Posted April 20, 2015
The interesting part is who gave money to whom? Delving into the names and numbers, it is apparent the great political divide in Guelph is not necessarily driven by ideology but by influence and money.
The record shows that a number of corporations and individuals donated not only to the former mayor’s campaign, but also to individual councillor’s campaigns who were Farbridge supporters.
In this election, those who supported the mayor lost big-time. That was then and this is now.
For some time, guelphspeaks.ca has been investigating how the Guelph and District Labour Council spent a lot of time, organizational and financial support to ensure the former mayor and friendly councillors were re-elected.
The official financial reports of former Mayor Farbridg’s campaign spending. states she spent some $80,217.63 to be un-elected.
Her opponent. Mayor Cam Guthrie spent close to $90,000 to win the election. Some of his donors hedged their bets and also donated to the Farbridge campaign.
The most interesting campaign was in ward three, where incumbent June Hofland won by just five votes. The interesting part is the source of the money she received funding her campaign and when it was received.
Let’s take a look.
Of the nine donors to June Hofland’s campaign who spent more than $100, five also donated to the mayor’s campaign. Not chump change but big bucks. Four people donated $2,000, plus another $250 from Fusion Homes through an individual named Pamela Kraft. That was a total of $2,700 out of $3,580 or 75.41 per cent of her total campaign spending. There was $550 in donations from those who donated under the limit of $100.
How can the financial support of just nine donors re-elect a member of council? Even more concerning is that five donated $2,250 of the $2,700 total to keep June Hofland on council. And Ms. Hofland found $250 to donate to the Farbridge campaign.
Here is something to think about. Why would Susan Watson donate $500 to Hofland’s campaign and $750 to the Farbridge campaign? Her husband, Ian Digby, matched her donation of $1,250.
And Susan Watson is the same person who is challenging the right of GrassRoots Guelph to donate to a GRG candidate who was defeated in the 2014 civic election. He acknowledged receiving $400 from GRG in his campaign financial report. Ms. Watson has filed a complaint to the election compliance committee about the right of GRG to donate, participate or recommend municipal candidates.
What a pathetic attempt to discredit a legitimate organization composed of ordinary citizens. The Ontario Municipal Elections Act does not prohibit participation of third party organizations in municipal elections.
This Watson attempt to convince the compliance committee to rule on the legitimacy of GRG. is misguided. Depending on the ruling of the committee on May 6, it could result in a barrage of objection including the Canada Charter of Rights, the Ontario Civil Rights commission and the Ontario Ombudsman’s Office.
Wait! It gets better.
Let’s look at ward three Councillor Phil Allt’s campaign financial support. Allt, a former New Democratic candidate for the Ontario Legislature, spent $6,319,97 to win the election.
His donation pattern shows that he collected $1,230 in under $100 donations but collected $4.583.16 in donations exceeding $100. Of that, one sticks out: Alan Filwod of Kitchener, who donated $750.
Professor Filwod is a teacher at the University of Guelph. He does not live in Guelph but is a resident of Kitchener. Now why would Mr. Filwod spend $750 to elect a city councillor in Guelph when he isn’t a taxpayer here? Or, why would Geoff Ondercin-Bourne who lives in Ancaster, Ontario, and teaches at Mohawk College, donate $400 to Mr. Allt’s ward three campaign in Guelph?
The most charitable explanation is that they are either New Democratic Party members, political allies and/or supporters of labour. They certainly were not on GRG’s membership list.
Assuming that is true, what’s the difference between the energy and efforts of residents of Guelph advocating a change of government, than the support by the Guelph and District Labour Council given to mayor Farbridge and her supporting cast of candidates?
The alleged use of surrogates to distribute funds anonymously is worse than any U.S. Style “super PACs” as has been described by Ms Watson’s lawyer, Ian Flett. He compared GRG with U.S. Super PACS and a threat to democracy. Such political action vehicles are not permitted in Canada.
What is needed is proof of the source of funds donated by individuals and corporations.
The underlying threat to citizens is the enormous grip and control of our city government by the civic unions. Some 80 per cent of all employees are unionized and they have a lot at stake to maintain their lifestyle and working conditions.
The bottom line is they want to work in the shadows supporting favoured candidates. That is to ensure election of those favouring control the council.
Because the campaign financial reports do not list affiliation and sources of the donors’ donations, whether or not they are city employees, union members or surrogates to distribute funds.
Electors in ward three should challenge Hofland and Allt to reveal the sources of money given to them. This includes Susan Watson and Ian Digby’s $1,000 gift to June Hofland’s campaign.
If interested in examining the candidates’ financial reports, here’s how: Go to Guelph.ca; in the search box located on the upper right of the screen, type in “municipal elections” and press enter. When the screen comes up click on the line under the heading that says “More on municipal elections”. This will take you to the list of candidates, the number of votes each received and their financial statements.