>> The Board of Directors of the Ontario Public Interest Research Group (OPIRG) at McMaster University wish to express our support of [the Citizens at City Hall – CATCH) campaign for more democracy at Hamilton City Hall. We agree that a fair election financing policy would be a positive step forward not only for Hamilton but for all communities.
>> OPIRG McMaster is a grassroots student funded/student directed organization that addesses issues of human rights, the environment and social justice by linking research with aciton.
>> Yours truly,
OPIRG McMaster Board of Directors
[The original call from CATCH]
Fair Election Financing Now – a Campaign for More Democracy at Hamilton City Hall
Citizens at City Hall (CATCH) urges voters and candidates to take steps now to make the November 13 city council election more democratic, fair and transparent. Despite promises to do so, the provincial government has failed to amend the deeply flawed legislation on donations to municipal candidates. That leaves the task to the candidates and the voters to make this election fairer.
CATCH calls on ALL city council candidates:
- To make public a list of your donors and donations over $100 before the November 13 elections;
- To accept campaign donations only from individuals, not from corporations or unions.
- If you do accept corporate or union contributions, to make a public promise before the election to not participate in decisions that come before council that financially benefit your corporate or union donors.
CATCH calls on ALL citizens in Hamilton:
- To make donations to council candidates and to actively participate in the election campaign in support of the candidates of your choice;
- To vote and to actively encourage others to vote in the November 13 election;
- To ask all candidates to support the campaign for Fair Election Financing Now.
CATCH calls on all organizations, voters and candidates:
- To endorse and publicize the above calls;
- To urge provincial politicians to reform the laws on municipal election financing.
Governments are elected to represent citizens and the public interest. CATCH believes that corporate and union donations distort this process and deny the principle that each voter has an equal opportunity to support the candidates of his or her choice. When corporate or union donations are permitted, some individuals can unfairly make multiple donations – as individuals and also as business owners or union members. Many of the corporate donations are written off as business expenses and force taxpayers to cover part of the donation.
In addition, many corporations and unions ask city government to make decisions that benefit them financially. Politicians who receive donations from corporations or unions should not participate in government decisions that affect their corporate or union donors.
Many others have called for real reforms to election finances, including Toronto city council, the Federation of Urban Neighbourhoods, the Hamilton and District Labour Council, and the Toronto Star. We think improvements are possible now, without waiting for the province to do its job, and we are willing to help.
To help candidates, CATCH is prepared to assist candidates to make their donations and donors public before the election. We are offering to post their lists our website or to provide a link to another location of these lists. We ask candidates to provide these three times before election day – September 15, October 15 and November 10.
Provincial law currently requires candidates to reveal publicly a list of all donors who give them more than $100. Unfortunately, this is not required until four months AFTER the election. In the United States, candidates must reveal who their donors are BEFORE the election, so that this information is available to the voters when they cast their vote. CATCH thinks that citizens should help finance the election campaigns of the candidates of their choice. If you are concerned about corporate and union influence over politicians, an excellent response is to financially support good candidates, and to volunteer to work on their campaigns. We urge you to vote on election day, and to popularize the CATCH campaign for Fair Election Financing Now.
CATCH (Citizens at City Hall) is a volunteer community group that promotes civic involvement and democracy in Hamilton. Our news updates use transcripts and/or public documents to highlight information about Hamilton civic affairs that is not generally available in the mass media. Detailed reports of City Hall meetings can be reviewed at