Few Ontario mayors and city councillors support banning municipal election campaign contributions from corporations and unions

Fair Vote Canada to launch campaign for a province-wide ban and expects strong public support

A recent survey of 474 city councillors and mayors in Ontario’s 42 largest cities (other than Toronto) found only 35 city councillors and two mayors willing to support a ban on corporate and union campaign contributions in municipal elections see list here a ban already instituted in many jurisdictions in Canada.

“Frankly, we were surprised and very disappointed at the low level of support for such a reform to campaign financing,” said Bronwen Bruch, President of Fair Vote Canada. “It looks like this issue could provide voters with a real point of differentiation between incumbents who support the status quo and those challengers, along with some incumbents, who want to see a fresh approach to municipal campaign financing.”

Bruch noted that most of those who do support the ban are not soliciting and voluntarily declining any contributions from corporations and unions in this election.

In November 2009, the city council of Toronto voted to ban corporate and union campaign contributions, a standard that is also in place for federal elections, as well as provincial elections in Quebec, Manitoba and Nova Scotia, and for all municipal elections in Quebec.

In his 2009 study Funding City Politics, published by VoteToronto.ca and the Centre for Social Justice, York University professor Robert MacDermid documented that a significant portion of municipal candidate funding in the Greater Toronto Area came from corporations. In his study of 10 municipalities in the 2006 elections (see chart on page 14), the percentages of disclosed campaign contributions from corporations ran from lows of 12% in Toronto and 22% in Ajax, up to 62% in Richmond Hill, 63% in Vaughan and 77% in Pickering. The lion’s share of contributions came from the development industry, according to Dr. MacDermid.

“Unfortunately, Toronto is the only city in Ontario with the legislative power to directly implement such a ban,” said Larry Gordon, Executive Director of Fair Vote Canada. “Provincial legislation will be required for other municipalities to follow suit.”

Fair Vote Canada will soon be launching a provincial campaign to push for the introduction of a ban on corporate and union campaign contributions in all Ontario provincial elections, replacing it with a per-vote funding formula similar to that used for federal elections. The campaign will also press the provincial government to apply the ban to all municipal elections and encourage municipalities to look at various public funding options already in use by some cities in Ontario and elsewhere.

Fair Vote Canada is a national multi-partisan citizens’ campaign for electoral reform promoting the adoption of fair and proportional voting systems, as well as other measures to help strengthen Canadian democracy.


Larry Gordon, Fair Vote Canada: 647-519-7585

Dr. Robert MacDermid, York University: 647-240-6686

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