One year ago I wrote about Municipal Campaign Finance Reform in response to this motion City Council passed on July 8th, 2015:
That the Mayor write a letter and/or advocate to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Premier:
- Requesting that the city be given be the ability to independently establish campaign finance and disclosure rules in advance of the 2017 Municipal Election, either via the City Charter or other means.
- Notwithstanding desiring the autonomy for municipalities to set the other campaign finance and disclosure rules, Edmonton calls for amendments to the Local Authorities Elections Act to eliminate corporate and union donations for all local election candidates.
- Requesting that should the legislature move to limit corporate and union contributions for all local elections, that the province level the playing field by introducing tax credit eligibility for local election donations.
- That restrictions on contributions and related disclosure requirements be the same for third party advocacy groups/individuals as they are for municipal candidates.
The blog post above details the current rules regarding campaign finance and why I believe the rules should change in order to encourage more people to run for office. Since the Province did not change the rules in advance of the election this October, I have decided not to accept corporate and union donations for the 2017 municipal election. I hope that by following through with the intent of the motion for this election, it can help ensure the Province moves forward with making the necessary changes for future elections.
I believe the current rules make it easier for the incumbent to raise significantly more money which in turn discourages people from choosing to put their name forward. There are still additional changes that could be made to encourage more people to run (ex: spending cap per resident, limiting the maximum contribution amount, tax credit eligibility for personal donations, etc.) but eliminating corporate and union donations is an important first step to creating an environment that focuses on who has the best ideas versus who can raise the most money. While I will still look to raise money for various campaign expenses, I will accept personal donations only. I will also disclose all donations received in advance of the October 16th, 2017 election just as I did in my 2010 and 2013 campaigns.
If you have any questions, please let me know and over the next three months, I look forward to talking about the ways we can continue to improve our city.