City committee to change contribution amounts for municipal campaigns

Hands putting envelop into ballot box while a mans finger presses button to count the ballot.
The Executive Standing Committee made amendments to campaign contribution amounts. Photo courtesy Unsplash.
Haeley DiRisio - CKDU - HalifaxNS | 29-11-2023
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On Monday morning, Halifax’s Executive Standing Committee made amendments around contributions to the Campaign Finance By-law.

The committee deferred the item in September and requested that the Chief Administrative Officer provide further analysis on contribution limits per election and “reducing the maximum contribution of spouse to match the maximum total contribution.” 

Elections and Special Projects Manager Liam MacSween recommended an inflation-based increase to campaign contribution limits. The campaign finance by-law was adopted in 2018: since then, inflation is 18.27 per cent, according to the Bank of Canada.

Mayor Mike Savage said allowing wealthy candidates to finance half of their campaign is “disgusting.” 

“Someone with money can single-handedly finance half of what they're allowed to and more than what most people spend,” Savage said. 

Coun. David Hendsbee said the campaign expenses should be considered due to high costs for printing and mailing. 

The committee made the amendments to remove the word "spouse" from the by-law and allow candidates to contribute no more than $17,700 per election, previously $15,000. Maximum spending limits were raised from $30,000 to $35,300 per councillor candidate and from $300,000 to $353,000 per mayor candidate.

The mayor said it is a “built-in advantage” for people with money to contribute $17,700 of their own money. 

“How many people spend over $17,000 to run for council?” Savage said. “Not very many.” 

The motion will go forward to regional council.

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