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.
– 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
(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!