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“Unity” dinner for mayoral candidates will help relieve campaign debts—especially Rob Ford’s

Mayor change: candidates, including the mayor-elect, are looking to help pay off their campaign debts (Image: Shaun Merritt)

After long election campaigns, there’s almost always the ugly aftermath of debt—specifically, the debts that campaigns rack up because they spent more money than they raised from supporters. Toronto’s mayoral election was no exception. But the city’s leading class (some might even call them “elites”) has an idea that might solve this fiscal problem: a fundraising “unity dinner” to help retire all the candidates’ debts. Two snags: 1) Joe Pantalone and George Smitherman don’t want to be unified with their erstwhile opponents, and 2) the event would overwhelmingly benefit Rob Ford, who is believed to have debts greater than the other candidates’ combined.

From the Globe and Mail:

Former premiers David Peterson and Mike Harris, former Ontario Progressive Conservative leader John Tory and fundraising guru Ralph Lean are among the elder statesmen who have begun discussing a joint event that would most likely be held in January…Mayor-elect Rob Ford is an enthusiastic backer of the idea, according to his brother and councillor-elect Doug Ford.

The mayor-elect is believed to have the largest debt of any of the contenders. He raised about $950,000 but spent the limit of approximately $1.3-million, not including the cost of fundraising and throwing a victory bash, said chief of staff Nick Kouvalis.

Meanwhile, neither Smitherman nor Pantalone will be involved in this dinner because the former doesn’t need the money, and the latter doesn’t want to be associated with Mike Harris’s charity. Pantalone spent the entire campaign running against Harris’s legacy, so the dinner would be awkward (but hilarious) if he were to show up with his hand out.

The candidates who will avail themselves of the opportunity lean to the right (not unlike the organizers): Ford, Sarah Thomson, Giorgio Mammoliti (remember his mayoral campaign?) and Rocco Rossi are all named as potential benefactors. But Ford’s debt is thought to be the largest by far: running a winning campaign isn’t cheap, and Ford spent an estimated $650,000 of his own money to round out his campaign war chest.

The exact figures are not confirmed, but Ford’s debt is believed to be more than all the other candidates’ combined, which means that despite dressing it up with words like “unity,” this dinner is really a second chance for the city’s wealthy conservatives to help out other wealthy conservatives to make a charitable donation to a worthy cause.

No word yet on if gravy will be on the menu.

• Fundraiser in the works to erase Toronto mayoral candidates’ campaign debts [Globe and Mail]
• Peter Kuitenbrouwer: Those pesky campaign debts [National Post]
• ‘Unity dinner’ planned to erase mayoral candidates’ debts [Toronto Star]
• Fundraiser proposed for mayoral candidates [National Post]

  • C Brown

    Contribution Rebate Program Toronto City Council has authorized a contribution rebate program for individuals who make monetary contributions to candidates running for mayor or councillor in the 2010 municipal election. The maximum contribution permitted is $750 to a councillor candidate and $2,500 to a mayoralty candidate.

    The rebate payable is calculated as follows:
    ♦ Total contributions of less than $25 are not eligible for a rebate.
    ♦ A contribution between $25 and $300 will receive a rebate of 75 per cent of the contribution. ♦ A contribution over $300 but not more than $1,000 will receive a rebate of $225 plus 50 per cent of the difference between the amount of the contribution and $300.
    ♦ If the total contribution is more than $1,000 the rebate is the lesser of: $575 plus 33 13 per cent of the difference between the amount of the contribution and $1,000, and $1,000 (the maximum rebate payable)

    Please see the reverse side of this bulletin for sample contribution rebate calculations. The amount of the rebate paid to an individual is based upon the total amount of all the contributions the contributor made to all candidates in the election.

    For example, if a contributor gave $500 each to three different candidates, the rebate is calculated based on the total contribution of $1,500. The rebate payable on the $1,500 would be $741.67.

    What’s new A contributor, who gives to multiple candidates, cannot give a total of more than $5,000. Failure to do so may result in a fine up to $25,000 or imprisonment.

    Corporations and trade unions are not eligible to give contributions to candidates running for mayor or councillor.

    All contributors, who contributed over $100, will have their name, address, the amount they contributed and the name of the candidate they supported posted on the City of Toronto’s website.

    How to apply for a rebate Once the contributor receives the rebate form from the candidate, they must: • Fully complete section 2 of theContribution Receipt & RebateRequest form • Mail the form to: Toronto Elections 89 Northline Road Toronto, ON M4B 3G1 A contributor may mail the rebate request immediately after receiving it from the candidate or at any time up to the deadline date. Contributors who send in their forms by August 19, 2011 will receive their rebate in early September 2011.

    Last day to apply for a rebate The last day to apply for a rebate is 4:30 p.m., January 3, 2012. Contact Us If you have any questions regarding the contribution rebate program, call Toronto Elections at 416-338-1111.

    Total Contributions to all candidates
    Amount of Rebate
    Total Contributions to all candidates
    over $2,275 maximum Amount of Rebate $1,000

    Prepared for information purposes only by the City of Toronto Elections & Registry Services.
    For additional information, please visit the elections website at

  • Bob Jenkins

    This whole matter exemplifies what we can expect from Rob Ford. He takes big chances with other people’s money with the expectation that big business will look out for his personal debts regardless of what they expect in return.

    This fund raiser will take the money from charities and food banks who really need the funding at this time. Thanks to Mike Harris and his cronies food banks which were to be an emergency measure are now a fact of life.

    In better times, the food banks and charities were better funded but now with hard times those emergency groups are sadly underfunded.

    These candidates should pay off their own debts instead of taking the bread from the mouths of under privileged children.

    Bob Jenkins