Canada’s five major political parties are still able to rely on the telecom and communications sectors to help fund them. The most recent Political Party Financial Transactions Return just released by Elections Canada shows that telcos and other companies continue to be key contributors to the political process. The Liberals were once again the leaders in fundraising, bringing in $13.2 million in 2002 from individuals, companies and others. The Canadian Alliance raised $8.5 million, the New Democratic Party $5.25 million, the Progressive Conservatives $3.3 million and the Bloc Québécois $895,000. Donations were made to the parties directly, or as in-kind services, or through the purchase of tickets to fundraising dinners. Activity was more pronounced last year since the Tories and the New Democrats were both conducting leadership conventions. Repeating the system it used previously, BCE Inc. and its subsidiaries funded each party, save the NDP (NL, Aug. 27/02). BCE made separate donations of $21,305.50 and $5,989.10 to the Liberals, $10,000 to the Alliance, $25,000 to the Conservatives, and $5,000 to the BQ. Bell Canada provided $7,573.49 to the Grits, $5,705 to the Alliance, $13,217.43 to the Tories, and $5,000 to the Bloc. Bell Globemedia handed $13,692.70 to the Liberals and $4,396.90 to the PCs. Two of Globemedia’s properties also appear on the list, both donating to the Grits. The Globe and Mail gave $1,000, while Le Réseau des Sports (RDS) Inc. gave $861.10. BCE’s CLEC division, Bell West, donated $3,528.70 to the Liberals. Groupe CGI Inc., which is partly owned by BCE Ventures, made two donations to the BQ, worth $3,300 and $400. BCE’s eastern ILEC Aliant Inc. donated $6,849.80 to the Grits and $539.76 to the Tories. Aliant’s xwave subsidiary also gave $635.40 to the Conservatives. Telus Corp. gave to three of the five parties. The Liberals received $51,794.98 from Telus and a further $426.94 from Telus Communications (BC) Inc. (TCI). The Alliance reported a $3,449 donation from TCI and a $5,894 contribution from Telus Corp. Telus Corp. provided the Tories with $9,976.74. AT&T Canada (now Allstream Corp.) handed over $18,357.72 to the Liberals and a mere $576 to the Alliance. Fellow CLEC Call-Net Enterprises Inc. stuck with the Liberals. The company donated $9,889.75 to the party, while its Sprint Canada Inc. division gave $1,197.82. The Liberal Party also picked up contributions from Sogetel ($7,305.50), Nortel Networks Corp. ($5,660.72), Axia NetMedia Corp. ($1,058.61), and AOL Canada Inc. ($448.02). The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance donated $842.54 to the party. Alcatel gave $565 to the Alliance. Cable donates as wellOn the cable side, the Canadian Cable Television Association provided the Liberals with $5,106.35 and the Alliance with $2,823. The Rogers Group of Companies, a conglomerate containing many of the holdings of the communications giant, gave $39,910.45 to the Grits; $17,573.90 to the Tories; and $5,000 to the CA. In addition, Rogers Media Publishing donated $5,989.10 to the Liberals. Shaw Communications Inc. gave $1,448.02 to the Liberals, while Mountain Cablevision Ltd. gave the party $1,000. Cogeco Cable Inc. donated $231.02 to the Tories. The Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union of Canada was the only telecom union to appear on the Elections Canada list, with the vast majority of its support going to the NDP. The national headquarters gave $123,281 to the party, with the Ontario regional office providing $3,540, the Saskatchewan area council donating $400, and the CEP in Alberta giving $300. Six CEP locals each donated $400 to the New Democrats. The Quebec wing of the union gave $1,300 to the BQ, while local 2020, which represents film craftspeople, provided the Liberals with $1,707.76. Law firms that have telecom clients were not stingy when the party bagmen came knocking. Osler, Hoskin & Harcourt LLP gave to all parties except the BQ. It made a $24,296.99 donation to the Liberals, with another $3,528.70 attributed to "Olser, Hoskin and Harcourt" also going to the Grits. The law firm’s Toronto office gave the Alliance $10,000, with the Calgary bureau donating $2,891. The New Democrats received $10,500 from the legalists, while the Tories garnered $2,391.18. McCarthy Tétrault LLP gave $32,937.07 to the Liberals and $16,896.90 to the Conservatives. Many prominent names in the telecom arena made individual contributions, following up on donations made in previous years. The Liberals received $1,000 from former BCE boss Jean Monty, with executive VP Lawson Hunter giving a similar amount. Bell Canada’s VP federal government relations Linda Gervais contributed $1,000 to the Tories. Allstream’s Chris Peirce donated $3,720.21 to the Liberals while Call-Net’s Ian Scott handed over $1,000. Former Teleglobe honcho Charles Sirois gave the Grits $10,000, while his company, Gestion Charles Sirois, donated a more modest $545.26. Once again, CRTC commissioner Barbara Cram endorsed the Liberals. The Manitoba and Saskatchewan representative on the regulator donated $440, down from the $1,240 she gave last year. Most of the Conservatives’ high rollers have connections to the Rogers empire. Edward S. Rogers, president/CEO of his eponymous communications firm, contributed $26,000. Vice-chair Philip Lind gave the party $1,000, while former Rogers Cable Inc. CEO John H. Tory donated $774.88. Former Stentor chief Jocelyne Côté-O’Hara contributed $320.30. Changes to legislation Things should change drastically when the results of fundraising are released next year. Legislation just passed by Parliament restricts corporate donations to $1,000 while individuals have their limit capped at $5,000. In addition, the Office of the Ethics Counsellor is releasing donations to the leadership campaign of the federal Liberal party. Many of the contributions to Paul Martin, John Manley and Sheila Copps come from law firms, with few telecom connections noted in the list. The Rogers Group of Companies did give Martin $1,000, while Allstream vice-chair/CEO John T. McLennan donated $25,000 to Manley. The finance minister had to return donations from BCE and Telus on the advice of Ethics counsellor Howard Wilson. More names will be released after the Liberal leadership convention this fall.