June 26th, 2013
This letter from Mississauga Councillor Nando Iannicca to his Ward 7 constituents has been reproduced here with his kind permission.
Regarding the Municipal Election Campaign Contribution Rebate Program he writes:
Dear Ward 7 Ratepayers,
I bring to your attention a report on a Municipal Election Campaign Contribution Rebate Program that will be going to the Governance Committee of the City of Mississauga on Wednesday, June 12, 2013. Once this committee has dealt with the matter their final recommendation will be coming to a future Council meeting for ratification.
First and foremost, I bring the enclosed information to your attention because I fear you otherwise may not be aware of what is being proposed. Secondly, as both a Municipal Councillor whose first duty is to Taxpayers and not myself, and also as a private citizen, I have grave concerns at what may come to pass. A new policy is suggested that would see all Mississauga taxpayers rebate 50% of all political campaign contributions private individuals or corporations make to a candidate’s election campaign for any contribution between $100.00 and up to $750.00.
The full report can be obtained online at
http://www7.mississauga.ca/documents/agendas/committees/governance/06_12_2013_Governance_Committee_Agenda.pdf. I take this opportunity to highlight some of the comments directly from the report.
Through detailing the procedures and writing the draft implementing By-law, the Elections Office has identified the following concerns that relate to the Rebate Program:
- The cost of administering the program cannot be accurately estimated as cost will depend on the number of Candidates and contributors that participate and the amount of contributions that are made.
- The City of Mississauga does not have the legislated right to conduct audits to determine if requests for rebates are legitimate. Rebates will be issued based on the information provided by Candidates and Contributors and the program in accordance with the requirements of the Rebate Program.
- If a rebate is found to be illegitimate, the City of Mississauga has no legislated disciplinary course of action.
- Based on information provided by other municipalities who have a Rebate Program it has been identified that it may not meet the goals of Council to encourage more residents to contribute to Candidates and thereby somewhat relieve the financial burden on Candidates, and generate more resident interest in Municipal Elections and thereby increase voter turnout.
Given the uncertainty of the outcomes which will be achieved from the implementation of a Rebate Program, it is recommended that the Program be undertaken as a pilot program for the 2014 Municipal Election, and that Election staff review and report back to Governance Committee following the conclusion of the 2014 Rebate Program.
Financial Impact: The anticipated costs associated with the Rebate Program are as follows:
- $400,000 in rebate payouts are estimated based on the following estimates: approximately 175 candidates participate in the program, each candidate having 15 contributors requesting a rebate for contributions made on an average of $300 (initiating a payout of $150 per contributor).
- Program administration cost estimated to be $100,000 which includes one staff person for 18 months and postage and other material costs.
For my part, I am strongly opposed to the new program for the following reasons:
- I have always taken great pride and comfort in the fact that we are the only level of government in Canada whose election laws are created and legislated by another level of government. I simply followed the legislation provided by our Provincial Government and if any voter had any concern about what is or is not an appropriate election expense I could refer them to their Provincial Member of Parliament and the Premier to revise the legislation or pass whatever laws they see fit which I will continue to follow.
- We are also the only level of government who does not subsidize campaign election contributions with taxpayers’ money. When a supporter kindly contributes $100.00 to my campaign I issue an official campaign receipt but there is no official tax credit receipt nor can one be applied for.
- There can be no question the report dramatically underestimates the true final costs to taxpayers because of what I will call the “Hazel McCallion” factor. As both a legend and an icon our Mayor’s dynasty has meant that we have never really seen a full-fledged Mayoralty campaign in this City particularly when our Mayor has taken great pride at collecting and spending virtually nothing on her campaign. When this situation changes it is my estimate that a robust Mayoralty campaign can cost a single Candidate up to $1 million dollars and if two strong candidates run and spend the limit taxpayers are on the hook for $1 million dollars just for the Mayoralty contest, to which you would have to add whatever one half of the total cost of all the ward council races would be.
- I have always accepted and respected the fact that some voters in my constituency may choose to vote for another candidate. It is fundamentally illogical, unfair, and even offensive that they must then pay for one half of my election campaign through their municipal property taxes.
All told, as a politician, candidate, and taxpayer I have always taken great comfort in the fact that I play by the rules given to me, and any contributions received, in addition to the money my spouse and I put into my campaign, is in no way subsidized by any other taxpayer.
It is my strong belief that this is the system that should remain, and that you should be made aware of what is being contemplated.
Kindest personal regards,
Councillor, Ward 7