New Brunswick

Without rules, municipal candidates must decide whether to reveal donors

The upcoming municipal election will be another without any rules around campaign contributions, spending limits or disclosure on who provided candidates with funding. That leaves it to individual candidates to decide what to reveal.

Province has no rules around municipal campaign spending, disclosure of donors

With no rules around campaign financing, the candidates in the race for Moncton council's top job will have to decide whether to proactively declare donations. (Shane Magee/CBC)

The upcoming municipal election will be another without any rules around campaign contributions, spending limits or disclosure on who provided candidates with funding.

Candidates in federal and provincial elections must follow rules around contribution limits and disclosure of donors, but there are no similar rules for municipal elections. 

While the previous Liberal provincial government announced it would put rules in place, the Progressive Conservative government that took power in the fall of 2018 has not implemented the regulations necessary for the May 11 vote.

"At this point, it's too late for Elections New Brunswick to be able to implement financing rules for the municipal election," Kim Poffenroth, the chief electoral officer with Elections NB, said Tuesday.

That leaves it to individual candidates to decide whether to disclose information. The first two candidates to declare in the province's largest city say they're not going to publicly reveal who is funding their campaign.

Chad Peters, who announced Tuesday he's running to be Moncton's mayor, says he won't disclose who contributed to his campaign. (Shane Magee/CBC News file photo)

Chad Peters announced Tuesday before a crowd of about 60 people at the Delta Beausejour that he's running to be Moncton's mayor.

In September, he told CBC News he had yet to collect any donations. He said he believed changes to rules were necessary to increase transparency. 

"While I don't have anything specific to say on that yet, I can say that I'm encouraging my team that my desire is to have a transparent campaign where there are disclosures consistent with what's going on at other levels of government," Peters said. 

Asked if that would mean proactively disclosing who provided funds to his campaign, he said "yes." 

On Tuesday, however, he said the information won't be released. 

Erik Gingles is among those running to be mayor of Moncton in the May 2020 municipal election. (Shane Magee/CBC)

"I'm going to make sure that this campaign is run clean," Peters told reporters. "But we won't be disclosing anything as I believe other candidates have indicated as well."

Erik Gingles confirmed his run for the mayor's seat on Monday. In an interview, he said he won't release information about donations after discussing the issue with "political people in the know." 

"They say it sounds great in theory, but it just doesn't work  because even if you say something, or someone else says that they disclose who they have, there's no way to verify anything from that," Gingles said. 

And he said it could scare off donations from people who don't want their name known. 

"Given that it's going to be a tough financial go to begin with, we figured it's no sense to put us at any more of a disadvantage anyway," Gingles said. 

Moncton Mayor Dawn Arnold has not said if she'll seek a second term. 

Asked by reporters Monday about whether she would disclose donations if she runs again, she said "perhaps we'll have that discussion on Friday."

'Community secrets'

She added that it can be challenging if one candidate does disclose and others don't.

"Often in Moncton, people support all candidates - the same person will donate to all candidates. It's sort of one of those community secrets," Arnold said. "I don't know if those people will want to be known."

Arnold hasn't disclosed who contributed to her 2016 mayoral campaign.

The municipal election is scheduled for May 11 in communities across the province. 

About the Author

Shane Magee

Reporter

Shane Magee is a Moncton-based reporter for CBC.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now