Tuesday, May 31, 2016


I have reviewed both the Woolwich Staff report to Council describing the proposed changes to the Municipal Elections Act (MEA) as well as the ten Recommendations sent in to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs by local citizen Richard Clausi. They are as different as night and day. Richard's Recommendations focus on the enforcement of the MEA as currently written with specific references to failures by Clerks, candidates and MECAC and hence improvements in those areas. The Staff Report covers a wider area with some emphasis upon changes to the MEA which they view as a positive step forward for election administrators.

This is typical provincial legislation in that the public were sold a bill of goods in that these proposed changes would make elections more honest and transparent. They were supposed to reduce opportunities for either outright cheating regarding election financing or at least to close loopholes through which unscrupulous candidates could drive trucks through. That has not happened. Instead there have been some superficial "fixing" of some areas while actually allowing more wiggle room and stickhandlng by candidates so inclined to do so.

Regarding brazen and outrageous behaviour/negligence by half our local Council there appears to be no tightening of enforcement whatsoever. In fact there has been a loosening according to the descriptions by Staff in their Report. No longer is a reasonable filing deadline months after the election mandatory. For a $500 fee candidates can get a 30 day extension beyond the deadline. Also candidates who file prior to the deadline are then allowed to make changes to their Financial Statements as they see fit.

The good old boy partisan appointments to MECAC by local municipal Clerks seem not to have changed. MECAC decisions, no matter how contrary to the MEA will remain effectively unchallenged except by those with more money than ethics. Prosecutions for contraventions will effectively be monopolized by Council complaints to the judicial authorities versus citizen complaints. Councils will take runs at the likes of Todd Cowan for example while ignoring lawbreaking by do not rock the boat, deeply embedded local luminaries.

Staff are in full support of this Bill 181. It puts no further onus on candidates to fully and voluntarily or otherwise follow the MEA regarding election financing and reporting. It does make a number of administrative changes that Staff feel will make their lives easier, hence they support it. These are not adequate grounds for Council to accept or endorse this Staff Report. Perhaps one of the most outrageous "reforms" is giving municipalities the option to ban corporate and union donations to candidates. This will ensure that half the province do not allow corporate and union donations while the other half do. What the hell kind of legislation is that? If there is a problem with corporate and union donations to municipal candidates than the province should outright ban them. Leaving it up to local Councils to do so or not simply guarantees inconsistency throughout Onatrio and these potential donors will be prosecuted in one jurisdiction for identical acts that are legal literally next door. Ridiculous!

No comments:

Post a Comment