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Buying Influence?

Which lobbyists gave money to councillors durring the last election?

by Tim Groves

By Robert Scarth (creative commons, from flicker)
By Robert Scarth (creative commons, from flicker)
http://app.toronto.ca/lobbyistsearch/searchInput.do
http://app.toronto.ca/lobbyistsearch/searchInput.do

Toronto Media Coop has conducted part of an investigation into lobbyists who try to buy influence by donating to Toronto city councillor's election campaigns. Candidates in the current municipal election are not required to disclose their financial backers until March 2011, so the first part of the investigation looks at the current councillors and lobbyists who donated to them in the 2006 election. In April 2011, the second part of our investigation will be released.

 
Our investigation matched the names or people or corporations in the City of Toronto Lobbyist Registry to the names of contributors to candidates in the 2006 Toronto municipal elections. To view a spreadsheet of the 148 contributions by lobbyists, click here. To view a spreadsheet of the 56 unique contributors, click here.
 
Under legislation no person or corporation can donate more than $750 to any candidate for city council. Below is a list of the lobbyists who donated $3000 or more to candidates in the municipal elections. Although the amounts of money given are small enough to question if much influence is being secured by the donations, the systematic approach that some corporations have taken to donating to candidates regardless of their politics may suggests they are attempting to buy influence.
 
It must be noted that the 10 candidates in the last municipal elections did not accept donations from any corporations or unions, and others accepted limited donations. Corporate and union donations are banned in the 2010 election.
 
CORPORATIONS IN THE LOBBYIST REGISTRY DONATING AT LEAST $3000 IN THE 2006 MUNICIPAL ELECTION:
 
PATTISON OUTDOOR ADVERTISING
Total contribution: $6125
Councillors contributed to: 18
Major issues lobbies on: The rewriting of the Sign By-law, which regulates billboards, and outdoor sign approval.
 
CLEAR CHANNEL OUTDOOR
Total contribution: $5600
Councillors contributed to: 12
Major issues lobbies on: The rewriting of the Sign By-law, which regulates billboards, outdoor sign approval, street furniture, and authority to enter agreement with Astral Media Outdoor.
 
GREATER TORONTO APARTMENT ASSOCIATION
Total contribution: $5350
Councillors contributed to: 11
Issues lobbies on: policies regarding residential landlords, and the possibility of Toronto licensing apartments.
 
TELUS
Total contribution: $7500
Councillors contributed to: 10
Issues lobbies on: City of Toronto Wireless Telecommunications Protocol.
 
SUSSEX STRATEGY GROUP INC
Total contribution: $4000
Councillors contributed to: 9
Issues lobbies on: This lobbying firm had 72 different entries in the Lobbying Registry and worked on a variety of issues for many clients.
 
TDL GROUP CORP TIM HORTONS
Total contribution: $7925
Councillors contributed to: 11
Issues lobbied on: In-store packaging report to reduce waste from stores, and Drive Thrus Zoning Bylaws.
 
TRIBUTE COMMUNITIES (YORK) INC
Total contribution: $3000
Councillors contributed to: 5
Issues lobbies on: Planning at 2130 Bayview Ave. and 426 University Ave.
 
DUNPAR DEVELOPMENTS INC
Total contribution: $3000
Councillors contributed to: 4
Issues lobbies on: Planning at 1145 Ossington Ave. and 51 Lakeshore Blvd., and OMB hearing on 4187 Dundas St. W. and 569-571 Price Edward Dr.
 
If you are interested in a copy of the raw data used to compile this investigation, please say so in the comments or contact the author.
 
Stay tuned, a report on the corporation that donated the most money, Tim Hortons, and what they were lobbying on, will be published soon.
 
To see a database of the financial contributions of all candidates visit http://www.votetoronto.ca/search.php?cityID=25063 
 
To search the city of Toronto Lobbyist registry visit http://app.toronto.ca/lobbyistsearch/searchInput.do
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