The flow of donations from unions, corporations and non-Manitoba residents to civic campaigns is about to be turned off
We reported yesterday that BC Premier Gordon Campbell is proposing some major reforms to the way civic politicians and their respective political parties finance and manage their affairs. However, BC is not the only province attempting to make major reforms to the way urban politicians gather cash to finance their campaigns.
In Manitoba, the NDP government has introduced Bill 35, the Municipal Conflict of Interest and Campaign Financing Act. If passed, this new legislation would end up making it illegal for unions and corporations to donate to civic campaigns. This would harmonize civic rules whith those already in place at the provincial level.
The Tory opposition is unhappy with the legislation and have proposed an amendment to Bill 35 which would delay implementation until after the next civic election in 2010. Mayor Sam Katz is not in support of the legislation and has told local media it is a "slap in the face to city council". Both Katz and the Tories believe it's unfair to implement the legislation in the middle of a term of civic government.
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities is also concerned about the impacts of Bill 35. President Doug Dobrowolski told the Standing Committee on Legislative Affairs:
"We understand the assumption that by entering public office your life becomes more public. However, there was never a commitment to have your financial disclosure information available to anyone to review at any time. It is unjust to change the rules on this important issue in the middle of a mandate."
According to the Manitoba Government the proposed election campaign finance rules for all municipalities would include:
- banning union and corporate donations;
- allowing only residents of Manitoba to contribute to municipal elections;
- setting maximum contribution limits to municipal candidates at $1,500 for heads of council and councillors elected at large, and $750 for candidates elected by ward, the same limits currently in place for the City of Winnipeg;
- applying the contribution limits to candidates and spouses;
- requiring the reporting and public disclosure of candidate contributions and expenses as currently required in the City of Winnipeg and extending the requirement to all Manitoba municipalities, and
- providing for optional municipal rebate/credit programs for election contributions or expenses.
If Bill 35 were to be implemented in jurisdictions such as Metro Vancouver, it would seriously impact the amount of money political parties such as Vision Vancouver and the NPA would be able to raise.