Taking money out of politics
Issues should be voters’ focus, not fundraising: Knack
Council candidates will raise big money from corporate and union donations in this year’s municipal election, but not all want to participate.
Coun. Andrew Knack said Friday he’s confident — though still undecided — he can campaign successfully without these donations this time around.
“I would like to not accept corporate or union donations for my first fundraiser. We’ll see how that goes and, if we get enough grassroots support, I think I should really hold true to that,” he said. “I want people to focus on the ideas and not on who can raise the most money.”
His push is reigniting the debate over taking big money out of municipal politics. During the 2013 election, 71 per cent of donations raised by winning candidates came from corporations and unions, according to data crunching by Metro.
The maximum amount any organization or individual can donate is $5,000.
Knack, who represents ward 1, noted some people argue councillors are in the pockets of developers due to the corporate donations they received.
“Those that make those donations don’t come to you every week and say, ‘Hey, we really need you to vote on this,’” he said. “That doesn’t happen, but I completely understand why some people feel that could happen.”
Keren Tang, who’s running for council in Ward 11, pledged in late January to not accept corporate or union cash.
Tang said such donations can make people think twice about city council’s decisions, especially if they involve developers.
City council passed a resolution in July 2015 that requested the Alberta government ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections, as it falls under provincial jurisdiction.
Shannon Greer, a ministry of municipal affairs spokesperson, said Friday the province is still considering the ban.
While two candidates running for Edmonton city council could do so without accepting corporate or union donations, the rules won’t require others to follow suit.
In July 2015, city council passed a motion to see Mayor Don Iveson request Alberta to allow Edmonton to ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections, in much the same way as has been done at the provincial level. But Ministry of Municipal Affairs spokesperson Shannon Greer said Friday that any review of the Local Authorities Elections Act, which governs municipal elections in Alberta, will happen after Edmonton’s coming poll.
“In consultation with our municipal leaders it was determined that large-scale changes to the (Act) would be too difficult to implement in time for the 2017 elections and that changes to financing rules could give incumbent candidates an unfair advantage,” Greer said.
Ward 1 Coun. Andrew Knack and Keren Tang, who’s running for council in Ward 11, have both said they hope to not accept these donations during their push for office. Tang said such donations can make people think twice about city council’s decisions, especially if they involve developers. “At city council you need to be working with everybody and I’m open to developing relationships with businesses, developers and unions, but I don’t think money needs to come into that process.”
Keren Tang, who’s running for council in ward 11, has pledged not to accept corporate or union donations.