In a peculiar moment in last night's debate, Liberal candidate Lloyd Longfield challenged his fellow candidates to only take money from local donors in terms of fundraising. There's been a lot of money talk this campaign, but is there a serious influx of outside Guelph cash in the campaign in the Royal City?
Shortly after the debate, the Longfield campaign sent out a press release outlining Longfield's new mission:
“To truly be Guelph’s voice in Ottawa and be accountable to those who I want to represent, I am only accepting donations from the people of Guelph. I will not let outsiders tell me how to advocate for Guelph,” said Longfield.
All candidates have stated that they will be the local voice, however previous election expense reports from local candidates show tens of thousands of dollars from riding associations outside Guelph bankrolling candidates. “How can you declare yourself the local voice when those funding your campaign can’t even vote for you? If you stand by your statement to be the local voice then join me in pledging to only accept local donations,” said Longfield.
Outside money has been used to influence Guelph elections in the past. In the 2008 election, Gloria Kovach accepted $74,000 from Conservative Party riding associations in Alberta and Ontario, much of the money raised from oil producers. In 2011, Marty Burke received $61,000 from Conservative riding associations from across the country, including Jason Kenney’s local association. This election, the Green Party has mobilized paid staffers and financial backers from across Canada to try to get North Bay resident Gord Miller elected in Guelph.
Elections Canada doesn't have numbers available for the current campaign, but I did look up previous campaign fundraising numbers that were posted to the Elections Canada website, and reviewed by them for accuracy. In 2011, there were five individual donors that did not live in Guelph that contributed to the campaign for Conservative Marty Burke, and six* that contributed to Green Party candidate John Lawson. All were from Ontario, most were from Rockwood, but nearly a dozen people that didn't live in Guelph during the 2011 Federal Election contributed to those two campaigns.
*One person was listed twice as two separate donation.
While I couldn't find any connection to Jason Kenney or the Calgary Southeast Electoral District Association (EDA) that he represents, Elections Canada does list the EDA of Regina-Qu'Appelle in Saskatchewan as a $3,000 contributor to the Burke campaign in 2011. That riding is notable as it's currently represented by the Speaker of the House of Commons, Andrew Scheer.
Looking back at the 2008, Elections Canada says that Gloria Kovach during her first campaign as Conservative candidate for Guelph received several thousand dollars in donations from three other Conservative EDAs. The three EDAs were Durham, Nepean-Carlton, and the Lanark-Frontenac. Durham, then the riding held by disgraced Conservative MP Bev Oda, contributed $1,000. Pierre Poilievre's old riding Nepean-Carlton gave $3,000, while the former riding of long-time Conservative politician Scott Reid gave a whopping $10,000 to the Kovach campaign.
So will Longfield's appeal have any affect on the vote? I guess time will tell. It will be interesting to see if he mentions it again at tomorrow's University of Guelph debate.