Campaign contributions: How much developers donated to city council candidates

Calgary City Hall. Global News

CALGARY- Following the firestorm of criticism after hidden video emerged showing a home builder’s plan to try and control city council, Global News has taken a close look at campaign contributions from Calgary’s 2010 municipal election.

The data provided by the City of Calgary shows all donations $2,000 and up, for the successful council candidates and the top three mayoral candidates.

Shane Homes, whose founder hosted the November meeting, is listed as making a number of contributions including a $6,000 donation to Ward 3 councillor Jim Stevenson.

According to the city’s records, mayoral candidate Ric McIver, who was defeated but went on to become Alberta’s Minister of Transportation, received two separate $5,500 donations from a retail distributor and a land development company, along with $2,000 from Shane Homes. Shane Homes also donated $4,400 to councillor Andre Chabot, $3,000 to councillor Peter Demong, $2,500 to councillor Gord Lowe and $2,000 to councillor Shane Keating.

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A number of other development companies also donated to Ward 13 councillor Diane Colley-Urquhart, including Jayman MasterBuilt, Trico Developments, Remington Development Corporation, Marquis Communities and Mattamy Homes. Mayoral candidate Barb Higgins and Mayor Nenshi also received donations from a number of development companies.

The only elected councillors who did not receive donations from development companies were Druh Farrell, Gael Macleod and Gian-Carlo Carra.

“[Developers are] strategizing about pooling their funds toward councillors they’ve identified who will help them,” explains Aaron Moore, fellow at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance at the University of Toronto. “And that happens regardless of what level of government you’re at.”

He adds it threatens the voting process.

“It’s not something that makes you feel comfortable about democracy, that’s for sure, and brings up the question of whether we should allow corporations to make donations. But that said, those individuals can make personal donations as well.”

Some in Calgary’s housing industry have been clashing with the city over growth and who should be responsible for infrastructure.

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“It kind of confirms some of the suspicions and intuitions about how these things work,” says Andre Cote, a municipal affairs academic at the University of Toronto. “It’s not illegal per se, it’s age-old politics. You want to influence the election of these representatives.

“It certainly doesn’t look very good.”

Interactive: Political donations in Calgary’s 2010 local elections

-With files from Jamie Sturgeon

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