Ban corporate and union donations in municipal elections, says municipal affairs minister

Ontario's minister of municipal affairs and housing says amending municipal elections bill would create "level playing field" for all candidates.
Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin plans to introduce amendments to a bill updating municipal elections laws, including one that would ban corporate and union donations to candidates. (CBC)

The Ontario Liberals want to ban corporations and unions from making donations to candidates running for office in municipal and school board elections.

Bill 181, the Municipal Elections Modernization Act, is weaving its way through Queen's Park.

During the debate at the bill's second reading in April, NDP MPP Monique Taylor questioned why a ban would be made optional for municipalities, rather than having the same rules applied across the province.

"With this legislation, we need to support local democracy and get big money out of municipal elections, but the bill stops short of banning corporate and union donations," she said, according to the Hansard transcript of the debate.

After hearing from other people and groups in Ontario in recent weeks, the minister of municipal affairs and housing, said he was prepared to propose changes.

"To align with the strong action we are taking provincially on electoral finance reform, and to make Bill 181 even stronger, we intend to bring forward amendments to the bill at the next meeting of the Standing Committee that would ban corporate and union contributions to council candidates in every municipality across the province," said Ted McMeekin in a statement Wednesday.

"This would create an even playing field for all candidates."

The provincial standing committee on finance and economic affairs is scheduled to meet Thursday.