Don’t ban business from electoral process, says Ancaster councillor

News Aug 20, 2009 Ancaster News

Banning corporate and union donations in municipal election campaigns may sound like a great way to level the playing field. But even if Hamilton moves ahead with municipal campaign reforms, don’t expect the flow of corporate money to stop completely, says a McMaster political scientist.

In a 9-5 vote last week, Hamilton councillors supported a ban against corporate and union donations in municipal elections. But before any ban can be enacted, the city must ask the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to amend the Municipal Elections Act. The move to reform campaign financing is led by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who made the issue a key part of his 2006 mayoral campaign.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson was one of the five councillors who voted against the plan. He received $24,491 in corporate donations for his 2006 campaign for Ward 12.

“To ban (businesses) from the political process is sending the wrong message,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Ferguson’s 2006 council campaign was bolstered by donations from several home builders, including Mattamy Homes, which is now building a 320-unit development at the former Ancaster Fairgrounds.

But Mr. Ferguson said corporate donors are no different from individuals who choose to support a particular candidate during a campaign.

“You don’t do the wrong thing for $750,” said Mr. Ferguson, citing the maximum contribution a corporation is allowed to make. “Is it any different from an individual who expects (approval) on a severance (application)?”

Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University, noted directors of major corporations can still contribute as individuals to the candidates of their choice.

“Ultimately, the people who benefit from large corporate and union donations can still receive contributions from owners of corporations,” said Mr. Graefe.

Instead of a corporate and union ban, Mr. Graefe suggested a special tax rebate for donors, similar to the federal tax credit which provides a rebate of up to 75 per cent to registered political candidates.

“In a sense, the rebate is really pushing citizen-financed elections,” Mr. Graefe said.

Mr. Graefe noted that although corporate donors are limited to a maximum contribution of $750, potential conflicts of interest arise when candidates accept money from developers and others with a vested interest in municipal matters.

But on the other hand, candidates who refuse money from developers under the current rules may be putting themselves at a disadvantage.

“No one wants to say no to that money if they think their competition will say yes,” said Mr. Graefe.

Don’t ban business from electoral process, says Ancaster councillor

News Aug 20, 2009 Ancaster News

Banning corporate and union donations in municipal election campaigns may sound like a great way to level the playing field. But even if Hamilton moves ahead with municipal campaign reforms, don’t expect the flow of corporate money to stop completely, says a McMaster political scientist.

In a 9-5 vote last week, Hamilton councillors supported a ban against corporate and union donations in municipal elections. But before any ban can be enacted, the city must ask the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to amend the Municipal Elections Act. The move to reform campaign financing is led by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who made the issue a key part of his 2006 mayoral campaign.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson was one of the five councillors who voted against the plan. He received $24,491 in corporate donations for his 2006 campaign for Ward 12.

“To ban (businesses) from the political process is sending the wrong message,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Ferguson’s 2006 council campaign was bolstered by donations from several home builders, including Mattamy Homes, which is now building a 320-unit development at the former Ancaster Fairgrounds.

But Mr. Ferguson said corporate donors are no different from individuals who choose to support a particular candidate during a campaign.

“You don’t do the wrong thing for $750,” said Mr. Ferguson, citing the maximum contribution a corporation is allowed to make. “Is it any different from an individual who expects (approval) on a severance (application)?”

Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University, noted directors of major corporations can still contribute as individuals to the candidates of their choice.

“Ultimately, the people who benefit from large corporate and union donations can still receive contributions from owners of corporations,” said Mr. Graefe.

Instead of a corporate and union ban, Mr. Graefe suggested a special tax rebate for donors, similar to the federal tax credit which provides a rebate of up to 75 per cent to registered political candidates.

“In a sense, the rebate is really pushing citizen-financed elections,” Mr. Graefe said.

Mr. Graefe noted that although corporate donors are limited to a maximum contribution of $750, potential conflicts of interest arise when candidates accept money from developers and others with a vested interest in municipal matters.

But on the other hand, candidates who refuse money from developers under the current rules may be putting themselves at a disadvantage.

“No one wants to say no to that money if they think their competition will say yes,” said Mr. Graefe.

Don’t ban business from electoral process, says Ancaster councillor

News Aug 20, 2009 Ancaster News

Banning corporate and union donations in municipal election campaigns may sound like a great way to level the playing field. But even if Hamilton moves ahead with municipal campaign reforms, don’t expect the flow of corporate money to stop completely, says a McMaster political scientist.

In a 9-5 vote last week, Hamilton councillors supported a ban against corporate and union donations in municipal elections. But before any ban can be enacted, the city must ask the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing to amend the Municipal Elections Act. The move to reform campaign financing is led by Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger, who made the issue a key part of his 2006 mayoral campaign.

Ancaster Councillor Lloyd Ferguson was one of the five councillors who voted against the plan. He received $24,491 in corporate donations for his 2006 campaign for Ward 12.

“To ban (businesses) from the political process is sending the wrong message,” Mr. Ferguson said.

Mr. Ferguson’s 2006 council campaign was bolstered by donations from several home builders, including Mattamy Homes, which is now building a 320-unit development at the former Ancaster Fairgrounds.

But Mr. Ferguson said corporate donors are no different from individuals who choose to support a particular candidate during a campaign.

“You don’t do the wrong thing for $750,” said Mr. Ferguson, citing the maximum contribution a corporation is allowed to make. “Is it any different from an individual who expects (approval) on a severance (application)?”

Peter Graefe, a political science professor at McMaster University, noted directors of major corporations can still contribute as individuals to the candidates of their choice.

“Ultimately, the people who benefit from large corporate and union donations can still receive contributions from owners of corporations,” said Mr. Graefe.

Instead of a corporate and union ban, Mr. Graefe suggested a special tax rebate for donors, similar to the federal tax credit which provides a rebate of up to 75 per cent to registered political candidates.

“In a sense, the rebate is really pushing citizen-financed elections,” Mr. Graefe said.

Mr. Graefe noted that although corporate donors are limited to a maximum contribution of $750, potential conflicts of interest arise when candidates accept money from developers and others with a vested interest in municipal matters.

But on the other hand, candidates who refuse money from developers under the current rules may be putting themselves at a disadvantage.

“No one wants to say no to that money if they think their competition will say yes,” said Mr. Graefe.