U.S. union contributed to NDP
OTTAWA - A U.S.-based union's financial contributions to the New Democrats in Canada have raised some questions for the party's federal branch.
The United Steelworkers of America's headquarters in Pittsburgh, Pa., filed paperwork with the U.S. Department of Labor that shows tens of thousands of dollars sent to the NDP in Ottawa between 2007 and 2010.
Records show the American union sent $5,000 last year, more than $39,000 in 2009, $8,500 in 2008, and in excess of $17,000 in 2007 to the New Democratic Party of Canada or the New Democrats of Canada.
While union contributions to provincial political parties are legal, they were banned along with corporate donations at the federal level in 2007.
The Canada Elections Act sets out penalties of a $1,000 fine, three months in prison, or both for a political party's chief agent who fails to return an ineligible donation.
Steelworkers and NDP officials tell QMI Agency there's nothing wrong with the union's contributions.
They insist the paperwork filed in the U.S. simply isn't labelled properly and that in all but one case union money actually went to provincial NDP associations.
Officials say the only exception was in 2009 when most of the money was actually to cover the USW's sponsorship of the federal NDP's Halifax convention.
"Somebody decided to lump some of the payments together based on the belief that there was no additional material information necessary to the U.S. Department of Labor to provide the details of which province it came from," said Ken Delaney with the USW in Toronto.
Delaney also provided QMI Agency with an accounting schedule outlining which provincial party received what.
As for the optics of an American union getting involved in Canadian politics, he explained that the union collects dues in Canada, so it funds Canadian provincial political parties.