According to Elections Canada documents, which are publicly available here, the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA) has given $45,600 to the Ontario Liberal Party since 2008.
What’s shocking is not that a public sector union is giving donations to a political party—that is the status quo in North America, and has been for quite some time. What is shocking is how callous and calculating the Ontario Provincial Police Association has been when giving out these donations. They haven’t yet given their annual donations, because they gave the Liberals a better present this year.
This week, the OPPA announced two attack ads targeting Progressive-Conservative leader Tim Hudak, and maintained that “these ads do not serve as an endorsement for the Liberals or the NDP.” Maybe not, but tens of thousands of dollars in donations serve as a fairly ringing endorsement of the Liberals. Don’t worry, the Ontario Provincial Police “does not, in any way, support this OPPA campaign,” because that is the purpose of legal intermediaries like the union they pay to represent them.
It can be argued that the OPPA’s only goal is to increase its own power, funding, and stature, namely through increased pay and benefits for the Ontario Provincial Police. It then makes sense for the OPPA to use the mandatory dues they collect from police officers to bankroll whichever candidate promises them the shiniest toys.
Fact is, dollars from the salaries of police officers are going to these heavily partisan activities, and it’s paying off. In 2011, OPP officers got a 5% salary increase, then a two year freeze, and this year they are seeing an increase of 8.55%. An OPP constable making $83,085 in 2010 will be making $94,702 after this year’s increase. That’s a nice four year bump in times of austerity and pay freezes (and yes, that’s actually what a constable will now be making).
The bad news is that the pay increases mean that small towns who use the OPP for policing will struggle to pay, and Norfolk is thinking of cutting staff to cover the cost of the higher wages. The good news is that we know that the Ontario Liberals will keep these particular promises and reward those loyal to them. So of course the OPPA President describes a Liberal re-election as “the best case scenario.”
I phoned the OPPA on June 4th and asked if members of the public would be able to access or learn any information about the OPPA’s annual operating budget or funding sources. An official at the OPPA told me that such information is not available, and when asked for a comment said, “I’m not inclined to tell you anything.”
It is good to know that the Ontario Provincial Police’s main liaison between themselves and the government is both transparent and non-partisan. I believe that the negotiations between civil servants and the government should be publicly available, especially with the police. No confidential information is given out, and the public has a right to know how the salaries of public servants are determined.
I”m sure there’s nothing to hide, right?
Update (5/06/2014): The OPPA also donated $15,660 to the Ontario Provincial Conservative party in the same six year span (2008-2014), though they have not made any donations since 2011. In 2011, including donations to the party as well as direct campaign contributions (not included in other figures on this page), the OPPA gave the PCs $13,640, and the OLP $13,900.
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