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Election Campaign Finance Reform

At the November 4th 2013 Regular Council Meeting, at Agenda Item 23, councillor Haywood brought forward a non-binding Notice of Motion in respect of mayors and councilors in relation to campaign finance. The Motion past by a margin of 4 to 3, with Mayor Mussatto and councillor Keating speaking in strong opposition.

Councillor Buchanan also voted against the motion, but did not speak to it. The motion read as follows;

23. Financing of Election Campaigns – File: 4200-01
Submitted by: Councillor R.G. Heywood

WHEREAS the Provincial Government’s recent effort to reform local government elections did not deal          with the source of election campaign funds;

AND WHEREAS the appearance of a conflict of interest is created when developers and unions that make significant contributions to election campaigns of candidates for Council also have matters that come before Council and that whether or not these conflicts are permitted in law, they harm the reputation of Council and impair the legitimacy of its decisions;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT while this resolution does not have the force of law, the City of North Vancouver strongly urges all candidates for election to Council to abstain from accepting donations from developers with projects or potential projects before Council or from labour unions that represent employees of the City; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the other Metro Vancouver municipalities, UBCM and the Provincial Ministry of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

This motion is not intended to discourage modest personal contributions from citizens who are employees of property development companies or individual members of unions. It is intended to discourage organizations with a direct pecuniary interest in matters before Council from being significant contributors to the funding of elections to City Council.

The gist of both Mayor Mussatto and councilor Keating’s arguments, in favour of allowing the continuation of campaign donations from developers and unions, was two fold.

  1. They needed the money to run a proper and successful campaign, and
  2. They could be relied upon to make the right and proper decision, and they would never allow the money received from a developer or union to sway them, despite the amount paid. They both claimed they were above such influence or moral persuasion.

In response to the later argument, the North Shore News published a good tongue and cheek article essentially saying these guys must not be human if the money has no effect.

No one in the media has yet pointed out that at $52,121.00, Mayor Mussatto took in nearly 10 times the total combined amounts donated to the successful mayoralty campaigns of West Vancouver’s Mayor Mike Smith and North Vancouver District’s Mayor Richard Walton. Mayor Mussatto spent all but $434.57 of these funds despite having no real challenger to his position. Unlike Mayor Mussatto, Mayor’s Smith and Walton were the primary funders to each of their respective campaigns.

On November 25th 2013, I came before council and made a presentation in respect of councillor Keating’s conflict regarding the Onni vote. I requested that he disclose what portion of the $78,500 campaign finance donation made by Omni’s parent company RPMG to the NDP provincial election campaign coffers had actually come with “ear-marks” and had flowed through to the Keating campaign. Councillor Keating was also asked to disclose when he became aware of the RPMG donation in relation to the Onni vote, and why he had not declared this conflict, and recuesed himself from the Onni decision, instead of remaining silent and casting a vote in favour of the Onni project. The four questions put to Keating are set out in my Public Input Period presentation dated November 25th 2013.

Councillor Keating initially refused to answer these questions.

At the same November 25th 2013 Regular Council Meeting, I placed before council for its consideration, a Bylaw in relation to campaign finance.

The Bylaw was intending to answer and resolve the questions and issues raised by Mayor Mussatto and councilor Keating, so that they might lend their support to campaign finance reform in the City, removing any potential for conflict of interest in the voting process. That amending resolution is setout below;

     Financing of Election Campaigns – File: 4200-01 Amendment (Proposed)
       Submitted by Kerry Morris

AMENDING RESOLUTION:

WHEREAS the Council of the City of North Vancouver, on November 4, 2013 by a vote of 4 to 3, passed a non-binding election finance (RESOLUTION 4200-01) in the form submitted by Councillor R.G. Heywood, urging all candidates for Council to abstain from accepting donations from developers with projects before Council or from labour unions that represent employees of the City of North Vancouver;

AND WHEREAS Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Councillors Linda Buchanan and Craig Keating voted against the resolution;

AND WHEREAS Mayor Darrell Mussatto and Councillor Craig Keating spoke against the resolution on the basis that standing for election to public office was a costly enterprise, making necessary the taking of political campaign contributions from the two subject categories of contributors in order to mount a successful election campaign;

BE IT RESOLVED THAT this amendment to the File 4200-01 Resolution of November 4, 2013, approves the taking of political campaign donations by any person standing for election to the Council of the City of North Vancouver, including the taking of political campaign contributions from developers with projects which are or will come before council, or from labour unions that represent employees of the City of North Vancouver; but in so doing the candidate for council agrees voluntarily to be bound by the following additional campaign finance policy terms exclusive to the City of North Vancouver, which policy terms are;

  • THAT CANDIDATES for Council for the City of North Vancouver may take donations from developers and unions who’s matters come before the City during the term of their elected appointment but must recues themselves from any vote on any matter where that contribution exceeds $25 per month, or $300.00 per annum (cumulative); and
  • THAT ALL candidates for Council for the City of North Vancouver will serve each developer and/or union and/or other person or entity, at the time the donation is made, with a signed written statement, informing the developer, union or other entity, as the case may be, that should a matter involving the donating organization or entity, or an organization or entity related to or associated with the donor organization or entity, comes before council during the term of that candidates appointment, he or she will, in accordance with this policy, recues him or herself from any discussion on the issue and abstain from voting on any matter(s) relating to that donor and/or any related and/or associated entities; and
  • THAT ALL INCUMBENT CANDIDATES standing for office at another level of government, or standing or holding office with a political party, will recues him or herself from any discussion or vote on a matter in relation to a donor, where they or their party have taken political campaign donations of any amount that when combined with the maximum monthly contribution aloud under this resolution for a candidate, exceeds $25.00 per month or $300.00 per annum (cumulative);

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT a copy of this resolution be forwarded to the Metro Vancouver municipalities, UBCM and the Provincial Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development.

At the January 27th 2014 Regular council Meeting, councillor Clark brought forward a non-binding Notice of Motion which was developed in answer to my amending resolution motion. A copy of Councillor Clark’s Motion is setout below;

     23. Financing of Election Campaigns – File: 4200-01

      Submitted by: Councillor Clark

BE IT RESOLVED THAT further to the motion of November 4, 2013, entitled Financing of Election Campaigns, which was duly passed by a majority of City Council, it is further resolved that while this resolution does not have the force of law, the City of North Vancouver’s elected Mayor and City Councillors who have taken campaign donations greater than $500 from any donor shall recues themselves from City Council discussion and votes with respect to issues concerning that donor and/or associated entities;

AND THAT further to the motion of November 4, 2013, entitled Financing of Election Campaigns, which was duly passed by a majority of City Council, it is further resolved that while this resolution does not have the force of law, the City of North Vancouver’s elected Mayor and City Councillors standing for office at another level of government or standing or holding office with a political party, shall recues themselves from any discussion or vote at the City Council table on a matter in relation to a donor and/or associated entities where they or their party have taken political campaign donations of greater than $500.

Councillor Clark’s Motion was set over to and heard on March 3rd 2014 when council was unable to complete the full list of agenda items set for vote on January 27th 2014. The Motion was split in two parts (paragraph #1 – Vote #1, paragraph #2 – Vote #2). Paragraph 1 passed in a 4/3 split decision of council, with Mayor Mussatto and councillors Keating and Buchanan voting against the motion. Paragraph 2 was defeated in a 5/2 split decision with only councillors Clark and Bookham supporting the Motion.

What do you think?

What do you think about my position on Election Campaign Finance Reform?

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