Calgary’s election hijinks continue

by Jack Locke

Calgarians beware: Someone at City Hall is not your friend.

Shortly after Lockeblog downloaded a list of the 2007 Calgary municipal election candidate disclosure forms from the city’s election website, the link allowing access to this information vanished. Yes, vanished.

This information requirement is imposed upon candidates to preserve a modicum of integrity in the electoral process.

The disclosure forms show the financial spending and revenue collected by candidates who ran for office. Most importantly perhaps, it shows the surpluses that candidates hold onto following the election. The surpluses show the financial advantage that career politicians hold over newcomers, or a surplus a candidate may hold onto.

Diane Colley-Urquhart enters election 2010 with a whopper of a bank account.

For example, city councillors Diane Colley-Urquhart and Druh Farrell showed surpluses from the 2007 election of $98,371.32 and $48,630.40 respectively. The surpluses could be used over the past three years for virtually any purpose. There are no restrictions placed on these surpluses. Or the money can be used in the current campaign.

The provincial Local Authorities Elections Act proposes that these surpluses are to be held in trust by the municipality to ensure the funds are not inappropriately appropriated. However, the provincial law’s implementation has been intentionally delayed and will only come into force in 2011 and can only be applied to candidates after the 2013 municipal election.

“Sections 147.5(the section dealing with surpluses,) 147.6, 147.7(2) and (3) and 147.91(b) apply to campaign funds on or after December 1, 2011,” reads the provincial law which was passed earlier this year.

Therefore, the surpluses disclosed after the 2007 municipal election may not be present at all. In the case of Mayor David Bronconnier, his $316,052 surplus need not be legally accounted for. The same held for Bronconnier’s predecessor Al Duerr who also accumulated significant surpluses. If the provincial law was in force today, since Mayor Bronconnier is not running for office, his $316,052 surplus would have had to be donated to charity or turned over to the municipality. As it stands, no law stops him from pocketing the surplus.

Until 2013, there will be no realistic accountability for monies raised by municipal candidates.

Kent Hehr challenged other candidates to open their books. Candidate McIver had an $87,581.51 surplus after the 2007 election.

Recently, mayoralty candidate Kent Hehr challenged other candidates to disclose their current level and contributors of donations. To date, candidate Richard(Ric) McIver has not disclosed his donations. Hehr, on the other hand, declared that he has raised $79,990 since he entered the mayoralty campaign.

According to councillor McIver’s 2007 disclosure form, he had a surplus following the last election of $87,581.51. Similarly, councillor Bob Hawkesworth was left with a $36,011 surplus following the 2007 campaign. Defeated aldermanic candidate Craig Burrows showed a surplus of $28,117.75.

"I believe in leading and running government like a business," says candidate Joe Connelly, whose last election campaign ended $17,000 in the hole.

Curiously, the mayoralty candidate who is touted as wanting to run City Hall like a business, councillor Joseph(Joe) Connelly, showed a loss of $17,355 following the 2007 election. His disclosure form does not indicate how this loss was paid for, whether it came out of his own pocket or whether it was paid by a generous contributor. It’s a clear sign that the election disclosure rules are woefully inadequate.

Despite these glaring shortfalls in the financial monitoring of election contributions, the question that still must be answered is: What happened to the 2007 candidate disclosure information link that was removed from the City’s website, and why?

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One Response to “Calgary’s election hijinks continue”

  1. Lawrence A. Oshanek Says:

    There will be no problem with this candidate …. I am not soliciting nor will I accept campaign “donations” … if the people of Calgary wish to elect upon who can raise the most money to run, then they will get the mayor they deserve.

    The ‘disappearing act’ was very likely deliberate by someone gaining co-operation from within or from being hacked by people with those kinds of skills but in any event, Barbra Clifford should be notified as I am convinced of her honesty.

    The broader issue of accountability is one which has to be addressed by the Legislature as the city does have some power to govern, but not enough.

    This election requires that a specific bank account be opened for tracing of expenses …. we shall see how candidates deal with that … regrettably, now only after the event.

    Lawrence A. Oshanek
    Candidate for Mayor

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