Town councillors reject cap on cash rebates given to election campaign donors

Last year, Ward 6 MP Tom Adams provided $ 1,200 for Rob Burton to be re-elected mayor of Oakville.

Stephanie Adams, who lives in the same area, was equally generous. He also sent Burton $ 1,200 – the maximum amount that a person can give to a nominee in accordance with the Municipal Elections Act.

Ward 5 Councilor Jeff Knoll and his wife combined to donate $ 2,400 to Burton, as did Ward 6 Councilor Natalia Lishchyna and Taras Lishchyna.

Ward 4 Councilor Peter Longo donated $ 1,200, as did April Gamache, who lives at the same address.

And in a show of generosity, both Rob and his wife, Wendy Burton, made a donation of $ 1,200 Adams, Knoll, Lishchyna and Far away.

On top of that, the Adams family and the Lishchyna family exchanged donations of $ 1,200.

All of these contributions are described in detail 2018 financial report cards publicly available online.

What is the purpose of the exchange of all these contributions?

However, it seems that all politicians are only half as generous as they feel.

Since 2003, Oakville has contributed 50 percent return for local voters who contribute less than $ 100 to the city’s voter campaign.

The program, which cost taxpayers nearly $ 100,000 in the 2018 election, was drafted in line with a proposal by a citizen committee seeking to promote participation in urban politics.

Although contributions to federal political parties and territories are tax-deductible, there is no tax receipt for the donation of money to a representative in a municipality. The project seeks to make the electorate more accessible by promoting citizen donations.

But there is one drawback to this program: candidates nominated by their wives and relatives should not be reimbursed for their campaign contributions.

But Burton could recoup the money given to the Adams campaign. And Adams could return the money donated to the Burton campaign.

“I think it can be understood that way,” admits Knoll, who said he and his wife returned the money they gave to Burton.

I mean, the truth is that I helped him (Burton), he helped me, and a couple helped each other because we love working together, and we want to see each other’s campaigns go well.

Whatever the reality or speculation, the discounts the mayor received, the four councilors and their wives are spending more than 10 percent of the total deduction program in 2018.

The council votes to secure a major discount

However, neither Burton nor the councilors have announced that a dispute has arisen over the issue. Oct. 18.

A reports from Oakville town clerk Vicki Tytaneck suggested that the refund of those who contributed to the 2022 election campaign be $ 375 for each donation.

By reducing the premium from $ 600, the town could save about $ 24,000, Tytaneck said. The fund could help pay for the epidemic in the October elections.

This reduction will bring about a rebate in line with eight other similar programs offered by nearby municipalities.

During a brief discussion, councilors rejected the amendment and unanimously voted to reconsider the $ 600 interest.

Adams, whose family received $ 2,400 in compensation for the 2018 donations to Burton and Lishchyna, moved the changes.

“The result is just to get us back to where we were in the last election, according to how the deduction system worked, which I believe worked well for the community,” he said.

In an interview with Oakville News, Adams said he gave Burton money because he believed he was the right person for the mayor. He also said he and his wife had asked for a cut because “the program is open to residents and we are residents.”

On the idea of ​​exchanging donations, Adams said, “The program was designed to encourage people to donate, and I think this is going well.”

Finally, he said declaring a dispute on the issue was not necessary.

“I think if you look, you will find that most of the council members have submitted, and you may have a problem with the council failing to make a decision,” Adams said. “There is a policy against demand that allows voters to make such choices.”

Knoll added that the program provides financial support for those who want to challenge politicians in council positions.

Burton, Lishchyna, and Longo did not respond to our call for comment.

A Request for Information Rights has been filed

Although details of the offer made to all eligible candidates are available online as a public profile, the town does not provide the same visibility for refunds.

Apparently, Burton and his wife were reimbursed $ 4,800 each for their contributions to their fellow councilors’ campaign.

And maybe, Lishchyna, Longo and their wives all raised $ 600 on their donations to Burton.

But we cannot guarantee this, since the town does not publish a list of people who have received a refund without the request for a Freedom of Information.

We have submitted this request and hope that the town will follow the rules to respond to FOI requests within 30 days.

Discount history

“The main purpose of the program is to encourage people to participate in urban elections by reducing the financial burden on candidates and campaigners,” the Tytaneck report said.

Established in 2003, the program originally offered a $ 200 interest on donations. In the 2010 general election, councilors voted to reduce the budget by 50 percent. At the time, the minimum wage for eligible candidates was $ 750.

In a recent election, donations from corporations and business organizations were abolished. Urban applicants are now receiving donations from people living in Ontario. The maximum per capita campaign contribution was increased to $ 1,200, with $ 5,000 in donations per capita running for multiple candidates running for office in one council or school board.

Councilors agreed to increase the maximum discount under the program to $ 600 for each donation.

Despite the high cost of reimbursement to Oakville taxpayers, it seems that it has failed to increase the number of people who donate money to urban campaigns.

In 2018, the town donated $ 99,948 to 292 donors. In the 2006 election, 364 donors received $ 25,008.

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