What is it this time Rory? Election compliance audit committee agrees that Nisan election fund raising is to be audited.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

July 25th, 2019



Well this is interesting.

The Compliance Audit Committee held a meeting Monday afternoon at city hall at 3:00 pm.

The Compliance Audit Committee is in place to review complaints over the way candidates financed their election campaign.

What makes this meeting of interest is that the committee was looking into two election financial returns.

There was an:

Application for Compliance Audit of the Gareth Williams election spending report.  The Compliance Audit Committee rejected the application for an audit of the Williams spending.


Rory Nisan used a raffle as a fund raising tool – Luke McEachern didn’t think the rules had been followed. He asked that Nisan’s election spending be audited and the Compliance Audit Committee said yes.

There was also an Application for Compliance Audit of the Rory Nisan election spending report. The Compliance Audit Committee granted the request for an audit saying “there was reasonable grounds to proceed with an audit, based on the lack of information provided on the monetary and non-monetary contributions to the Raffle Event.”

Nisan and Williams were ward 3 candidates in the October municipal election. Nisan won.

Luke McEachern filed the request for a review of the Nissan spending siting the following:

Candidate solicited gifts for Raffle for fund raising purposes.
Receipts for gifts not accounted for.
Return of gifts not receipted.

The rules for compliance audits say:

Rory NisanAn elector who is entitled to vote in an election and believes on reasonable grounds that a Candidate and/or Registered Third Party has contravened a provision of the Act relating to election campaign finances is required to complete the application for Election Compliance Audit providing reasons and supporting documentation.

Within 30 days after receiving the application, the Compliance Audit Committee will consider the application and determine if an audit is required or if the application is rejected.

The decision of the Committee regarding whether an audit is required or if the application is rejected, may be appealed to the Ontario Court of Justice within 15 days after the decision is made.

If the Committee grants the audit, the auditor will conduct the audit to determine if the Candidate or Registered Third Party has complied with the requirements of the Municipal Elections Act with regard to election campaign finances.

The auditor will provide a report to the Clerk, the Candidate or Registered Third Party and the Applicant.

The committee will consider the report within 30 days of receiving it and determines whether legal proceedings should be commenced against the Candidate or Registered Third Party.
The process proceeds. The Gazette awaits the outcome – as does the candidate.

The Gazette is also continuing with its investigation of the donation swap that took place between Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns and Ward 3 candidate Rory Nisan.  They each donated $1200 to the other’s election campaign.

Related news story.

Ward 3 candidate regrets the fund raising error

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36 comments to What is it this time Rory? Election compliance audit committee agrees that Nisan election fund raising is to be audited.

  • david barker

    I am not a fan of Lisa Cooper as respects her platform to become a Burlington Councilor, but whether she, her husband, her cousins or anyone else rated to her bringing a complaint or seeking an audit of another candidate, it is wrong for anyone to question whether the person bringing the complaint/request for audit is doing so for themselves or as a proxy for someone else. What does it matter whether Lisa or her husband brought the complaint/request for audit? What does it matter if Lisa or anyone else wants to remain in the shadows and persuades someone else to lead the charge? What matters is that the complaint/request for audit be considered on its merits. Personally, I believe in Rory and accept his word, but let the process take it’s course. Please also remember not all breaches of election rules are committed with malintent. Sometimes honest mistakes get made, and should not attract sure consequences.

  • david barker

    I posted a comment here a couple of days ago, but it must have disappeared into the ether!

    I agree with others here that it would be a good step forward to have mandatory audits of all canditates’ election expenses, whether they were successful in being elected or not ! Mandatory audits of election expenses should put an end to conversations like this one. There would be no room to question a person’s character via unsubstantiated accusations or inuendo as to motive.

    With that in mind, why are people still questioning the “contribution swap” between Kerns and Nisan. I read in earlier columns here the contribution swap was legal. So why are people still questioning it? Because it offends their moral position, maybe? Well that’s wonderful but one person’s moral position will vary from another’s. Neither one is right or wrong. Let’s stick to judging people by what is legal or not, and leave the judging to those qualified to undertake that role !

    • Elan

      Let the ‘audit’ ensue. I expect there is no ‘there’ there. City auditors do review candidate finance reports after each election. If they find irregularities, fine. if competing candidates want to make noise after losing….they can ask for an audit. If certain competing candidates want to ask for an audit and pretend it is their husband that asked for it (Lisa Cooper), OK?

  • Lisa Cooper

    I agree Alfred. It should be part of the election procedure, afterwards all candidates must be audited. I have no problem with that.

    • Elan

      No Problem with transparency, Just don’t try to hide your own request for audit behind your husband’s maiden name. I have a problem with that, given you were a direct competitor for the seat.

  • Alfred

    Since we are going through poor Rory”s garbage. I came across an interesting piece of garbage that I had filed away. After commenting on this subject in the gazette. It was never posted as unsubstantiated.even though I had the report. I have 11 pages of Mayor MMW 2014 Audited Election spending and contributions. This became an issue when she made disparaging comments regarding contributions others were getting from different sources. She has failed to disclose $6,150 dollars of contributions to date while in fairness this could have been a clerical error. The report indicated that it was comprised of 11 pages. All pages were accounted for. One page said see attached list. Which I nor City staff could find. The other Mayoral candidates were aware of this. But they took the high ground and let it slide. Google 2014 elections and see for yourself. If we are going to do this to one candidate. Then we should do this to all candidates. As I said, it could have been a clerical error and remedied and innocent As of 5 minutes ago there is no correction or retraction that I could find. How no one picked up on it. Oh well I think we would all want to see all candidates contribution sources.

  • Lisa Cooper

    Good evening Elan I will accept your apology, and I will even spare you the 40 no wait your right it is probably closer to 80 line rebuttal. I must admit it did make me laugh.
    As for my husband or myself submitting the application, we did not think it mattered. Rory as well as City Hall and quite a few people in Ward 3 know who my husband is as he has campaigned with me numerous times, as you pointed out I have run a few times. I’ll leave it at that and await the decision that now I imagine quite a few people are going to be watching for now.
    Last note I would like to thank the Gazette for reporting on this, and giving the residents a place to share their opinions.

    • Elan

      Lisa, Cudos for you running multiple times. That is a feat, and a sacrifice that all of us should applaud. I didn’t see this before I responded to Barker above. Best for you and your family in the future. Water under the bridge, we will await the outcome of the audit.

  • Lisa Cooper

    Well isn’t that the pot calling the kettle. I notice you Elan are the only one who did not leave their last name. Something up with that?
    I responded to your name calling. I do not control what my husband chooses to do but believe me if he had not I would have applied for an audit, I asked during the campaign and was told the earliest I could challenge was March.
    Also I really don’t think it’s much of a secret on who my husband is. Is there something wrong with him questioning questionable donations to another parties campaign? Clearly stated in the rule book for ALL candidates. Should one candidate be allowed to break the rules where everyone else has to follow, with no repercussions.
    Rory has run in an election before, seeking the LIBERAL nomination for Pontiac, Quebec please do not tell me he does not know how to follow the rules. Or are they for everyone else? As for your statement that other incumbent Councillors broke the rules, does that make it right or legal? My husband responded to the candidate in OUR WARD. If residents or you wanted they could also have submitted for an audit. So why didn’t you?
    Ignorance of the law is not an excuse.
    Final note I nor my husband have any say in the outcome of this audit. If there was nothing remiss than Rory has nothing to worry about.
    The fact that you are so rabid about it makes me wonder what exactly is your relation to Mr. Nisan and why the name calling? I have been more than civil in any response regarding the election and the rules to which WE ALL WERE TO FOLLOW. And on that note I guess we all wait for the findings of the audit committee.

    • Elan

      Hi Lisa,

      – I do apologize for any name calling you perceived. Not appropriate on my part,

      – I do not find any fault in any resident questioning campaign financing. It must happen if there are concerns.

      – I have met Rory Nissan only once in person after he was elected (don’t live in his Ward)

      – Incumbent Councillors definitely made campaign rule violations. The city had no teeth to enforce rules they set and communicated to newly running candidates. However, to my knowledge, this had nothing to do with campaign finance violations, which are serious.

      – I think you hid your name from the complaint on purpose. You were a competitor in the race and didn’t want your name to appear on the complaint. Why the deception? Unless your husband really did it behind your back…in which case…surprise!

      Of course, you have no say in the audit outcome….never said you did.

      Regarding the ‘rabid’ comment, I will certainly tone down my rhetoric. I will await your next 40 line rebuttal. (is that 80 lines now?)

  • Penny Hersh

    Was there any mention in the audit of Rory donating $1,200.00 to Lisa Kearns campaign and Lisa Kearns donation $1,200.00 to Rory’s campaign? Never before have I seen a candidate running in one ward, donate money to another candidate running in a different ward. Should this be investigated as well?

    • Doug Smith

      Based on reading of the complaint and the statement from the audit committee the ‘swap’ is not the focus of the audit but it should be included. The obvious answer is this is a sneaky way to get around the limit a candidate can make to their own campaign. Glad to hear the Gazette is doing its own investigation but what is taking so long, the candidate financial statements were released several months ago.

  • Elan

    Blair, seems you are rightly calling BS on Gareth’s commitment to support the electorate of Burlington. Ancient history for all of us, or should be. Rory, I believe, is truly trying to represent his constituents, including on the Climate Emergency. Let’s focus on results, not fake news from malcontent,
    3rd place election losers.

    Editor’s note: There is nothing fake about an audit to be done by a duly appointed body. This is serious.

    • Elan

      To the editor. I wholly retract my ‘fake news’ comment. That was not appropriate. I agree it is totally appropriate for residents to ask if they have concerns.

    • Alysha Bayes

      Here’s the deal Elan. The members of the green party Burlington EDA nominated Gareth. You don’t have to like it but he was nominated and that’s really all there is to it. It’s highly inappropriate for Blair to suggest that some citizens should be excluded from democracy because she disagrees with them. Developers are not “evil”. Developing the green belt should be prevented but it is not “developers” that are the problem, let alone their individual employees. It’s distressing how easily you and Blair attempt to exclude citizens from the democratic process, unless they are your preferred candidate, in which case you are happy to overlook violations of electorial law.

      • Blair Smith

        Ok – you make so many assumptions here that you must be a lawyer. First, I do not wish to exclude anyone from the democratic process and never suggested anything of the sort. But having done an analysis of the financial statements of all the Burlington Candidates of the last election, there was heavy developer money thrown in certain very obvious directions. Secondly, you may disagree with my interpretation regarding consistency with ‘green’ philosophy but it still stands – sorry. And I respect that you have a different interpretation. And where did I say that I was happy to overlook violations of electoral law? I firmly believe in a level playing field and that any violations should be dealt with appropriately. Finally, please don’t emasculate me. I am a “he”.

        • Alysha Bayes

          Blair is a genderless name and I picked the wrong pronoun. Don’t make yourself a victim.

          Your “analysis” has not been subjected to any sort of scrutiny so I certainly take it with a grain of salt but regardless, it’s a red herring. You are stirring the pot. If you don’t think Mr Williams represents when you do then don’t vote for him in the election.

          The comment about violations was directed at Elan.

          • Blair Smith

            My analysis? Wait for it – it will be coming soon. Against my better judgement, which I’m sure you will feel isn’t very good at all, I would like to make two points. First, it is particularly irksome to have someone put words in your mouth and then be criticized for them. More importantly, however, I was not really challenging the right of developers, as individuals, to make donations within the approved limits to whomever they choose. I was commenting on the probity of accepting those donations. Donations offered can always be refused or returned. For example, Marianne Meed Ward, out of principle and in recognition of her position on excessive intensification, would not accept donations from developers. I admire that – particularly in what was perceived to be a close race.

            Your turn. I’ll give you the last word.

      • Elan

        And, honestly, I am not sure what you are talking about by your comments, Alysha. “citizens excluded”?. I did not say that or anything close to that. If they are individuals employed by groups hell bent on destroying the green belt to put up a parking lot, well then, yeah…I have a problem.

  • Lisa Cooper

    Well Hello Elan
    I would like to correct you on a number of fronts. First whatever the decision the audit committee has made was not influenced by myself or my husband. If there was nothing remiss in Mr. Nisan’s filings than they would have rejected the application as they did with Mr. Williams filings.
    Secondly I did not come in second but third so how would you think I would benefit from any outcome of this.
    Thirdly you are right I have run against a very strong incumbent for 3 of those elections. You make it sound like it’s a shame or embarrassment to put your name forth in an election, that it’s a crime to care about your community and your City.
    Yes I have run 4 times tell me Elan how many times have you put your money where your mouth is? I ran a clean campaign. The only donations that were made to my campaign were from my own bank account and my daughter who thoughtfully set up payment for my website. I am not the one being investigated am I for questionable donations. I have all my receipts.
    And lastly Elan, I will be moving to Roatan, Honduras within the next year as I am opening a bed and breakfast. If your ever down south that way please look me up. I’m the one with the 4 bedroom beach house.

    • Elan

      Touche’, Lisa! On the concept of ‘money where your mouth is’, I think I was most disturbed by the fact that you didn’t own this yourself by putting your own name on the audit request. It seemed like your tact of putting a relative’s name on it was an attempt to obscure that you were really the one requesting this. I have seen misdirection of this type during elections when developers try to hide their donations to candidates by giving cash to family members or neighbours to donate in their stead. Unfortunately, there is the internet to connect the dots.

      All the best in Roatan.

  • Blair Smith

    I thought that the request would lead back to the always marginal candidate in Ward 3. Fortunate for Mr. Williams that he avoided examination. I attended the Green Party Nomination meeting on July 16th and was extremely disappointed by the very, very low attendance and the absence of local environmentalists and “green” personalities. Indeed, Mr. Williams, the nominated candidate, was himself absent attending via video from Vancouver Island. I know that it is the summer but where is the commitment? Mr. Williams was very “indirect” in response to a “direct” question about developer donations in the last municipal election. For the record, there was more than one such given to Mr. Williams campaign. Although, developer donations may not be illegal, there is a certain inconsistency accepting same if you have Green Party pretensions. It was also interesting that Mr. Williams was aware of the provincial Bill 108, nicknamed the ‘Developers’ Dream Bill’, and seemed to support the need for a quasi-ajudicative body such as LPAT (OMB reborn under Bill 108).

    • Alysha Bayes

      This article has precisely nothing to do with the GPC nomination meeting. The Board of the EDA took no issue with Mr. Williams participating by video and it obviously didn’t matter to the folks that voted in favour of his nomination, so I am unclear as to why your opinion matters here.

      Many people are aware of Bill 108. I am unclear as to the relevance of being aware of the legislation.

      So long as donations come from individuals, no campaign laws have been violated. I am sure All sorts of unsavoury persons donate to Federal and provincial candidates; we do not hold them accountable unless it is illegal. In fact, this is why Mr. Nisan is facing further review: because he broke election laws!

      Perhaps you should walk away from what is clearly a bone to pick with Mr. Williams and call it a day.

      • Blair Smith

        No bone to pick and I believe that I said that developer donations were not illegal just inconsistent with someone wanting to protect green space (as a rule). Direct answers to direct questions have always been my preference.

      • Lynn Crosby

        I think the opinion of anyone who has one matters. I believe the point is that it doesn’t sit well with some of us that Williams did not answer the question directly and non-evasively and it’s disappointing that the turnout was so bad, even the candidate himself didn’t come in person.

        You’re right this article isn’t about that but the beauty of the Gazette is that we commenters can segue to other discussions. Since Williams’ statements were also brought to the audit committee and since he too was a ward 3 candidate, thinking about things on his financial statements and how they correlate to his new role as the Green candidate is one such segue. Personally it also makes me think of ward 3 candidate Peter Rusin while I am thinking about the ward and the fact he defaulted and didn’t file his papers at all. It’s all worth talking about and thankfully the Gazette lets the commentary flow wherever it may go. It’s why lots of people comment and read the comments.

        • Alysha Bayes

          Poor participation in the electoral process is rampant in Canada. This is not news.

          You may have been disappointed that Mr Williams couldn’t attend in person but it really doesn’t matter. The EDA didn’t ask his opinion as to when the meeting should be held and he did the best in the circumstances. That is the beauty of modern technology – he was able to speak and answer questions almost like he was there in person! Other than being unable to shake his hand, what do you feel was lost by the video?

          • Lynn Crosby

            What was lost? For me, a chance to further respond to his answer which I felt wasn’t answered in a forthright and direct, simple manner and a chance to hear him speak without reading from prepared notes he had in front of him, unlike the other candidates who spoke off the top of their heads.

            Thank you for telling me poor participation in elections is rampant. I had hoped that the Green Party was different, particularly at this particular time, and I had thought that in Burlington, considering how many people here are vocal about green issues and are voicing opinions about how municipal and provincial leaders should be making environmental issues a priority, I was both disappointed and surprised that the turnout would not have been high. It causes me to question the commitment of those folks who didn’t come in person. It was not expected.

            I am someone who is not a lifelong Green supporter, though I have voted Green once in the past. I would be someone that the party would probably hope to convert this time, when our other two main choices are less than ideal.

            Like Blair, I’ll leave you the last word because I did not want to take over this thread in this manner. I believe I now have learned a lot about the local Green Party, its supporters, their thoughts and how they express them. Enlightening.

  • Elan

    To be transparent, Luke McEachern is the husband of Lisa Cooper, 4th-time running and 3rd place loser (again) vs Rory in 2018 with 12% of the vote in the Ward 3 2018 election. I guess she hopes this avenue will get her the council seat she feels she is entitled to…you think after 4 elections and 4 rebuffs that the jury is in on Lisa and her potential with the electorate.

    • Jim Young

      Worth noting that the audit applications for both Gareth and Rory is filed by the same Mr McEachern.

    • Alysha Bayes

      Or, perhaps she wants to ensure that the man in the council position didn’t get there by breaking the law. It’s admirable. Democracy must be protected. Nisan took business donations and held a raffle without a license. If all the other candidates could follow the rules, why couldn’t he?

      • Elan

        Fair. But if you protest, put your name on it….not your husband’s. One correction: not all other candidates followed the ‘rules’ (i.e., illegal use by incumbent Councillors of city of Burlington email lists for their campaigns). They just lost anyway.

        • Alysha Bayes

          Great, file audit requests of those candidates!

          • Elan

            yeah….unfortunately these violations are not audit worthy…

          • Elan

            Also, I am not sure Gareth is a great candidate for anything, really, given his history and tactics…spin is one thing. The electorate can read. No going back in my opinion. I am sure Alysha feels he can be Prime Minister.