Editorial note: The following is a submitted op/ed article. The views and opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Kingstonist.
Former Mayor, Councillors join current candidates and concerned citizens in push for funding transparency
Transparency and accountability are important values that are much discussed in politics.
According to veteran Kingston anti-poverty advocate Tara Kainer: “When I donate money to a municipal candidate, I’m supporting someone who I believe will work for the common good. For all of us. Not because I have a commercial interest in the election’s outcome.”
Council candidates committed to making their $100+ donors public include Kingston’s longest-serving Councillor, Lisa Osanic, and Councillor Jeff McLaren. First-time candidates Annette Burfoot, Paul Chaves, and Gregory Ridge have also agreed to make their $100+ donors public.
“I was glad to have my donations made public,” said food security activist Elaine Power, a Queen’s Professor of Health Studies. “That’s because we should know before we vote which candidates will work in the best interests of everyone. Not just realtors, developers, and other special interests.”
Ms. Kainer and Prof. Power are part of the group Democracy in Kingston. It’s concerned about transparency in election funding.
“We heard about a leading Ottawa mayoralty candidate who has just made her donor list public,” added Prof Power. “It’s something that’s long overdue.”
All municipal candidates are required by law to file the names of supporters ($100 and above). But that only happens several months after voting day. Supporters of the status quo — the secrecy-shrouded approach to election funding rules — no doubt will claim that they are simply following the law.
But that’s the point. What’s the point in waiting until 2023 to let voters know who backed their representatives in 2022? Isn’t that a bit late to find out which City politicians have been accepting up to $1,200 from individuals who can easily afford substantial donations?
Democracy in Kingston believes that electors need to know that candidates will be accountable to all the voters, not just those who have no problem writing big cheques.
“Informing voters about my donors is a good idea because it makes my campaign more transparent,” said Ms. Burfoot. “I challenge everyone running for office to do the same.”
All 2022 candidates have been invited to make a similar public disclosure before election day. And all have been informed of the Democracy in Kingston initiative. Transparency matters.
Democracy in Kingston
Susan Belyea, Resident of Kingscourt Rideau District
Helen Cooper, Former Mayor of Kingston, resident of Sydenham District
Pamela Cornell, Resident of King’s Town District
Roberta Hamilton, Resident of Sydenham District
Pat Hodge, Former city councillor, resident of Williamsville District
Tara Kainer, Resident of Williamsville District
Samantha King, Resident of Kingscourt Rideau District
Margaret Little, Resident of Kings Town District
Allan Manson, Resident of Pittsburgh District
Beth Pater, Former city councillor, Resident of Sydenham District
Kip Pegley, Resident of Kings Town District
Elaine Power, Resident of Meadowbrook-Strathcona District
Jamie Swift, Resident of Kings Town District
Share your views! Submit a Letter to the Editor or an Op/Ed article to Kingstonist’s Editor-in-Chief Tori Stafford at [email protected].