A Debate Over Five Words: and the City of Ottawa

Kevin O'Donnell
2015-03-26 12:49

Councillor Tobi Nussbaum tabled a notice of motion (video at 1h:15m:25s) that, if passed, will have the City of Ottawa officially ask the Provincial Government for the power to ban corporate and union donations in our municipal elections. This is a power Toronto already has.

Joanne Chianello wrote about the motion (Ottawa Citizen), as did Jon Willing (Ottawa Sun), Jean-François Dugas (LeDroit), and Lucy Scholey (Metro) so I won't attempt to go over the same material.

Chianello also went back over who said what during the election on campaign donations.

I do want to point out just how incredibly small the change Ottawa would be asking for if Nussbaum's motion is successful. Behold, Section 70.1(1) of the Municipal Elections Act, with highlighted changes:

70.1  (1)  The City of Toronto and the City of Ottawa may by by-law prohibit a corporation that carries on business in Ontario or a trade union that holds bargaining rights for employees in Ontario from making a contribution to or for any candidate for an office on city council. 2006, c. 11, Sched. B, s. 10.

Today Ottawa's hands are tide when it comes to banning corporate and union donations. We can't ban them, because provincial law says they are allowed.

Nussbaum's motion simply asks the province to unshackle our hands and allow Ottawa to ban donations if that's what we ultimately want to do. If we end up banning them and it turns out to be a disaster we can un-ban them. It would be Ottawa's decision to make.

The only reason I can think of that a sitting councillor would vote against having more decision making power is because they don't want to be faced with the decision itself.

(video should start at 1:15:25 automatically)

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