Municipal campaign spending rules may be coming

There are no current limits on municipal campaign spending or disclosure requirements in New Brunswick, but changes could be coming.

No current spending limit or disclosure requirement

Outgoing Saint John mayor Ivan Court has alleged a group of undisclosed donors bought Mel Norton’s mayoral victory in Monday's municipal election.

But there are currently no limits on municipal campaign spending in New Brunswick and no requirements to report where campaign donations come from, said chief electoral officer Mike Quinn.

Changes could be coming, however.

The City of Moncton passed a motion last fall recommending the Cities of New Brunswick and the Association or Francophone Municipalities take the issue of campaign spending and disclosure to the Department of Local Government.

That's expected to happen at roundtable meetings scheduled for June.

To date, there hasn't been much demand for spending and disclosure controls at the municipal level, said Quinn.

"I don't know what the reason would be. It just hasn't been done," he said.

"For us at Elections New Brunswick, we simply administer the laws as they are."

Federal and provincial election laws have strict rules on disclosing campaign contributors and how much can be spent during the race.

But the same rules do not apply to municipal campaigns.

Moncton Coun. Daniel Bourgeois contends most other provinces do have controls and he hopes New Brunswick will follow suit.

"We don't declare, we don't have to declare, we're not asked to declare. There's no list. You could have little brown envelopes."

Moncton council has recommended both spending caps and rules requiring that the names of donors be disclosed.