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Many candidates reject corporate and union donations

Nov 04, 2006

At least a third of the people running for council on November 13 are promising not to accept campaign donations from unions or corporations. The list includes a majority of the mayoralty candidates but only three current members of council.

Thirty-five of the 55 mayoralty and councillor candidates responded to the Fair Election Financing questionnaire of Citizens at City Hall (CATCH), or to similar queries from the magazine Raise the Hammer. A majority agreed to only accept donations from individuals and have promised to disclose a list of their donors before election day.

Positive responses were received from mayoralty candidates Fred Eisenberger, Diane Elms, Steve Leach and Marty Zuliniak. Mayor Di Ianni also responded but after three emails from CATCH volunteers his position is still unclear.

“I believe that my campaign team has indicated that we will be releasing information related to some of your questions,” the mayor wrote. “I hope you will stay tuned. I also am on record as already having answered some of your questions in the mainstream media. You take careful notice, I know, so you will be aware of my positions on the issues you are canvassing.”

A request for clarification sent on October 15 has not received a reply.

Eisenberger issued a media release on September 12 that he is not accepting corporate and union donations. He has promised to make his donor list public. Diane Elms has taken the same position.

Steve Leach informed CATCH that he is not accepting any donations whatsoever, while Marty Zuliniak stated: “I will disclose all my contributions over $100.00 by Nov 13/06 and I will not be collecting any from Unions or Corporate Companies.”

Three sitting councillors – Brian McHattie in ward one, Bob Bratina in ward two and Margaret McCarthy in Waterdown – have also fully endorsed the CATCH call for fair election financing. Responses were received by CATCH or Raise the Hammer from six of the either other incumbents standing for re-election.

Chad Collins, Bernie Morelli and Tom Jackson each submitted very similar statements that they intend to follow existing provincial law that allows corporate and union donations and only requires disclosure by March 31, 2007.

“I plan to fully comply with the current Provincial regulations related to election financing,” wrote Collins. “In keeping with the legislation, I'll be filing an audited financial statement for public disclosure.”

“I will be following the rules as directed by the Provincial Legislation governing campaign contributions for Municipal Elections,” said Jackson.

“I plan to follow the rules, as set out by the official Provincial Legislation governing Municipal Elections,” promised Morelli.

Sam Merulla said he would follow CATCH’s recommendation “so long as all candidates sign on to the agreement.” Dave Mitchell and Phil Bruckler provided non-commital responses to questions asked by Raise the Hammer. No response was received from Terry Whitehead or Maria Pearson.

Eleven other council candidates have promised not to accept corporate or union gifts. They are Fred Spencer, Judy Macdonald-Musitano, Sean Gibson, Dave Banko, Dennis Haining, Mark-Alan Whittle, Aznive Mallet, John Rocchi, Peggy Chapman, Julia Kollek and Russ Powers. Most of these also promised to reveal their donors before the election. Several, including Gibson, Mallet, Kollek and Powers are posting them on their websites.

Disclosure has also been promised by Tony Greco, Dave Wilson, John Gallagher, Tim Nolan, Peter Martin, Keith Beck, Sergio Della Fortuna, and Keith Sharp. The answers from some candidates was unclear. All the replies are posted on the CATCH website.

A CATCH review of donations in the 2003 election showed corporations provided more than two-thirds of the financing for the twelve councillors who accepted donations from this source.

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