricting donations to real …
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Peter Dutton defends refugee lag, saying Australia's security checks better than Canada

Immigration minister says Canada has ‘very different approach’ to security when asked why it was able to settle 30,000 refugees compared to Australia’s 3,500

An Iraqi refugee family in their house on the Greek island of Lesbos. In 2015 then Australian prime minister Tony Abbott pledged to take in 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Photograph: Louisa Gouliamaki/AFP/Getty Images

Peter Dutton has excused his department’s slow processing of Syrian and Iraqi refugees, suggesting other faster countries were not taking the same security precautions.
Australia has been criticised for only settling 3,532 people after former prime minister Tony Abbott pledged one year ago to take in 12,000 Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
World Vision, Oxfam, Save the Children, Plan International, Care and Amnesty International labelled the delay “incomprehensible” and called for the full 12,000 to be settled by March next year.
However the immigration minister said on Friday he could not commit to a firm deadline, …
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Fiat Chrysler Canada head at centre of U.S. fraud investigation

This should’ve been Reid Bigland’s year.Under his leadership, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles outsold its competitors in Canada for the first time in the auto maker’s history while enjoying an unprecedented streak of rising sales in the United States. The success earned Mr. Bigland a promotion to head Fiat Chrysler’s Alfa Romeo and Maserati brands, making him one of chairman Sergio Marchionne’s most trusted deputies.

Now, Mr. Bigland, the 49-year-old head of U.S. sales and chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Canada, is at the centre of U.S. criminal and regulatory investigations into whether the company fraudulently hyped its monthly sales numbers, according to people familiar with the matter. The probe has implications that may go far beyond Fiat Chrysler, potentially upending the U.S. auto industry’s way of reporting sales, long designed to showcase them in the most positive light possible.For …
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SNC-Lavalin Made Illegal Canada Election Contributions: Watchdog

(Bloomberg) — SNC-Lavalin Group Inc. made illegal political donations in Canada over seven years, the country’s elections watchdog said.SNC-Lavalin employees and, in some cases, their spouses contributed C$117,803 ($91,270) to political parties between 2004 and 2011 and were reimbursed by the company, the Commissioner of Canada Elections said Thursday in a statement and so-called compliance agreement. The bulk of the money went to the Liberal Party now led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.The plan was “done with the approval of certain senior executives” who are no longer with the Montreal-based engineering and construction firm, the watchdog said. Corporate political donations are illegal at the federal level in Canada.Of the sum, C$109,616 went to the Liberal Party, its electoral district associations or leadership candidates, the elections commissioner reported. The Liberals governed until 2006 before taking power again last year. The remaining sum of roughly C$8,188 went to the Conservative Party, which …
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SNC-Lavalin violated federal Elections Act…

Sep 8, 2016, Last Updated: 5:59 PM ET

OTTAWA — Montreal-based global engineering giant SNC-Lavalin continues to dig out from a series of corporate governance scandals, this time involving improper donations to federal political parties over a seven-year period ending in 2011.
A compliance agreement with the federal elections commissioner, announced Thursday, details almost $118,000 in donations to the Liberal and Conservative parties through company employees or their spouses who were then reimbursed by SNC-Lavalin.
This illegal practice for skirting corporate donation limits was identified by a Quebec anti-corruption inquiry as a widespread problem in municipal and Quebec provincial politics, although the provincial Charbonneau Commission’s mandate prevented it from following federal political threads.
Not so federal Elections Commissioner Yves Cote, whose office says it continues to pursue the matter.
“The compliance agreement that was made public today is part of that investigation, but the investigation continues,” said spokeswoman Michelle Laliberte. “ …
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Political battle shaping up over Liberal government’s peacekeeping plan

By Lee Berthiaume, The Canadian Press on September 8, 2016.
Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan speaks during the UN Peacekeeping Defence Ministerial meeting at Lancaster House, in London on Thursday Sept. 8, 2016. Sajjan says Canada will host a peacekeeping summit next year, even as Conservative MPs accuse the government of playing politics with Canadian troops. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-PA, Stefan RousseauOTTAWA – Battle lines are being drawn between Liberals and Conservatives as the government prepares to deploy hundreds of Canadian troops to an as-yet-unannounced United Nations peacekeeping mission in Africa.
The pending clash, which is breaking along ideological lines, was previewed Thursday and is expected to figure prominently when the House of Commons returns from its summer break later this month.
At a peacekeeping summit in London, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan affirmed the government’s plan to make up to 600 soldiers and 150 police officers available for peace operations. The government will also spend $450 …
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Canadians open to quotas to boost indigenous representation in government

The majority of Canadians are open to designating seats for the country’s indigenous people to boost their representation in Parliament and on the Supreme Court.A recent survey by Environics Institute and the Institute on Governance found that two-thirds of Canadians are open to improving the representation of indigenous people in federal institutions.They are divided, however, when it comes to how that representation would be achieved.When asked about hypothetically designating a specific number of seats for indigenous representatives in the House of Commons, Senate or Supreme Court, one-third backed the idea; one-third opposed, and one-third said it “depends” on how it was done or were unsure.Maryantonett Flumian, president of the Institute on Governance (IOG) , said the nearly 30 per cent who said they could support quotas depending on how they are handled suggests an “openness” among Canadians and a significant shift in attitude.“We don’t have …
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Support grows for joining Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank: ‘Clearly in Canada’s best interests’

OTTAWA — From all the recent rhetoric, you would think Canada could soon be on the losing end of free-trade deals with its European and Asia-Pacific partners.
But Canada’s decision this week to join a relatively new global organization, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank — one based on funding projects in the world’s developing nations — could add a new narrative to the current tone of politics and protectionism that has played a large part in slowing progress in the implementation of long-sought and hotly debated international deals.
Momentum for the Trans-Pacific Partnership has slowed amid a divisive U.S. election campaign that is rattling confidence in global commerce with all the talk about tearing up trade pacts and “building walls,” rather than eliminating barriers. Meanwhile, the U.K.’s decision to leave the European Union has created trade concerns in Europe.
But moving against that tide of tighter trade rules, …
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Forest Lawn MP Obhrai, running for Conservative leader, says diversity crucial for Canada

As he pursues the leadership of the federal Conservatives, veteran Calgary MP Deepak Obhrai says he’s worried about anti-immigrant sentiment potentially growing within both Canada and the party.
Obhrai filed his papers this week to officially become a leadership candidate, just as the Tory party has been gripped by a debate over fellow candidate Kellie Leitch’s suggestion immigrants and refugees could be screened for anti-Canadian values.
In an interview Thursday, the Calgary Forest Lawn MP said he fears the party is repeating the mistakes of the 2015 election, when issues such as a proposed “barbaric cultural practices” tip line — championed by Leitch — depicted the party as an unwelcoming place for minorities.  
“I am very much concerned,” said Obhrai, who was born in Tanzania and also lived in India and the United Kingdom before immigrating to Canada in the 1970s. 
“This is again a negative message going out.”
Obhrai said …
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No Investigation into Duffy’s Allegations of Election Fraud

Protests followed misleading robocalls in 2011 election; Senator Mike Duffy alleged similar calls in BC in 2008. Despite Senator Mike Duffy’s testimony that Conservative operatives were behind misleading election eve phone calls in British Columbia in 2008, the Commissioner of Canada Elections has refused to reopen the investigation into the case.

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Commissioner Yves Côté said “technological obstacles” and legal constraints prevent his office from reopening the case.
Côté was responding to a request from Saanich-Gulf Islands MP and Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who wanted the case reopened based on Duffy’s 2015 testimony that “black ops group at Conservative headquarters” were behind the calls.
“They used robocalls to misdirect NDP voters, to split the vote and allow Gary Lunn to win,” Duffy testified. He said Lunn didn’t know about the effort.

Côté wrote that the commissioner’s office, which …
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