The Tantramar mayoralty candidates outlined differing positions on revealing campaign donations and their total campaign spending when they responded to questions from Warktimes e-mailed to them on November 15.
The candidates were asked if, after the election, they would commit (1) to publishing the names of campaign donors (2) revealing the amount of money or the value of services that each donor contributed and, (3) publishing the total amount of their campaign spending.
Bonnie Swift reaffirmed her commitment “to publish my donors’ names and what they gave me. However, if a donor didn’t want their name published, I would protect their privacy.” She added that she will reveal her total campaign spending.
Shawn Mesheau responded with a message signed by a member of his campaign team that read:
“Candidate Mesheau is following all of the rules as set out under the elections act for municipal elections. There are no rules requiring candidates to keep track of contributions or expenditures related to their campaign. Candidates are not required to file a financial return at the conclusion of the election. It is our understanding that by the time of the 2026 municipal elections the provincial government has indicated that they will be addressing these requirements. Candidate Mesheau will be reviewing the campaign finances with his team at the end of the campaign and will share appropriate information through social media platforms in keeping with the municipal elections act requirements.”
Andrew Black responded: “Yes to all three questions!”
Ward 1 candidate Robert Corkerton answered yes to all three questions: “I will make that commitment without issue,” he wrote.
Debbie Wiggins-Colwell, who is also running in Ward 1, wrote: “Had one private donation for one hundred dollars. My own funding was Advocate Printing nine hundred, eighty-five dollars and fifty-five cents and postal cost eighty-nine dollars and seventy cents. Total of one thousand, seventy-five and twenty-five cents. The private donation was used for rent for meet and greet.”
Ward 2 candidates Natalie Donaher, Wendy Epworth, Barry Hicks and Kevin Scott said they would reveal donors, donations and total spending.
Ward 3 candidates Allison Butcher, Alice Cotton, Josh Goguen, Sahitya Pendurthi and Michael Tower pledged full disclosure.
Bruce Phinney wrote: “I have no money donations, just verbal support. I spent no money on my campaign. I had signs left over from the last two elections.”
Virgil Hammock sent this answer: “Of course, yes to all questions. But the real answer is that I have zero donations and I have spent zero dollars running for council. I have done everything online by myself. I will not accept any donations between now and the election. Nothing is needed.”
Warktimes did not receive a response from Ward 3 candidates Charles Harvey and Sana Mohamad.
Ward 4 candidate Sabine Dietz responded that she has not had any campaign donations, but did have door-knocking help and will reveal total campaign spending.
Matt Estabrooks, who is also running in Ward 4, wrote: “I am able to provide the answers to your questions now. 1. No donors to my campaign. 2. No donors and therefore no funding or in kind services received for my campaign. 3. $245 of personal funds spent at Payzant Home Hardware on exterior paint and one sheet of 3/4” plywood. To hand paint and construct my one election sign installed on my own property. That is the extent of my personal spending on this election.”
For CBC reporting on the lack of municipal spending disclosure laws in New Brunswick, click here and here.
It is great to see that so many of the individuals running for Mayor, as well as Councillors for Tantramar, will be so open with the citizens as far as campaign spending goes, without being forced by law to do so. I believe that we have seen way too much secrecy in all political theatres lately.
Good question. Answers are interesting and some sound like savvy polticans. I notice that the term team was used to make me feel safe, but this isn’t a flight to Toronto on Swoop.
Honestly, who gives a shit? I don’t. I’d much rather know what they’re going to do for Tantramar. What policies are they going to bring forward to help people’s lives in Tantramar. What will they do for people in our communities?
I hate this petty bs. Why do people choose to focus on this stuff? But then again, this is Sackville so this article doesn’t surprise me at all. Sensationalize everything! Outrage around every corner! Why? Because people are bored.
Many of us care about it because provincially and federally it’s obvious that people and corporations donate to political candidates in the expectation of influencing legislators in ways that subvert democracy. Revealing candidates’ sources of funding is fundamental to honest democratic government.
Well Tristan, the fact is this – this ‘issue’ does indeed help to identify and evaluate the overall ‘openness’ of each candidate. It offers a glimpse of how they will most likely approach sharing pertinent information with the public.
While I agree that it’s important to pay attention to what they say they will do in the future, for incumbent candidates we must also consider what they have done – or haven’t done – in their past years on council.
I heard this line recently, and it applies in this case – “Those who have nothing to hide, hide nothing.”
We’ve never held any other candidates, municipal, provincial or federal to this standard. Do we demand Dominic Leblanc tell us who his donations come from? How about Meghan? Do we demand she tell us who donates to her campaign?
I do not trust Sackville to make a accurate judgement of a candidate based on where their donations come from. To me it’s a moot point and only stirs the pot that doesn’t need stirring. Why not focus on REAL ISSUES? What a wasted effort.
Note from Bruce Wark: Yes, we do require Dominic LeBlanc to disclose campaign donations — at least any over $200 and donors’ names and contribution amounts are published on the Elections Canada website. Similar rules apply to provincial election candidates in New Brunswick and have since the 1970s. There are also limits on candidate spending. It appears that N.B. is the only province with absolutely no disclosure or spending rules in local elections. Click on this link and you’ll see several reasons why disclosure is needed:
The near 100% open frankness among those who responded to the questions tends to leave one wondering about the exception.
As someone who has worked on a few campaigns in the past at the federal and provincial levels, the spending choices some of these candidates have made to have full colour lawn signs and campaign literature is mind boggling. Printing is very expensive, even for monochromatic materials. Save the money, folks. After all, it’s not your face on the ballot, it’s your name.
If my name was ‘ROB’, I would rather go with the picture, instead of the name, if I wanted people to trust me. Smiles!!
Cute. I guess I might feel the same way if my name were ‘PERCY BEST’ too. ;-).
letterpress printing costs 15 years ago favoured one colour printing, today with digital printing there is no difference in cost, only aesthetics, find a more up to date argument please.
Wasn’t really an “argument” more just an observation. And you’re right, it has been about 15 years since I’ve worked on a campaign come to think of it. Thanks for the updates. My printing future is now brighter (and more colourful)!
Love that your future (at least in printing!) is bright and colourful! Hope your future is too!