Transparency in black & white

The Ontario Municipal Elections Act, 1996, S.O. 1996, ch. 32 is meant to maintain electoral fairness and transparency.

To that end, the Act requires candidates to provide, in detail, information about their finances as well as their backers, including names and addresses of both individual and corporate contributors.

When reviewing the expenses reports from both Mayoral candidates in Aurora’s 2014 election there are a few inconsistencies that stand out.

The first is that both Mayoral candidates have over 40 names of campaign donors blacked out.

Dawe has 23 totaling $1675 in donations: http://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Documents/Mayor%20-%20DAWE%2c%20Geoff%20-%202015-03-19.pdf

Gallo has 20 totaling $2,000 in donations: http://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Documents/Mayor%20-%20GALLO%2c%20John%20-%202015-03-26.pdf

Seeking clarification from the town clerk I understand that these were redacted due to the fact that the amounts are under $100 and are not to be included by the candidate in their filings.

Apparently this is a common mistake among candidates but what is different is that Aurora has chosen to redact the names that were submitted because of perceived issues with the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act MFIPPA). Which on its face seems perfectly legit, until one reads what is printed in fine print in the provided forms:

The Municipal Elections Act trumps the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which must be why these 4 municipalities did not see the same need as Aurora to censor details of their candidate’s reports:

Witchurch Stoufville: https://whitchurch.civicweb.net/Documents/DocumentList.aspx?ID=90004

Richmondhill http://www.richmondhill.ca/documents/2014_election_fin_statments_Barrow_Dave.pdf

Georgina http://www.georgina.ca/PDF/elections/financial-statements/Quirk,%20Margaret%20Financials%202014.pdf

East Gwillimbury http://www.eastgwillimbury.ca/Assets/5+2015+Government/0.1+EG+Vote+2014/Hackson+financial+statement.PDF

That’s not the only inconsistency at play here.

When one goes to “see attached” for Tables 1 through 4 of Dawe’s expenses they do not correspond to the tables provided.

Table 1 requires the Full Address to be provided for each single Contributor Totaling more than $100. The attached spreadsheet fails to provide addresses for these donors.

Table 2 requires that Monetary contributions from corporations or unions reflect “full address”, “president or business manager” and “Authorized Representative”. Again the attached spreadsheet provided fails to provide these fields.

Insert WTF? here.

As this requirement is clearly outlined on page 16 of the 2014 Candidates’ Guide for Ontario Municipal and School Board Elections here:

An “Oops, my bad” excuse isn’t going to hold water here, especially considering this is Dawe’s 2nd election.

I took the liberty of comparing Dawe’s 2014 expenses to the ones filed in 2010 and interestingly enough there are no filings of donations under $100.

Also and more importantly the details that are missing in 2014 are reported in 2010.

So there’s a second level of WTF?

From what I can determine Mayor Dawe’s 2014 election expenses are a complete departure from the past election and a clear violation of the Municipal Elections Act.

Not the best example to be setting.

National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden was interviewed recently by HBO’s “Last Week Tonight,” host John Oliver.  He has this to say about transparency:

“There can be no faith in government if our highest offices are excused from scrutiny. They should be setting the example of transparency”

As much as I agree it is not the duty of the Town Clerk to address these issues, there is a compliance audit committee established for this purpose: http://www.aurora.ca/TownHall/Pages/Vote%202014/2014%20Election%20Campaign%20Financial%20Statements/Compliance-Audit-Committee.aspx

The question now is in order to maintain the electoral fairness and transparency outlined in the Municipal Elections Act will it require someone to file an application with this committee?

Or will Mayor Dawe set an example and simply return to his 2010 level of reporting and disclose the details he failed to attach in the open and transparent manner Aurorans expect of their elected officials?

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