Credits: Mark Wanzel The Barrie Examiner QMI
TORONTO — Gerard Kennedy will call for a contribution limit for the provincial Liberal leadership campaign, saying he’s worried “big money” could have too much of an influence over the three-month campaign.
“I’m going to announce a limit because right now there is no limit to this,” Kennedy said last week. “I don’t think it should be limitless. You need to set a limit where it’s obvious that no one is getting influence.
“People agree with me -- this shouldn’t be about big money.”
The six candidates vying for the leadership -- the winner will also become premier -- can raise as much money as they want but can only spend $500,000, under rules set by the Liberal party. They all have to pay $50,000 to enter the race and contribute 25% of their fundraising total to the party.
All campaign contributions will be reported to Elections Ontario and any donations over $100 will be posted on line. The candidates must register with EO by Nov. 23 and four have already done so, although no contributions have been recorded yet.
“I don’t have any big splashy backers,” Kennedy said, adding he’ll release his contribution limit and a set of campaign code of ethics soon.
A statement from his campaign called the lack of limit to individual donations “ridiculous” but said Kennedy plans to raise close to the $625,000 spending maximum, including a 25% donation to party coffers.
Delegates to a Liberal party convention in January will choose the next Liberal leader, who will automatically become premier and replace the retiring Dalton McGuinty. Besides, the other five contenders are Eric Hoskins, Glen Murray, Sandra Pupatello, Charles Sousa and Kathleen Wynne.
“The Sandra Pupatello campaign team is happy to abide by the requirements set out by the election finance commission to report contributions,” spokesman Lauren Tedesco said in an e-mail. “We are also pleased that contributions are available online and in real time and are transparent.”
That view was echoed by officials with other campaign teams, all of whom said they were comfortable with the process and the reporting requirements.
“Kathleen is earning grassroots support across Ontario, talking with Ontarians about the future of the province,” Brian Clow, with the Wynne campaign said.
The Hoskins campaign said even with a very short, three-month window, it was hoping to meet it’s fundraising target.
“We’ve been getting great feedback and enthusiasm from donors so far,” Gabe De Roche said. “Even with the compressed timeline for raising money and for expenditures, we’re confident we will have a well-financed campaign. We’re also committed to not go into debt.”