Calgary

Municipal candidates can spend limitless amount on own campaigns

Though new rules were brought in to limit campaign spending by candidates in the 2010 municipal election, one outlet could render them all moot.

Would-be aldermen, mayors can run deficits, then use their own cash to cover the debt

Though new rules were brought in to limit campaign spending by candidates in the 2010 municipal election, one outlet could render them all moot.

Some Calgarians are crying foul over an apparent loophole, which allows those running for aldermen or mayor to spend as much money as they want on their own campaign.

There is a $10,000 limit. But if campaigns run a deficit, candidates can use their own cash to cover the debt.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi says the legislation needs to be fixed.

"This is probably the single biggest loophole in the campaign finance regimen in Alberta, which is riddled with loopholes."

It means the playing field still isn’t even for all candidates, says Nenshi.

"In reality, if you were a very wealthy person and you wanted to spend a million dollars on your campaign, theoretically you could have a $990,000 deficit that you then pay out of your own pockets later."

The city's returning officer Barb Clifford says she is aware of the situation and has asked the province for clarification on the rules.

For their part, provincial officials aren't denying that there is a gap in the rules.

A spokesperson with Alberta Municipal Affairs says the provincial Election Act does not directly address what happens when a campaign runs a deficit.