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Key Vote: Election Finance Reform

At the City Council debate on election finance reform, Councillor Cliff Jenkins read out an excerpt from a Toronto Star editorial on this topic. "When politicians face a difficult issue especially one that may cost them money or influence they're tempted to delay ... and delay ... and delay. That mustn't happen when Mayor David Miller and city council consider landmark election reforms this week. Fairness, and the public interest, demand a strong and speedy vote for changes to fix a badly flawed system."

However, rather than voting on the proposed election finance reforms, City Council approved a motion by Councillor Howard Moscoe to avoid facing the issue for two more months by referring the issue for staff reports at the Policy and Finance Committee, and then bringing the issue back to City Council at a future session. Mayor Miller added an amendment ensuring that the issue return to both Policy & Finance Committee and City Council at their September 2004 sessions, scheduled for September 15 and 28, respectively.

Councillor Moscoe argued that justification for the referral was that election finance deals with Policy and Finance Issues, despite Council's original request for the Administration Committee to deal with the issue. Other councillors wanted reports from city staff, despite statements from the head of Toronto Elections that the majority of these issues are political decisions to be decided by council.

Rather than helping to receive more input, the referral is clearly a delay tactic by councillors who want to avoid facing reforms. In the process, they may be endangering the enactment of any reforms in time for the next municipal election in 2006, should they be approved. According to Toronto Elections, the provincial government requires 12-18 months to make changes to the municipal elections legislation, so the delay may institute the reforms too late for the 2006 election. Fundraising for the election can begin in January 2006, so any legislative changes must be approved before that time.

Vote Essentials:
That council delay voting on the Election Finance Reform motions by referring them to the Policy and Finance Committee for staff report (on September 15, 2004), and City Council on September 28, 2004.

Voting FOR the referral to the Policy and Finance Committee: 19
Altobello, Bussin, Carroll, Cowbourne, Di Giorgio, Feldman, Filion, Grimes, Hall, Kelly, Li Preti, Lindsay Luby, Minnan-Wong, Moscoe, Pantalone, Rae, Saundercook, Shiner, Thompson

Voting AGAINST a referral to the Policy and Finance Committee: 17
Chow, Davis, De Baeremaeker, Del Grande, Ford, Giambrone, Holyday, Jenkins, Mihevc, Milczyn, Miller, Nunziata, Ootes, Pitfield, Stintz, Walker, Watson

Vote Date: July 21, 2004

For more information, see the City Council Minutes. (PDF file opens in a new window)