Friday, June 29, 2007

Breaking The Developer's Grip on Local Politics

I heard Robert MacDermiad of York University the other night on CBC, talking about a paper he has published recently entitled "Funding Municipal Elections in the Toronto Region". It's major finding: corporations (mostly developers) accounted for between about 30% in Toronto to about 80% in Vaughan of $s raised by the local candidates during the 2003 GTA municipal elections. Although I can't find this point made in the paper itself, according to Mr. Macdermiad these results are actually good news, with corporations accounting for about 10% less of $s raised over the previous municipal ballots.

One of the reasons behind this good news, according to Mr. MacDermiad, is the recent introduction of contribution rebate programs in Toronto and several other of the municipalities under study. The Toronto version is representative of these programs:

The Toronto rebate program, upon application by the contributor, gave back 75% of a
contribution between $25 and $300 plus 50%.of a contribution between $300 and $1000.

The logic: make it easier through a rebate program for individuals (rather than unions or corporations) to contribute to municipal campaigns and you will attract more individuals (rather than developers and etc.) into the political process; attract more individuals, and a larger cash pool available from individuals, and local politicians will have to build broader coalitions, and represent a broader set of interests if they want to win office municipally.

Very interesting read.

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