Ontario to ban corporate, union donations to council and school board candidates

TORONTO – The Ontario government plans to ban corporate and union donations to municipal politicians.

The Liberals are expected to propose amendments to the Municipal Act at committee today to prohibit companies and unions from donating to local politicians.

The government, which introduced legislation Tuesday to ban corporate and union donations at the provincial level, had said it would be up to municipal councils to decide whether or not to change their own fundraising rules.

But Municipal Affairs Minister Ted McMeekin has told The Canadian Press that the government has heard from a number of individuals and organizations across the province about the proposed Municipal Elections Modernization Act.

McMeekin says the province will ban corporate and union donations to council candidates and would-be school board trustees in all 445 Ontario municipalities.

He says the ban will create an even playing field for all political candidates.

Toronto already bans corporate and union donations during municipal elections, and several other municipal councils, including Ajax and Barrie, have been talking about a similar rule change to reduce the influence of money in local campaigns, especially from developers and home builders.

However, the majority of councillors in Richmond Hill voted against introducing a similar ban and sent the idea back to staff for further study.

Other proposed changes to the Municipal Elections Act would allow towns and cities the option of using ranked ballots in the 2018 elections, and would shorten campaign periods by opening candidate nominations in May instead of January.

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