Keith Gerein: Edmonton Candidates Demanding Government Transparency Must Start With Their Own

As such, it is highly disappointing to learn, less than a week before Election Day, that just a third of the candidates running for a council seat have revealed their list of donors.

Article content

To their credit, a large number of candidates running in this year’s civic elections have spoken in blunt terms about the need for strong transparency in city hall.

Commercial

Article content

Municipal government, it must be said, has long been ahead of its federal and provincial counterparts in this regard, thanks to a system that requires open debate and decision-making, and a regular response from the mayor and councilors.

Of course, there is always room for improvement.

Candidates who blow the horn of transparency often frame it in terms of greater openness in the way public money is spent.

But many also rightly emphasize the need to shed light on the individuals or groups, or “special interests,” as some candidates call them, trying to influence the city council and its elected officials. In a nonpartisan setting, it can be especially difficult for audiences to spot who might be trying to control the gears behind the scenes.

Commercial

Article content

As such, it is highly disappointing to learn, less than a week before Election Day, that just a third of the candidates running for a council seat have revealed their list of donors.

This poor performance extends to the mayoral race, in which only four of the 11 candidates, and only one of the top contenders, have so far released some kind of donor disclosure.

Equally discouraging, of the eight city councilors seeking re-election, only Andrew Knack had disclosed his financial contributors as of October 11.

(Thanksgiving was a flop this year due to the risk of COVID, so yes, I spent the long weekend browsing the websites of 85 candidates. Whenever people suggest journalists lead exciting lives, this is it. the kind of experience I cite to correct them).

Commercial

Article content

To be fair, disclosure of the donation wasn’t exactly a priority in past civic elections, either. Edmonton Elections long had the power to require that donor lists be released before Election Day, when it would be most useful to voters, but I don’t know that they ever did.

Consequently, when it was revealed in early 2020 that the UCP was moving forward with changes to municipal electoral rules, modest hopes were raised that the government might consider greater transparency.

Instead, the province took the opposite route, even eliminating the option for municipalities to require pre-vote disclosure and instead gave all candidates the option of waiting until March of next year to present their list of candidates. contributors. And, unfortunately, it seems that the majority are making that decision.

Commercial

Article content

(It is noteworthy that this withdrawal of the opening occurred at the same time that the UCP changed the rules to allow more money in the campaigns).

From time to time I have wondered why so many candidates demanding financial frankness from the government succumb to hypocrisy when it comes to their own books.

For some, I can imagine it’s a bit embarrassing if they don’t have many donors. But for others, is it laziness? Campaign exhaustion? Are you concerned about protecting donor privacy?

One understandable reason is that candidates who make the effort to disclose tend not to get much credit for doing so, as donor transparency is often overwhelmed by other issues.

As such, please consider this column as my guide to the importance of campaign disclosure and to encourage you to make this part of your calculations when voting. And to help you, here are some findings from my research weekend.

Commercial

Article content

• Of the 85 candidates for mayor and councilman, 26 had published a reasonable donor list as of October 11, while three more had published a partial list. Yes, I may have missed some, but if they are hard to find, then transparency is not being met.

• In the mayoral race, Amarjeet Sohi, Diana Steele and Brian “Breezy” Gregg have published lists, while Rick Comrie has a partial list on a GoFundMe page.

• Michael Oshry, Kim Krushell and Cheryll Watson have said they will announce their donors this week or next weekend, possibly just hours before Election Day. You are free to ask yourself, as I do, whether this moment meets the threshold of true transparency.

• When I asked Mike Nickel about his outreach plans, this was his response: “Several people who have supported my campaign… have been attacked. I’m not giving these people any more ammunition to target my supporters. “In other words, Nickel has decided to put the wishes of his donors before opening up to the voters. It is highly unlikely that we will see a list from him before March.

Commercial

Article content

• Of the nine council candidates Nickel has endorsed or thanked, none have disclosed their donors.

• The four council candidates endorsed by Mayor Don Iveson – Ashley Salvador, Keren tang, Ahmed Knowmadic Ali and Anne Stevenson – all have published their contribution lists.

• Among the nine council candidates who have received endorsement / support from the NDP MLA or related labor movement, five have revealed to his collaborators, while one has a list with no surnames, only initials (Erin Rutherford in Anirniq).

• There are two districts where neither candidate has a public donor list: Sspomitapi in the southeast and Dene in the northeast.

Candidates, especially those seeking authority over multi-billion dollar budgets, must be seriously questioned whether they are unwilling or unable to keep a public record of their income and expenses.

Black money already has too much influence on our politics. It’s a shame that so many who exploit it as an electoral issue see no problem with their own acts of darkness.

[email protected]

twitter.com/keithgerein

    Commercial

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civilized discussion forum and encourages all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments can take up to an hour to moderate before appearing on the site. We ask that you keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications – you will now receive an email if you receive a response to your comment, there is an update from a comment thread you follow, or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Principles for more information and details on how to adjust your E-mail settings.



Reference-edmontonjournal.com

Leave a Comment