Disclose donations before election day, candidate proposes

NEWS/ CIVIC ELECTION 2014 — Kamloops voters should know before election day where campaign donations are coming from, says council candidate Peter Kerek.

“There needs to be more transparency before voters go to the polls – it’s too late once the ballots are cast,” said Kerek.

He gave KGHM International’s Ajax project as one example of a sensitive issue that should be subject to his proposal.

Kerek also called on the incumbent mayor and councillors to acknowledge when a significant donor to their respective campaigns makes a presentation or application to City Council.

“The vast majority of people, including reporters, don’t have the time to go sleuthing around to find out which councillors have received donations from various companies.

“Forcing them to disclose their donor relationship with a presenter or applicant will at least allow everyone in the room to understand that there already exists a monetary political relationship between the parties,” said Kerek.

Council members aren’t required to declare a conflict of interest unless they would receive a direct benefit from a decision involving a campaign contributor or other applicant.

Kerek said he would support a ban on all donations from corporations and organizations and supports putting a $100 cap on individual donations.


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5 Comments on Disclose donations before election day, candidate proposes

  1. I should also say that while I do agree with Mr. Kerek’s proposal,I don’t think Kamloops is the type of place where corporations are dumping thousands of dollars into campaigns. Most candidates put up their own money or in Mr. Kerek’s position, crowdsource for it.

  2. KGHM Ajax wants the community to know we will not offer any candidate direct or indirect financial support in this civic election campaign. We encourage all citizens to become involved in the democratic process, learn about the issues, demand informed responses from those seeking office and of course, get out to vote for the candidates of their choice on Nov. 15.

  3. “The vast majority of people, including reporters, don’t have the time to go sleuthing around to find out which councillors have received donations from various companies.”

    Isn’t it a reporters job to go sleuthing around for answers?

    • In a perfect world , reporters wouldn’t have to do that . Seeing as we don’t live there yet, then yes, it is a reporters job to dig up that sort of thing.

    • Regarding sleuthing reporters: there are very few investigative reporters/media in Canada anymore. Most reporting involves taking quotes from a couple different sources, putting in some background info, a little editing, and off to print the story goes. Or, in many cases, a source writes the story and issues it in a press release which is then printed without contact even being made between the source and the media outlet; and this is the most cost-effective way for a media outlet to conduct business.

      Investigative reporting takes a lot of behind-the-scenes resources that media outlets do not see much return (profit) on. The Toronto Star is the only paper in Canada, that I know of, that still maintains a department dedicated to investigative reporting. CBC has the Fifth Estate and CTV has W5.

      In regards to what the role of the reporter it’s essential to remember that the majority of media outlets need to produce revenue for shareholders, they are businesses, and the vast majority of that revenue comes from advertisers, so the role of the reporter is to present stories that will not be offensive to their most important revenue sources. Sites like the Armchairmayor has really opened up the possibilities for activists to expose material through sleuthing, in part because they don’t require many resources to operate and therefore don’t require a lot of revenue from advertisers, and, in this case, you have a civic-minded publisher who probably doesn’t need the revenue anyway. None-the-less, he also has only so many hours in a day and it is very unlikely he would have time to commit to sleuthing. One last costly thing about investigative reporting: sometimes the reporter doesn’t actually find out anything interesting and all those investigative man-hours have been entirely wasted with no story at the end of the day.

      I just happened to stumble across the candidate disclosure documents on the city’s website and thought there were some unusually large donations from individuals and corporations; after about an hour of compiling some data from all the candidates some patterns appeared; some of these donors have vested interests in having a friendly council before them when they’re making applications or presentations.

      While some may think that the amounts of donations being discussed are not significant (between $500 and $2500) there are already rules in place for councillors to exit the room when a bylaw/policy change comes before the council which may result in a financial benefit or hardship for a sitting councillor or mayor, or of a councillor or mayor’s relative or friend, regardless of the amount being discussed. Yet, when a donor to a councillor or mayor appears before council, councillors do not step out of the room, are not required to disclose the potential conflict of interest at anytime during the presentation, and are free to advocate on behalf of that donor. I don’t see how they can justify calling one situation a conflict-of-interest for a financial impact and not do the same for the other.

      Every amount counts. If you look at the expenditures you’ll see that the council candidate challengers who got on to council also compiled three out of the four most expensive campaigns. Singh spent the most, Cavers second-most and Dever fourth-most. The third biggest spender, Philpot, only narrowly missed beating out Dever. Although Christian finished first without spending much he was a high-profile candidate who served many terms as a school-board trustee and had more name-recognition than several of the other candidates combined. Incumbents have an easier time to get re-elected because they already have a few years of name recognition and all the free media coverage they like, so their spending requirements to run a successful campaign are almost always going to be lower than challengers. And if you look at the least successful challengers who finished with the least votes, they were also the candidates who spent the least on their campaigns.

      Just for comparison’s sake, the $2,000 Councillor Wallace received from companies owned by local developer and lawyer Frank Quinn, was more money than what was spent by seven other candidates who ran against her.

      $500 may not seem like much to many folks, but to the working poor it can represent more than what they are able to save in an entire year. If donations and fundraising didn’t matter, then candidates wouldn’t bother with it, and neither would donors. But it obviously does matter, and the presence of major donors, and candidates who compete for those donor dollars, negatively skews the results for those candidates with ideas that do not appeal to the wealthiest individuals or corporations who throw money at candidates.

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