The Chatham-Kent municipal election audit committee has recommended no action be taken against a local resident who unwittingly exceeded the $5,000 limit for individual contributions in last October’s municipal election.
Reginald MacDonald donated a total of $6,300 to six candidates, exceeding the limit by $1,300. MacDonald contributed $1,200 each to Michael Bondy, Darrin Canniff, Don Fuoco and Doug Sulman. He donated $1,000 to Alysson Storey and $500 to Frank Vercouteren.
The committee wrote in its decision: “That after reviewing the report from the Clerk of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent, hearing oral submissions from the Contributor and considering appropriate provisions of the Municipal Elections Act, 1996, it is the decision of the Compliance Audit Committee (Committee) that the Contributor contravened the contribution limits of $5,000 to two or more candidates for office of the same municipal council during the 2018 Municipality of Chatham-Kent Municipal Election as set out in section 88.34 of the Act. Based on the documentation and submissions before the Committee, the Committee finds the contravention not to be relatively significant, with the Contributor acting in good faith with no direct intention to contravene the Act and therefore commencement of a legal proceeding against the Contributor for the contravention is not warranted.”
Among the reasons for its decision is that: “The Committee has taken into consideration that the intention of the Province of Ontario was to ensure there would be contribution limits applied to those contributing to candidates beginning with the 2018 Municipal Election. However, the Act and guidelines, while clearly stating the contribution limits, are primarily candidate and voter focused. In fact, it is the candidate, under section 88.22(1)(r) of the Act who is to ensure that each contributor is informed of the contribution limits, and the guidelines suggest that this might be accomplished, for example, by issuing annotated receipts.”
Further, “The Committee is satisfied that media and other publicity with respect to its meetings and deliberations will serve to increase awareness of the contribution limits, will have a deterrent effect, and will lead to the refinement of future election practices relating to contributors and, in particular, the aggregate contribution limit. With respect to increasing public awareness of this provision of the legislation, the Committee encourages the Clerk of the Municipality of Chatham-Kent to develop media releases and digital notifications for future municipal council elections.”