On the final Friday of Ontario's election campaign, the platforms of all four major parties received dismal grades from a democracy watchdog.

The group's Report Card on the 2007 Good Government Ontario Political Party Election Platforms has the Green Party, New Democrats and Conservatives all tied with Ds, with the Liberals bringing up the rear with an overall F+.

Democracy Watch looked at the platforms of all the main parties, grading their election promises based on 14 sets of changes the group believes will require government and corporations to act "honestly, ethically, openly, efficiently, representatively and, if they don't act in these democratic ways, easily and thoroughly held accountable," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch, during a news conference Friday.

The 14 sets of changes total 85 actions the group wants to see the parties embrace. Conacher said they all reflect the following priorities to ensure government and large corporations act responsibly and follow rules:

  • Strong laws with no loopholes;
  • Requirement to disclose details of operations and violations;
  • Fully independent and empowered watchdog agencies to enforce laws;
  • Stiff penalties;
  • And empowerment of citizens to hold governments, corporations and watchdog agencies accountable.

But according to their current campaign platforms, none of the parties plan to go far enough to tighten accountability, the scathing report card finds.

"None of the main Ontario parties are pledging to make key, systemic changes to require honesty in politics, to end patronage appointments, to strengthen ethics rules and enforcement, to end secret lobbying and increase openness overall, nor to empower citizens to hold the government and large corporations accountable for wrongdoing," said Conacher.

Here are some highlights from the report card:

  • The NDP had top marks in two categories, with a D in the "Representative, Citizen-Driven Government and Corporations" area, and an E in the "Honest, Ethical Government" area;
  • The Green Party received a B, the best overall grade, in the "General Government Accountability and Corporate Responsibility" category, largely because of their promise to protect whistleblowers;
  • The Conservatives topped out the "Efficient Government" area with a C+ due to its commitments to increase auditing and spending accountability;
  • All of the parties received the lowest grades in the "Open Government and Corporations" area, where none received higher than an F.

The measures called for are based on recommendations from four coalition groups coordinated by Democracy Watch in the areas of finance, ethics, corporate responsibility and community reinvestment.

The grades were based on a system that awarded an A for a platform that promises to implement the proposal, a B for vague or partial promises, a C or D for clear to vague promises to explore the proposal, an E for mentioning the proposal and F for only mentioning the theme of the proposal.