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Council approves changes to election finance bylaw
St. John’s city council approved changes to election finance rules on Monday, which now brings into effect several changes that were discussed earlier this year.
Some of those changes include:
• For the 2021 municipal election, a cap on corporate and union donations to 50 per cent of the total allowable contributions.
• For the 2025 election, corporate and union donations will be prohibited.
• A reduction in the limit for a financial contribution to be considered a donation, and therefore require disclosure, from $250 to $100.
• Reduction in expenditure caps for each candidate.
• Reduction in the timeline for disclosure of campaign contributions from the current 90 days after the election to 30 days.
• A reduction in corporate and trade union donations from $2,000 to $1,000 as is currently permitted from individuals. This will mean any individual, corporation or union can donate up to a maximum of $1,000.
• Contributions will only be permitted within the calendar year of an election, as opposed to any previous year in a term.
• Disclosure of campaign expenditures will be required.
“What these (changes) are intended to do is level the playing field to enable and encourage diversity in this chamber, and in our elections,” Coun. Ian Froude said during the regular Monday council meeting.
Froude said these changes also increase transparency and reduce the advantage of incumbent candidates.
Mayor Danny Breen said he supports the changes, and most governments are moving in the direction of eliminating corporate contributions.
The amendments to the election finance bylaw passed with a 10-1 vote.
Coun. Sandy Hickman voted against the changes, explaining he believes the changes will mean campaigns will have to be more personally financed than in the past, because candidates will have only their friends to support them.
Juanita Mercer is the municipal reporter for The Telegram