WILLIAM NEVILLE APPOINTED PROVINCE'S FIRST ALLOWANCE COMMISSIONER
William Neville, senior scholar in political studies at the University of Manitoba, has been appointed as the province’s first independent allowance commissioner under the Elections Finances Act. He is tasked with establishing a public funding process for registered political parties, to replace the previous per-vote subsidy.
“I’d like to thank William Neville for agreeing to act in this capacity,” government house leader Jennifer Howard said. “Mr. Neville brings to the table the right mix of familiarity with the political process, as well as independence. With his appointment, we are moving Manitoba forward towards a more fair, transparent and non-partisan process to fund registered political parties.”
William Neville is a senior scholar in the department of political studies at the University of Manitoba. A graduate of that university and of Oxford, which he attended as a Rhodes Scholar, he served as executive assistant to the president of the University of Manitoba from 1982 to 1997, and subsequently as head of the department of political studies from 1997 to 2005. His career included two years in the 1970s as chief of staff to the late Sidney Spivak, then leader of the opposition in the Manitoba Legislature, and 10 years as member of Winnipeg City Council.
Legislative amendments introduced and passed this spring made Manitoba the first province or territory in Canada to have an independent commissioner determine the public funding process for registered political parties.
The legislation sets out the commissioner may consider factors such as the administration and operating costs of political parties before determining a fair level and method of funding. Polling and advertising costs would not be considered, as the annual allowance is intended to help political parties defray their administration and operating costs including costs incurred in complying with their obligations under provincial statutes. Within three months of being appointed, the allowance commissioner must submit a report to the speaker setting out their decisions, though the speaker may extend that period.
“Around the world, we know that strong democracies encourage the growth of many diverse political parties,” Howard said. “This legislation builds on previous measures taken to ensure a level political playing field including the banning of corporate and union donations and a set election date. It will help ensure that Manitobans continue to have a choice between many points of view when they select their legislative representatives.”