A report on campaign financing in the last municipal election in 2014 shows that candidates for Newmarket Council collectively raised more money than candidates in any of the twelve other municipal contests in the study area.
Newmarket's 29 candidates raised an eye-watering $277,947 between them in contributions. Aurora’s 30 candidates raised $177,670. Turnout was 36.8% and 35.7% respectively.
The study by Campaign Fairness and York University professor, Robert MacDermid, analysed 13 municipalities within or straddling the Lake Simcoe watershed boundary: Aurora, Barrie, Brock, Bradford West Gwillimbury, East Gwillimbury, Georgina, Innisfil, King, Newmarket, Orilla, Oro-Medonte, Ramara, and Whitchurch-Stouffville.
The study concludes that developers' contributions can influence the outcome of elections.
Professor MacDermid argues for a level playing field for all candidates running for election – and we don’t have that at the moment. He says:
“Our research found that candidate self-funding is up, compared to previous years, perhaps in response to public pressure not to accept corporate money. But when campaign self-funding is removed, corporate money represents more than half (53%) of the 2014 contribution totals, more than individual citizens’ donations. The problem is that corporate funded candidates are more likely to win, and that’s not fair.”
Of the $277,947 raised by candidates in Newmarket almost half (49%) came out of the candidates’ own pockets – the balance coming from (a) the development industry (b) other corporations and (c) individuals. Contributors included Magna International, Stronach Consulting, Pfaff Motors and Newmarket Honda.
According to the Era newspaper, the highest spenders in Newmarket won the most seats.
The development industry contributed $14,550 to candidates’ election campaigns in Newmarket, far short of the $78,854 paid over to candidates in Whitchurch-Stouffville. No candidate in Newmarket took money from unions.
Overall, across the 13 municipalities, unions contributed $7,750 compared to the development industry’s $256,269.
Candidates’ contributions to their own campaigns totalled a hefty $801,179.
Campaign Fairness wants a ban on corporate and union contributions to municipal elections and encourage support from individuals through contribution rebate programs. They also want to limit contributions from any one person to $3,000 total for any number of candidates in the same municipality.
Money from the development industry in particular comes at a very high price.
The Era newspaper looked at the total campaign income collected by each of the winners from Newmarket’s 2014 municipal election, compared to their highest spending opponents:
Mayor Tony Van Bynen - $49,294.48
Chris Campbell (runner-up) - $9,767.03
Regional Councillor John Taylor - $57,737.18
Darryl Wolk (runner-up) - $20,089.63
Councillor Ward 1 Tom Vegh - $8,919
Wasim Jarrah (runner-up) - $9,530
Councillor Ward 2 Dave Kerwin - $8,937
Judy Poulin (runner-up) - $8,448.96
Councillor Ward 3 Jane Twinney - $9,715
Victor Woodhouse (runner-up) - $9,729.63
Councillor Ward 4 Tom Hempen - $250
Ray Luff (runner-up) - Did not file by deadline
Councillor Ward 5 Joe Sponga - $1,300
John Heckbert (runner-up) - $6,448.12
Councillor Ward 6 Kelly Broome-Plumley - $15,827.70
Maddie Di Muccio (runner-up) - $3,500
Councillor Ward 7 Christina Bisanz - $7,392.28
John Blommesteyn (finished third) - $4,010
— source: newmarket.ca