The need for reform: A report on the 2006 municipal election in Ottawa

The need for reform: A report on the 2006 municipal election in Ottawa
Posted on July 6, 2021 | Guy Talevi | Written on July 6, 2021
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Author's Note:

Author's Note:

The Need For Reform: A Report on the 2006 Municipal Election, by Councillor Alex Culllen (Bay Ward), June 20, 2007

"Two years ago, in a report to the City of Ottawa’s Corporate Services & Economic Development Committee and City Council, I prepared an analysis of the 2003 municipal election in Ottawa, together with some suggestions for reform of election finances.

In that report, I noted that:

In the 2003 municipal election for the City of Ottawa’s 22 council seats (Mayor plus 21 ward councillors) a remarkable thing happened: every incumbent running for re-election succeeded. The incumbent mayor and 15 incumbent ward councillors running were all re-elected, despite competition from 60 other candidates, despite endorsements for certain challengers from the two major newspapers and sundry interest groups. The only new councillors elected were from 6 “open” seats where no incumbent was a contestant.

I went on to suggest that:

A review of the 2003 municipal election in Ottawa indicates that there is an uneven playing field in municipal election campaigns, and the clear need for campaign financing reform.

The report on the 2003 election came to the conclusion that:

  • Incumbency is an overwhelming advantage in running for office and contributes to a lack of turnover at the municipal level that may have a negative impact on the quality of governance;

  • Running for office represents a large financial burden for new entrants that probably discourages new blood at the municipal level;

  • Corporate contributions have a significant influence on campaign finances at the municipal level, and the advantage of corporate contributions accrues almost entirely to incumbents;

  • The ability of incumbents to roll over surplus campaign funds multiplies the advantages of

    incumbency and makes it difficult to successfully challenge incumbents at the municipal level.

    1 Since that time, there have been major changes to the election financing regime at the Federal level ,

    and several provinces have begun looking at reforms to their electoral systems.

    The results of the 2006 municipal election in Ottawa are now in, and it looks like not much has changed."  - Alex Cullen

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Retired after a career in high tech, Guy Talevi lives in Ottawa, Ontario.