Thursday, September 08, 2005

Blocking the Bloc

There's an interesting proposal being put forward by the Young Liberals to limit party funding based on the percentage of ridings they run candidates in. This is obviously the least subtle attack ever on the Bloc Quebecois.

While I hate the Bloc with a fiery passion, the proposal seems extremely illogical and undemocratic. The Bloc is already penalized for running in only one province since they can only get $1.75 per vote from Quebec voters. Even the Liberals get a few grand from the kamikaze ridings in rural Alberta they run candidates in.

This is just a proposed Young Liberal policy and even their policies that are approved by the entire party (think pot and hookers) get ignored so there's no way this would ever see the light of day. But it still strikes me as a bizarre issue to be crusading on behalf of.

18 Comments:

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    I'm just blown away by you CG. You're the only Grit actually critical of this proposal.

    You know, maybe I should drop this "draft Volpe" campaign and nominate you to replace Martin. People would actually like Liberals if that happened.

    As to the proposal:

    The Liberal solution to the democratic deficit is to eliminate democracy.

    Like Mubarak in Egypt, you can run for office, but only if you agree with the Liberal platform.


    Scariest thing: this facistic thinking is coming from the youth wing - is this the future of the Liberal Party of Canada?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:45 PM  

  • I agree; this is a rediculous attempt to undermine those parties who can't (or won't) run candidates in all ridings.

    By Blogger geoff, at 4:51 PM  

  • Hey QuebecHarpermaniac: CG's not the only one. Not sure how not paying the separatists more money from federal coffers is tantamount to "fascism" or how it forces Quebecers to agree with the Liberal platform, but it's not a bright idea and it's not going to go anywhere.

    TB

    By Blogger Cerberus, at 5:29 PM  

  • I actually think it is very logical, but it is a horrible political idea that I would never support.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 5:41 PM  

  • "Not sure how not paying the separatists more money from federal coffers...

    Because the ancilliary part of the law restricts how all political parties (not just the Bloc) can raise funds. In "exchange" for giving up their freedom to accept donations from Canadian citizens to promote a point of view, parties are given federal funds in proportion to the number of eligible voters who cast their ballot in favour of each party. This sort of proposal would say to those who cast ballots for particular parties that their vote, and their ability to direct campaign financing with it, is less worthy of recognition. This determination would be made on the basis of an arbitrary requirement - that the party run candidates all across the country.

    The Bloc (in this instance) is already "penalized" by only being able to gather votes in a restricted region. If you believe that Quebec voters should be allowed to vote for the Bloc (I don't like the fact that they do, but I am committed to the idea that it is within their rights), then why should their votes be less valuable to the Bloc than their neighbour's votes cast for other parties are to those parties?

    Jason - what's "logical" about it? Like many Liberal ideas, it is too clever by half, but I don't see the logic. Federal funding of election campaign costs is not a benificent gesture by our federal government, meant to promote a peaceful and united confederation; it is a compromise recognizing that elections are expensive and that free expression requires a certain level of spending for those promoting political platforms. To avoid the (supposed) dangers of allowing parties to solicit funds directly, we (through our Parliament) have decided to provide those funds in proportion to votes garnered. The only "logical" reason not to provide those funds on that basis is if the party in question is advocating an illegal act - sedition or treason. Unless they want to make that accusation explicitly, the YLs should not be making it implicitly through a gerrymandered funding process.

    Cheers,

    Dean

    By Blogger deaner, at 6:18 PM  

  • If you run in less ridings (particularly within one province), you have lower advertising costs. When the BQ gets as much money as it does to campaign in only one province, it actually gets an unfair financial advantage within that probinves. If I were writing the original law, I would have included this change. Now, though, it is much too late.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 7:17 PM  

  • What this proposal is essentially saying is that a vote for the Bloc is less valid. It's saying that a BQ MP is not equal to an MP from another party.

    This directly contradicts comments that have come from the Liberals party, and echoed by their supporters in the media very recently. Does anyone need to be reminded of this?

    By Blogger Toronto Tory, at 7:44 PM  

  • The proposal by the Young Liberals violates and contradicts the Libertarian foundation of the Liberal Party.

    By Blogger John Murney, at 8:53 PM  

  • I feel that it is a shame that the parties do not get more money per vote. $3, say, per as opposed to $1.75. The less clout corporations have the better.

    As to the issue at hand, although I do not support the Young Liberal suggestion, it is not totally without merrit; Jason hits the nail on the head in this regard.

    "When the BQ gets as much money as it does to campaign in only one province, it actually gets an unfair financial advantage within that probinves. If I were writing the original law, I would have included this change. Now, though, it is much too late."

    Travel expenses are also a factor.

    By Blogger Koby, at 9:04 PM  

  • The BQ does have an unfair advantage in that they can take Quebec's position on every single issue without having to worry about what's best for Canada. But I don't see how this works out to an economic advantage.

    Yes, they save on travel and advertising, but they can only get the 1.75 in the ridings they run candidates in. The Liberals could conceivably not travel or advertize in Alberta and the Conservatives could in theory not advertize or travel to Quebec. Or, at the very least, not spend more on advertizing there than the money the 10% of the vote they get in Quebec translates into.

    If each party received a lump sum of, say, 5 million dollars, then it would be an advantage because it would be split between 75 ridings instead of 308. But you can only get money in ridings you run in.

    Maybe it would have been better to do a formula of something like: X dollars per riding you run in plus $1.25 per vote. But like Jason says, at this point you can't really change it without getting a huge backlash.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:15 PM  

  • There are a lot of factors. It means that where the Liberals, Tories and NDP need to create "regional" campaigns on a national level with specific commercials and development costs, the BQ can make one provincial campaign, or regional campaigns within their province. It means that where the national parties need to expend resources renting jets and flying across the country, the BQ can rent a bus or even use rental cars.

    The national parties could stop focusing on areas where they are unlikely to win, but that would be a tendency away from the sort of unity that we would like to see in Canada. Indeed, it would probably be the beginning of the end of the country.

    Although the law cannot be changed now due to the nature of Quebec politics, this is something that should be changed if the BQ ever loses it's importance (and another regional party has not already arisen). There really is a principle at stake beyond Quebec nationalism.

    By Blogger Jason Cherniak, at 10:30 PM  

  • Since the Bloc takes part in the democratic process and plays by the rules, I don't see how it would be fair to deny them the same funding everybody else is entitled to. Any party should be free to decide about the presence of their candidates (or the absence thereof) in certain ridings. This excessive measure would turn out to be extremely bad publicity for the Liberals in Quebec. I don't think they need that kind of post-Gomery stumble -- they're already doing poorly enough.

    By Blogger Alex B., at 11:08 PM  

  • "If you run in less ridings (particularly within one province), you have lower advertising costs. When the BQ gets as much money as it does to campaign in only one province, it actually gets an unfair financial advantage within that probinves."

    Horsefeathers.

    I could equally argue that the Liberal Party gets an "unfair advantage," since they collect a disproportionate number of votes in urban areas, where travel and advertising costs are both cheaper. Perhaps we should discount the funding to parties that don't have a mix of urban and rural ridings (and perhaps apply that on a province by province basis), or those that have a disproportionate number of ridings in any given province, or...

    There are any number of clever little schemes to deny funding to the parties you don't like, based on the current electoral map. Every one of them is an attempt to gerrymander the rules for partisan advantage. Why is it no surprise that this kind of crap is coming from the Liberals, since partisan advantage is their only consistent party platform? I would also warn that the clever little trick this election could be an albatross around any party's neck if the electoral map shifts - but it's not my job to prevent the Liberals from scoring an own-goal.

    You either believe that -say- my vote in Richmond should be just as valuable to the party I support as your vote in Etobicoke or a Bloc voter's in Laval, or you don't. There is a name for people who believe in that sort of electoral equality between citizens - they are called democrats. People who don't believe that, and think that certain citizens should have a disproportionately large (or small) electoral voice are called autocrats - the YLs have demonstrated where they stand on that question, and so have you.

    Cheers,

    Dean

    By Blogger deaner, at 2:37 AM  

  • While I hate the Bloc with a fiery passion, the proposal seems extremely illogical and undemocratic.

    Since when do Liberals care about either?

    It's just giving the Bloc and PQ more ammunition for the next referendum.

    By Blogger Nastyboy, at 11:29 AM  

  • I wish it were true that the YLC's opinions were rarely utilized and transformed into policy. I will give them credit, they were the forebearers of the SSM issue, pressing for it for the better part of a decade. But the movement does a lot to torpedo public policy. They, along with the NDP, essentially hijacked the debate on BMD, cutting off any chance of the grown-ups to actually have a serious look at the issue and debate its merits and faults. As it is, their hardline stance against BMD caused a major headache between Ottawa and Washington, leading to the whole Mr. Dithers thing and a lot of anti-Canadianism in the American press.

    By Blogger RGM, at 1:11 PM  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    Maybe facist is not the right word - in light of the Liberal involvement in oil-for-food - let's call it Baathist:

    1) It is an attempt to muzzle legitimate political movements that the ruling party does not like.

    2) The ruling party is the party of the oligarchy we call Quebec Inc. (e.g. Power Corp).

    The sponsorship program, as we learned, was similar in its scope but targeted against conservatives.

    Even if this proposal dies, the idea will live on in the Liberal Party.

    10 years from now, Gomery will be inquiring into the "Federation Program"...

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:25 PM  

  • Hey Cerberus:

    QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    Separatists pay taxes. They are good citizens. Better than us, sort of, because they pay taxes to a government they don't believe in!

    Its their money too. They earned. Just because they are separatists doesn't mean YOU are more entitled to the money THEY contributed to federal coffers.

    And if separatists are not deserving of the tax dollars they contributed, why are they deserving of being appointed governor general???? (okay, cheap shot!)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:56 PM  

  • Sort of off topic but I caught the documentary Breaking Point on CBC this week. A brilliant look at the 1995 Quebec Referendum, from the point of view of those in government at the time. Brilliant. You should check it out. Comes out on DVD and in Hard Cover, soon.

    By Blogger Nastyboy, at 12:03 AM  

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