Unions and corporations make priceless campaign contributions!

Volunteers from unions and corporations are priceless! For everything else there is Mastercard!

“Secondment” = the temporary transfer of an official or worker to another position or employment: he spent two years on secondment to the Department of Industry

City of Toronto by-law 1177-2009 prohibits unions and corporations from making “contributions” to an election campaign.

Section 66 of the Ontario Municipal Elections Act:

– defines money, goods and services as a contribution; and

– deems the value of services provided by an employee to a campaign to NOT be a “contribution” provided that the employee works under the direction of the  candidate and does not receive pay over and above what he would have received as an employee in any event.

“Election Campaign Finances

Contributions

66.(1)For the purposes of this Act, money, goods and services given to and accepted by or on behalf of a person for his or her election campaign are contributions. 1996, c. 32, Sched., s. 66 (1).

Additional rules

(2)Without restricting the generality of subsection (1), the following rules apply in determining whether an amount is a contribution:

2. The following amounts are not contributions:

i. the value of services provided by voluntary unpaid labour,

ii. the value of services provided voluntarily, under the person’s direction, by an employee whose compensation from all sources for providing them does not exceed the compensation the employee would normally receive for the period the services are provided,”

S. 66 of the Municipal Elections Act allows corporations and unions to give something far more valuable than money. To be specific unions or corporations are able to simply ask a paid employee to work for a political candidate. Let’s look at an example. Imagine John Smith has a full-time job working for a union. The union then says: your job description as just changed. Your job is not to work on the political campaign for candidate X who we would like to support. The current rules allow unions to do this. The NDP has been particularly active in Toronto elections.

In fact, Natalie Alcoba writing in the National Post noted that:

“During the 2003 election, David Miller’s campaign benefited from the help of union workers, including Andrea Addario, a press attache for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who confirmed yesterday that she was paid her regular salary by the union while being seconded to Mr. Miller’s team. After his victory, she became a city employee as the mayor’s spokeswoman.

Lawyers are also believed to have worked on campaigns while cashing their regular paycheque.

A Toronto resident who has volunteered on numerous municipal campaigns said “bodies are lent” by a union or company to staff offices, put up signs, or deliver people to the polls. “We get these bodies, but no one on the campaign asks are they being paid? It’s generally understood that the union is paying them,” said the volunteer, who asked not to be identified.”

“It’s not transparent and clearly the reason contribution limits are there in the first place is so that there won’t be actual or the appearance of undue influence at City Hall. If a union lends you bodies, what kind of favours do you owe them?” the volunteer asked.”

The NDP campaigns hard for its candidates and was clearly influential in getting David Miller elected as mayor!

One of the first things that the new City Council should do is ask the Ontario Government to amend the Municipal Elections Act to disallow this obvious unfairness. As it stands, those candidates with union and corporate backing still are allowed a huge advantage under the law! Independent candidates are running against voter apathy and against the well oiled machines of corporations and the NDP.

On October 25, 2010 please get out and vote!

______________________________________________

Listen to a podcast Natalie Alcoba of the National Post talks about the problem of secondment in in the Toronto election.

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5 thoughts on “Unions and corporations make priceless campaign contributions!

  1. votejohnrichardson Post author

    Here is the Alcoba article in the National Post:

    Natalie Alcoba, National Post · Thursday, Jul. 15, 2010

    ‘Major loophole’ in vote rules

    Candidates in the Toronto municipal election stand to benefit from a loophole in campaign financing regulations that allow unions or corporations to second workers to a team — without a cent showing up on their books.

    Toronto has banned unions and corporations from contributing money, goods or services to a municipal candidate. However, “the value of services provided voluntarily by employees of an entity” is not considered a contribution, “as long as they do not receive extra compensation from their employer,” according to a description of the rules on the Toronto Election Services website.

    That means someone can draw a normal salary from his or her employer while working full time on an election campaign, confirms Bonita Pietrangelo, acting director of elections and registry services.

    In an email response, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing said: “The Municipal Elections Act does not address whether an employee can or cannot draw their regular salary while volunteering on a campaign. Whether an employee working on a campaign can continue to draw their regular salary is a matter to be determined by the employee and the employer.”

    Councillor Cliff Jenkins called it “a major loophole” in the law. Councillor Michael Walker, who pushed for the financing reforms along with Mr. Jenkins and Councillor Chin Lee, said he knew about the loophole. “When someone is making $1,000 a week and are being seconded to a campaign, that’s just not kosher and it shouldn’t be allowed,” said. “We just couldn’t deal with it in the first round.”

    During the 2003 election, David Miller’s campaign benefited from the help of union workers, including Andrea Addario, a press attache for the Canadian Union of Public Employees, who confirmed yesterday that she was paid her regular salary by the union while being seconded to Mr. Miller’s team. After his victory, she became a city employee as the mayor’s spokeswoman.

    Lawyers are also believed to have worked on campaigns while cashing their regular paycheque.

    A Toronto resident who has volunteered on numerous municipal campaigns said “bodies are lent” by a union or company to staff offices, put up signs, or deliver people to the polls. “We get these bodies, but no one on the campaign asks are they being paid? It’s generally understood that the union is paying them,” said the volunteer, who asked not to be identified.

    “It’s not transparent and clearly the reason contribution limits are there in the first place is so that there won’t be actual or the appearance of undue influence at City Hall. If a union lends you bodies, what kind of favours do you owe them?” the volunteer asked.

    In this year’s election, the mayoral campaigns of George Smitherman, Rob Ford, Joe Pantalone, Rocco Rossi and Sarah Thomson report no secondments to their respective teams.

    “That’s not happening on our campaign,” said Stefan Baranski, a spokesman for Mr. Smitherman. “We have people from all walks of life volunteering for us, banks, organized labour, all across the board, people from every sector in Toronto, but they all do so on a strictly volunteer basis.”

    Mr. Pantalone’s campaign, which recently welcomed the endorsement of the huge Toronto York Labour Council (which represents 140,000 workers in Toronto), did not discount the possibility of secondments in the future.

    “There are no arrangements for secondments at this point. We do expect a growing number of volunteers as the campaign goes on. We can expect many of them to coincidentally be involved in unions, since Joe has strong support among labour in both the private and public sectors. But we expect many others as well, and we’ll welcome any volunteer, regardless of who they work for: union, bank, or bakery,” Mike Smith, a spokesman for the Pantalone bid, wrote in an email response.

    “As for secondments, election laws make the same allowances and restrictions for both corporations and unions, and we are always open to secondments as long as their employer abides by those laws.”

    nalcoba@nationalpost.com

    Read more: http://www.nationalpost.com/Major+loophole+vote+rules/3279419/story.html#ixzz0tnYNOKrO

    Reply
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