Donor lists for Calgary mayoral, council candidates released from 2017 civic election

The list of donors to Calgary's mayor and city councillor candidates for the 2017 municipal election was made public on Friday, in accordance with the local elections bylaw.

Councillors spent an average of $192,000 in race

Calgary has released finance documents from the 2017 civic election campaign, including the funds raised and spent by candidates Naheed Nenshi, Andre Chabot and Bill Smith. (CBC)

The list of donors to Calgary's mayor and city councillor candidates for the 2017 municipal election was made public on Friday, in accordance with the local elections bylaw.

Bill Smith raised $916,288 — the largest amount of any mayoral or council candidate — with Mayor Naheed Nenshi coming in second at $649,204.

Former councillor Andre Chabot raised $239,179 in his bid for mayor, less than council candidates Joe Magliocca, Evan Woolley and Sean Chu.

Nenshi's campaign was left with a deficit of $39,501 as of Dec. 31, 2017, and fundraising is ongoing to close that gap, his campaign said in a release.

The release says the disclosure only included donors over $100, but the campaign had previously disclosed all donations of more than $1 in October. 

"In addition to the 750 names on this list, we had over 1,000 donors under $100, which we believe to be a record. This campaign was always about the grassroots — about real Calgarians — not about the desires of big special interests," said the release.

Notable donors to Smith and Nenshi include philanthropists, developers

Homebuilder Cal Wenzel's wife Edith and son Shane both donated $5,000 to Smith's campaign in 2017.

Nenshi was sued by Wenzel for defamation over comments made in the 2013 civic election. Nenshi had insinuated on CBC Radio that the developer had broken election laws. The battle ended in an out-of-court settlement. 

Nenshi's lawyer in the suit, Munaf Mohamed, donated $1,000 to the mayor's campaign last year.

Other notable donors to Nenshi's campaign included businessman and philanthropist Richard Haskayne, arts philanthropist Mary Rosza de Coquet and real-estate mogul Riaz Mamdani, who recovered after being shot six times outside his Mount Royal mansion in 2016. All three donated $5,000 in 2017.

Topping Smith's list were a number of real estate developers with $5,000 donations, including Brookfield Residential, Calbridge Homes, Heritage Pointe Properties and Homes by Avi.

Brookfield also donated $5,000 to Nenshi's campaign.

PetroGas Energy Corp. donated $5,000 to Smith, and the company's COO David Storoshenko donated an additional $1,000. 

Candidates can accept a maximum of $5,000 per year from each donor, but there's no cap on the amount they can spend.

The Alberta government has said it's looking at modifying the laws that govern municipal elections. 

Calgary councillors raised average of $192,995

The city's councillors raised an average of $193,000, and spent an average of $192,000 — up from the average of $134,000 winning candidates spent in the 2013 civic election. 

That money is spent on advertising and staff, among other campaign expenses. 

Ward 2 Coun. Joe Magliocca both raised and spent the most, with total revenues and expenses on his campaign totalling exactly $343,203 .

Ward 4 Coun. Sean Chu was the only councillor to end the race with a deficit, spending $22,706 more than the $254,998 he raised. 

The only ward where a winning candidate spent less than a competitor was Ward 6, where Sean Yost outspent Jeff Davison's $115,605 by $3,225 — and ended in Yost running up a nearly $13,000 deficit.

The Local Authorities Election Act stipulates that surplus funds raised are released to candidates once they file nomination forms to run in the next election, scheduled for 2021. Candidates who choose to not run again must either donate the funds to the city or a charity of their choice.

Former Coun. Richard Pootmans raised $113,235 before he announced in April 2017 that he wouldn't seek re-election. His surplus of $91,488 will be donated to charity. 

The city said all of the candidate disclosure documents will be be made available online at Calgary.ca/elections early next week. 

With files from Scott Dippel, Robson Fletcher