Campaign Transparency: Should Voters Know Who Funds Whom During An Election?

Do voters have a right to know?

Candidates running for public office should have the right to solicit a reasonable amount of funding support from anyone wishing to contribute. At issue is the degree to which these financial gifts should be transparent and whether voters have the right to know who the significant donors are.

Campaign donations serve to drive-up the costs of running for election and a few substantial donations can provide a significant advantage to recipient candidates.

Do election contributions mean favour?

However, it is not unusual for donors to expect that their contributions will have some influence on the recipients’ decisions while fulfilling their political role. The public, then, should have access to information regarding who has provided funding and who may expect some favour.

It is not uncommon for governments to limit the amount one citizen can contribute. This stipulation is not currently applicable to this year’s civic elections.

How open should politicians be prior to the election?

Transparency in government is predetermined by the level of openness evident in political leadership. It is unlikely that politicians can practice transparency in office when they are not forthcoming with information during their run for office.

There is a legal stipulation that donor’s lists will be made public after the election. This is low-level transparency.

I believe citizens have a right to know.

Citizens should have information prior to the election regarding which individuals or groups may expect to benefit from their financial contributions leading-up to the election.

Practicing a high level of transparency during the election indicates a sincere desire to earn the public’s trust once in office.

Therefore I am resolved to initiate such a higher level of transparency by publicly releasing my donor list, as well as the amount of money each has contributed, one week prior (November 8) to the civic election.

Please vote in your civic election November 15, 2014.