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Most think of big corporations and rich individuals as the major financial influencers behind elections, but the actual third party election spending at least form third parties appears to heavily favour labour unions.
Currently, the largest corporate player is Canada Proud, a conservative nonprofit third-party, who has so far this election taken in $250,000 from donors in the last six months.
The Merit Contractors Association has also spent around $45,000 supporting conservative candidates in Alberta and Ontario.
Despite this high amount of spending from Conservative-leaning third-parties, unions have easily dwarfed their competitors in the arena.
Unifor spent $900,000 in the period between June 30 and when the election started, just short of their $1,023,400 political spending limit.
Now that the campaign has started, Unifor has already spent another $366,000, and quickly plans to hit its campaign period limit of $511,700.
Unifor president Jerry Dias said that he does support curbing the influence of money in politics, and sees current high levels of union money as only balancing out the current political spending.
“If we’re going to talk about a puritan system where the media and everybody else is hands off and there’s no interference, that’s one thing, but that’s not the system we live in,” Dias said when interviewed.
Unifor is by no means alone in their spending. The United Steelworkers have spent $736,000 promoting NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, who is currently prominently featured on the union’s website home page.
The Canadian Labour Congress has put out ads through the group Fairness Works, to the tune of $278,000, promoting progressive political issues and endorsing political candidates, all of whom are New Democrats, much like the Candian Union of Public Employees who spent $51,000 before the campaign period.