CBC ICI: Windsor Mayor Accused of Conducting Disguised Election Campaign

Rose City Politics host Don Merrifield in Windsor, Ont. on Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (Chris Campbell/CTV News Windsor)

The mayor of Windsor defends his decision to have attached a promotional insert to the tax notice sent to residents, a decision that, to many, resembles a campaign advertisement.

Dilkens has yet to say whether he will run in the next municipal election, but the insert, he explains, is similar to those that have been included in tax bills over the past two years.

« I make no apologies for reaching out to the residents of my city and telling them about all the great things happening here. »

Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor

The ad in question is a double-sided leaflet featuring photos of the mayor on a podium that reads a $5 billion investment for the auto industry, in reference to the future battery factory for electric vehicles. It also highlights the creation of about 3,000 jobs in this sector.

A promotional insert.

The other part of the fact sheet called Delivering Results refers to the City’s $1.7 billion ten-year investment plan, new playgrounds and park improvements, and investments in roads, trails and bike paths.

Ethical questions?

Lydia Miljan, a professor of political science at the University of Windsor, questions the ethics of the approach.

“I think it’s very unusual for a campaign ad to be inserted into your tax bill and it raises ethical questions about whether the use of taxpayer funds is appropriate to essentially give free publicity to the mayor,” she said.

Don Merrifield, co-host of the Rose City Politics podcast, calls the document blatant campaign material and says sending it with tax slips is inappropriate.

As a real estate agent, he is familiar with the cost of mass mailings and states that it would be a big expense for a candidate to make such a shipment on his own.

« This gives the mayor an unfair advantage over other candidates, from a simple financial point of view. »

Don Merrifield, co-host of the Rose City Politics podcast

When asked about the cost, Mr. Dilkens replied that the City paid for the mailing of the tax envelopes and their contents, but he did not think there was any additional expense.

You can put up to three or four ads in the envelope with the tax bills, so it’s not like it’s an extra cost for residents, he explains.

A man with a jacket and glasses.

Drew Dilkens says he refuses to apologize. PHOTO: CBC/AMY DODGE

In the past, Dilkens has indicated that he has not yet made a decision on his candidacy for the October 24 elections.

It is clear that everyone must be sensitive to what they do when they are running for office, he says.

« I’m not a candidate, I’m the mayor. I am worried about governing and I will continue to do so until the very last moment when I have to make a decision. »

Drew Dilkens, Mayor of Windsor

The deadline to declare your candidacy is August 19. So far, two people are vying for mayor, Ernie Lamont and Benjamin Danyluk.

This article first appeared on CBC ICI in French