All Edmonton mayoral front-runners promise to publish donor lists before election

·3 min read
Municipal candidates are required to file campaign disclosure statements by March 1, 2022, but some are choosing to disclose donors before the Oct. 18 election. (CBC - image credit)
Municipal candidates are required to file campaign disclosure statements by March 1, 2022, but some are choosing to disclose donors before the Oct. 18 election. (CBC - image credit)

Edmonton mayoral candidates are not required to disclose their donors before election day, but all of this election's front-runners have now committed to doing so.

As of Wednesday evening, Mike Nickel and Amarjeet Sohi had published donor lists online.

Campaigners for Kim Krushell, Michael Oshry and Cheryll Watson confirmed to CBC News that they will disclose donors before the election.

Nickel had previously told the Edmonton Journal that several of his donors had been "targeted" and that he would not be "giving more ammunition to these folks to target my supporters." He published his list on Wednesday night.

Krushell has committed to releasing her donor list in the next few days and Oshry will be releasing his this weekend.

Watson will be following Don Iveson's precedent of releasing the information the day before the election.

Diana Steele has also published her donor list online. Brian (Breezy) Gregg, Malik Chukwudi and Vanessa Denman self-financed their campaigns.

Augustine Marah said he will be disclosing his short list of donors after the election. Rick Comrie, who, like Chukwudi, is now endorsing Nickel for mayor, also said he does not plan to disclose donors before the election.

The names of some people who contributed to Comrie's crowdfunding campaign are visible online.

Promised transparency

Angela Duncan, interim president of the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, said she was happy to see candidates disclosing but disappointed that only one of the Edmonton mayoral front-runners had published his donors list as of Wednesday morning.

Multiple candidates who have not yet disclosed their donors have campaigned on running a more transparent and accountable city government.

"I would really encourage them to put their money where their mouth is and disclose their donors," Duncan said.

"Financial disclosure a couple of hours beforehand does not allow voters to make informed decisions."

"I would suggest that those who choose to release their donor lists so late in the game are doing it to achieve the appearance of transparency and not in the true spirit of that," said Leah Ward, a political strategist and director of campaigns at Metric Strategies. Ward has not worked for any of the Edmonton mayoral campaigns.

Though some motivated voters may comb through donor lists before going to the polls, Ward said the disclosures are most useful for candidates' political opponents.

Who is donating?

Sohi's list, which was published on Oct. 8 and lists donations as of Oct. 6, reveals more than 1,000 donors who gave $50 or more, including former Edmonton mayor Stephen Mandel and former Edmonton MP Anne McLellan. His website says a final list will be released by the end of the day on Oct. 17.

According to Nickel's website, he has raised more than $414,664 from nearly 1,000 people. Some of his donors include former Edmonton MPs Kerry Diotte and Peter Goldring and two members of the Ghermezian family.

Real estate developers and business owners from other industries appear on both lists, with some donating to both campaigns.

Incumbent city councillor Andrew Knack is among Steele's 35 donors.

Some local council candidates and candidates for municipal races in other cities have also embraced proactive disclosure.

AUMA
AUMA

For the first time this year, the AUMA encouraged candidates to sign a voluntary pledge that included a promise to disclose campaign contributions and spending before the election. Candidates have been sharing their pledges on social media.

"I think it really has had an impact," Duncan said. The AUMA is not tracking how many candidates have signed pledges, nor whether candidates honour them.

Under the previous NDP government, municipalities were given the option to require pre-election disclosure, but last year, the UCP government removed that ability by making changes to the province's elections act.

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