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Q&A on Campaign Surpluses

Why should campaign surpluses be returned to the city, rather than being carried over to future campaigns?

Under the current system, candidates can carry over any unspent campaign funds to future elections. This gives most incumbents a huge head start over new candidates, on top of the other advantages that they enjoy as incumbents.

In the 2003 election, the median surplus for elected councillors was $10,103, with one councillor reporting a surplus of $50,905 for their next election campaign. In 2000, 23 of 44 councillors reported a surplus of more than $10,000. One councillor had a surplus of $68,722. Five councillors in 2003 had surpluses that were large enough to fund an additional campaign or more, based on the maximum expense limits set out by the Municipal Elections Act (which were an average of $31,251).

Incumbents already have a major advantage over new candidates, through their record in office, name recognition, their contacts, and campaign experience. Do they really also need this huge head start in fundraising as well?

For more information, read a September 2003 Globe and Mail article about campaign surpluses and the difficulty for new candidates to get elected. The link will open in a new window.

Q&A; on Corporate Donations
Q&A; on Limiting Fundraising Expenses