NEWS

Toronto mayoral candidates to release donor lists

10/22/2014 05:00 EDT | Updated 12/21/2014 05:59 EST
They're going to show us the lists of the people who gave them the money.

Olivia Chow is slated to release the list of her campaign donors today.

"The donors list is very important because it shows who is behind each candidate," she said over the weekend.

Fellow high-profile contenders Doug Ford and John Tory are reportedly going to follow suit ahead of election day.

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Tory previously released the donor information when he ran for mayor in 2003.

"The lists are, of course, required to be made public under law, several months after the campaign, but I think it's better that people should have a chance to see the list and so we're going to put it out," he said on the weekend, when asked about his decision to release the list.

Ford has also pledged to release his donor information, and he's predicting that voters will be surprised at what they see on his list and what they see on Tory's list.

"I have the common people supporting me," he said Saturday.

A trend toward transparency?

David Siegel, a professor of political science at Brock University, said the early release of donor lists has played out repeatedly on campaign trails in recent years, as an expectation of greater transparency has emerged.

"This is something that's talked about around every election in the last few years," he said in a telephone interview with CBC News.

While Chow appears to have been the first to pledge to release her list of donors, Siegel said that won't matter much to the voters if Ford and Tory do the same.

"She'll try to market it that way, but all three of them are going to do it," Siegel said.

Conrad Winn, a professor of political science at Carleton University, said the message from candidates is that they are trying to be as transparent as they can be — though he believes there is a lower bar in place for transparency in general at the municipal level, when compared to the federal level.

"I think federal politics has generally become cleaner than local politics," he said in a telephone interview.

In any case, Siegel said, the public shouldn't be expecting to see too many surprises when Toronto's mayoral candidates release their donor lists, because the people seeking donations know the types of headlines they want to avoid.

"They have to be thinking about this when they are collecting," said Siegel.

More than 161,000 Toronto voters cast their ballots early at advance polls. The rest will have an opportunity do so on Monday.

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