The Ontario Liberal government is tabling legislation this afternoon to create 15 new ridings that would be up for grabs in the provincial election in 2018. The government is also planning to switch the fixed date of the provincial election from the fall to the spring and to “strengthen the rules” surrounding election campaign advertising by third-party special-interest groups such as unions. The proposed new ridings would match constituency boundary changes recently made at the federal level. Most of the new seats are in the Greater Toronto Area. The bill, if passed, would bring the number of seats at the Ontario Legislature to 122. It currently stands at 107.
During a news conference at Queen’s Park on Tuesday, Premier Kathleen Wynne made no commitment about precisely how the election advertising rules will be strengthened. Third-party advertising has more than tripled since the 2007 election to $8.7 million in 2014.
“We’re going to look at this as a blank slate and figure out what needs to be done,” Wynne said. “We haven’t made any decision but I think it’s something that needs to be studied.”
But she all but rejected the idea of imposing caps on political donations by unions and corporations. “I believe that individuals and organizations should have the ability to take part in the democratic process,” Wynne said. “We need to look at the role that third parties play and third party advertising is an important part of that discussion.”