The release of campaign financing information can shed light on where candidates draw their support. Three months after the municipal election, isn’t that a little late?
There were few alarming revelations in the disclosure statements released this week regarding the dozens of candidates who ran for various council positions in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region. One that caught our attention was not salacious or controversial.
The vast majority of candidates used their own money to fund their campaigns. So, that means they not only welcomed the scrutiny and a certain level of frustration, they paid for the right to enjoy it.
As we have written here before, we salute all of the people who had the courage to put their names on ballots in Parksville Qualicum Beach.
The most controversial, or interesting, news out of the disclosure statements came from Parksville, where we learned now-Coun. Kirk Oates got 99 per cent of his $4,600 campaign war chest from unions.
The $4,550 Oates received from CUPE and other labour organizations was many times more than all the candidates in all races in the region received from unions — combined.
To his credit, Oates isn’t defensive or evasive about the support. He told us this week he understands the perception this creates but he believes his record, at the end of the term, will show his ability to do the job he was elected to do was not affected by his union affiliations.
The question really is this: should voters have known more about Oates’ strong ties to labour before they went to the polls? Oates works for CUPE and never hid that fact during the campaign. It never really came up in public forums.
Would it have been an issue for voters if they knew Oates’ campaign was being 99 per cent funded by unions? Tough to say, but this region is not exactly a labour stronghold if one considers the results of recent provincial and federal elections relevant.
Early indications suggest Oates will be a strong councillor. Or at least one who will spice things up in often dry council meetings. He is seeking a legal opinion about his future participation in council discussions related to union staff at city hall.
As he readily admits, the perception of conflict can trump the reality of conflict. Oates is organized labour’s voice on city council. They helped put him there. That is both the perception and reality.
— Editorial by John Harding