Brian Karam's municipal campaign contributions

Brian Karam's municipal campaign contributions
Posted on August 13, 2013 | Alex Cullen | Written on August 13, 2013
Letter type:


Ottawa Citizen

David Reevely's article on businessman Brian Karam's multiple municipal campaign contributions through his various numbered companies to city councillors illustrates a flaw in Ontario's municipal election law ("Businessman who lent Harb money also donated to city councillors", Ottawa Citizen, Aug. 9, 2013).

While the overwhelming majority of voters are limited to what we can contribute to our favorite municipal candidates, a select few like Brian Karam can, by virtue of the corporations they control, provide additional funds to support their favourite candidates. This is both unfair and undemocratic, particularly as money is important in how candidates promote their campaigns to the electorate.

There is no justification to permit this select few (Mr. Karam is not the only example) this advantage in influencing municipal elections. Democracy is based on one person one vote and municipal campaign contributions should be limited to voters only. Corporations (and unions) don't have a vote and should not be able to contribute to municipal election campaigns.

Alex Cullen
(Alex Cullen was a member of Ottawa City Council from 2000 to 2010. During that time he did not accept corporate campaign contributions for his municipal elections).

About The Author

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Former OBE Trustee (1982-88), Ottawa City Councillor (1991-94), RMOC Councillor (1991-97), MPP Ottawa West (1997-99), Ottawa City Councillor (2000-2010). Economist, former Policy Analyst NHW (1982-91), former... More


I agree Alex. I don't believe Peter Hume is correct when he says small campaign contributions don't influence councillors' decisions.

This is a perfect example of how the rules can be easily bypassed.

In relation to municipal campaign spending limits for council candidates that range just above and below $30000 in Ottawa, $2250 represents a minimum of 7% of a total budget. More than just chump change.

Jim Elliott

Would it be too great an invasion of privacy to require all candidates to reveal the names of their contributors? Just so we could know whom they really represent.

Alex Cullen

The law governing Ontario municipal election finances only requires that names & addresses of donors whose contributions exceed $100 must be listed (with the total amount donated) on candidate financial returns. I think all donors should be listed, and in my campaigns I did list all my donors (although, for those $100 and under I did not list the exact contribution, just the category). All it takes to change this is an amendment to the legislation at Queen's Park.

By the way, Ottawa City Council has the authority under the legislation to eliminate corporate & union municipal campaign contributions. The City of Toronto has - why not here?