FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is calling for campaign finance reform at the municipal level after it was learned that over the weekend, one of the mayoral candidates, Mark Sutcliffe, held an exclusive $1200/person fundraiser hosted by the owner of the Ottawa RedBlacks, Jeff Hunt at his private multi-million dollar condo.
This is not the first time cash-for-access fundraisers have been an issue in Ottawa. Last election, outgoing Alta Vista Ward councillor, Jean Cloutier, had to cancel a fundraiser hosted by development industry executives for his campaign due to a high degree of public scrutiny. Other current and former members of the Planning Committee, such as Jan Harder and former councillor, now-current MPP, Stephen Blais, have also been subject to scrutiny as a result of fundraisers organized for past campaigns.
“For a candidate claiming to have a ‘new, fresher’ perspective on City Hall, Sutcliffe seems to be replicating more of the same egregious behaviors of status quo politicians” said Sam Hersh, a Board Member of Horizon Ottawa, “We need a mayor who will make City Hall more accessible, not one who continues to have an agenda guided by big corporate interest.”
In 2016, Sutcliffe himself, wrote an op-ed in the Ottawa Citizen bemoaning the existence of such fundraisers that cost thousands of dollars a plate. In it he calls the practice “dangerous” and asks the question - “How can any politician keep a straight face while saying that a big part of democracy involves thousands of dollars being paid for VIP access to private cocktail receptions?”
In response to this event, Horizon Ottawa is repeating their call for real campaign finance reform including policies such as:
- limiting cash-for-access fundraisers at the municipal level,
- lowering the overall individual contribution limit and
- introducing more public financing of election campaigns as they have done in other jurisdictions.
“Mitigating the influence of money in politics is essential to lowering the barrier of entry for those wishing to run as candidates or get more involved in election campaigns”, said Hersh, “all members of our community should have equal access and influence to those elected to represent us”.
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