A new bylaw is officially in the works for public disclosure of election campaign expenses and contributions.
During Monday’s regular council meeting, council voted in favour of two of four parts of Coun. Don Mitchell’s motion to introduce a bylaw to address election contribution disclosure and expense limits for mayoral and council candidates. While the basic initiation of creating a bylaw was approved unanimously, there was some dissent on certain details.
“I think it is important that we be transparent and accountable about interests involved and engaged in civic politics,” said Mitchell. “I believe it’s also important to set some reasonable threshold for campaign expenses so that all citizens along with their supporters have the potential to mount a competitive campaign.”
The first part of Mitchell’s motion was passed unanimously. It stated that council initiate the creation of a bylaw under the provisions of the Local Government Election Act. The act states such a bylaw must be passed at least 60 days prior to an election.
The bylaw would establish disclosure requirements regarding campaign contributions and expenses for mayoral and council candidates. It would also create election campaign expense limits for mayoral and council positions.
Coun. Heather Eby said an average citizen who has supported campaigns in the past called her with concerns.
“The concern from that person was it’s very important that voter secrecy is paramount,” said Eby. “But when someone wants to support a campaign and then it’s made (known) in a public disclosure, obviously there’s no secrecy anymore in who they’re supporting.”
She added that no tax receipts are issued for municipal campaign donations, which is different from provincial and federal campaign donations.
“Contributors aren’t getting any tax break. They are just supporting someone that they choose to support,” said Eby.
For more information, see an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.