Owen Sound Election 2018

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- by Anne Finlay-Stewart, Editor

Does it matter who pays for the election campaigns of municipal candidates?
Election campaigns cost money; literature, signs and advertising make a difference. Some municipal candidates take contributions from supporters who want to see them elected.

We won't know who is making what contributions to municipal candidates in the 2018 election before the inaugural meeting in December, although the question could be asked at the September 26 All Candidates Meeting.

We do know what current council members accepted in 2014.
Three of them, for example, received contributions from Barry Kruisselbrink, his company, and/or his family members.

The reason election finance laws are continually being updated is to ensure that the process is fully transparent. The theory is that if the public knows who is contributing to election campaigns, and the candidates and donors know that the public will know, noone will be so bold as to ask for or offer any quid pro quo.

Mr. Kruisselbrink is an important contributor to jobs, housing, downtown commercial development and events in Owen Sound. As a result, he arguably has more interactions with the City of Owen Sound than anyone else.

Just as examples:

  • He or his company has come before council to request changes or extensions to the development charge "holiday". Those fees have now been $0 for the past four years.
  • Mr. Kruisselbrink is the largest single commercial landlord in downtown Owen Sound, so discussions at the council table like the tax rebate for vacant properties affect him.
  • "Grey Bruce Property Rentals"is the largest builder and manager of residential rental units in Owen Sound -  City by-law enforcement for property and building standards disproportionally affects the Kruisselbrinks.

That Mr. Kruisselbrink lobbies individual council members is no secret. After the development charges by-law conversations of 2015, one councillor said in an open meeting "I'm sure we've all had the same call from Mr. Kruisselbrink."  This communication with their representative is the right of every taxpayer.

One current City Councillor has told me they would not accept a contribution from Mr. Kruisselbrink, so there could be no perception of bias in discussions concerning his properties. More than one former member of council told me they would never accept any campaign funds from Mr. Kruisselbrink, or any other developer, for the same reason.

The choice to accept contributions from anyone opens candidates' actions and words to scrutiny.

None of this information is private - all candidates' donors and contributions are made public here in their financial reports. (bottom of the page)

Leom---Barry

This year no individual can give more than $1200 to any single candidate (up from $750 in 2014), and no more than $5000 total to all candidates within one municipality, nor can any candidate receive money from a corporation.


 

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