Hanson calls on council candidates to open books

Municipal politicians should be open about where they're getting their money from, says NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

Municipal politicians should be open about where they’re getting their money from, says NDP Leader Liz Hanson.

In territorial elections, all campaign donations over $250 have to be publicly disclosed shortly after the election.

As it stands now, there is no similar rule at the municipal level, but there should be – especially in Whitehorse, she said.

“I think it makes sense for lots of different reasons,” said Hanson. “It shouldn’t be a difficult thing.”

With much of the territory’s population living in Whitehorse and the rapid growth that the city’s seen over the last few years it’s more important than ever that people have faith in the municipal government, she said.

“I’ve had people approaching me saying, ‘Gee, there’s something different about this campaign,’ and the thing they pointed to was there seems to be a lot more extensive signage in various different places and different kinds of ads being mounted. So several people said, ‘Well who’s paying for all this?’”

While currently, nothing compels a municipal candidate to tell the public who’s supporting them, Hanson is hopeful that a few will take up her challenge.

“We’ve heard a lot of talk about openness and transparency at all levels of government. Here’s a simple way to show that you believe it by acting it out and following similar disclosure requirements that are in place for the territorial government.”

Making it law is something that the territory should consider as it reviews the Municipal Act, said Hanson.

“It’s simply a way of demonstrating good faith and openness in terms of being willing to say who’s backing you and being able, through your actions, to prove that political backing doesn’t, or should not be, influencing the decisions that you take on council.”