Thursday, November 27, 2008

If you want to play chess, let's play!

Everyone has an opinion as to how the opposition parties should respond to Harper's latest machievellian ploy. My favourite idea, plucked from various blog comments sections, would be for the opposition parties to amend the public finance bill, either in committee or in the House (I'm not sure on the exact procedure).

Stick on an amendment that phases in changes over 10 years so that the parties can build up their grass roots fundraising machines. During the 10 year transition, the rule would be that public funds are only available such that public funding + private donations cannot total more than 15 million a year (or, whatever is deemed to be the number that best screws over the
Tories, and only the Tories).

After all, if it's about principle, certainly this seems fair. It's not without precedent - as Stephen Taylor points out, Obama opted out of public funding in the states. And if it's about making sacrifices in light of tough economic times, well, this would be a grand selfless gesture on the part of the Tories.

Check.

Your move Steve.

38 Comments:

  • Your proposal, I would argue, is clearly unconstitutional.

    Obama didn't need 10 years to transition. All one needs is a good leader with a good message.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 1:48 PM  

  • Unconstitutional on what grounds?

    By Anonymous money and/or the ethnic vote, at 2:01 PM  

  • Brilliant.

    Not being a constitutional lawyer, I can't argue legality with authority, but I suspect if it would be constitutional - there seems to be piles of Canadian case law and precedent that leads to the conclusion money and speech are not analogous.

    Alternatively, you could get the same effect by proposing spending limits outside of election periods of say... $5 million in non-election years, or the number that best screws over the Tories, and only the Tories.

    It would also close a pretty serious loophole in our financing rules that allows pre-election spending to go on without limits.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 2:01 PM  

  • Equal treatment before the law.

    You can have a law that limits individual donations to a certain amount, but it would certainly be unconstitutional to limit the number of individual donations that can be accepted by a political party.

    A law which commingles public subsidies and private donations into the same pool would fail the test of equal treatment before the law, and particularly as it applies to political speech. It would also mean that the tax deduction for political donations would not apply to everyone. How would the government decide who gets to claim a tax deduction and who doesn't.

    One has to have a set of rules for public subsidies that applies equally to all political parties, and a set of rules for private donations that applies equally to all political parties.

    I don't understand why the NDP would be opposed to this proposal. They arguably would be the biggest beneficiary of the elimination of public subsidies.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 2:09 PM  

  • I don't know the constitution in the kind of details WSISYW seems to.... I agree that Obama didn't need 10 years, but on the other hand, let's face it - we don't have a BHO. :(

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 2:10 PM  

  • Why should taxpayers continue to support political parties for another 10 years...Canadians will decide now who they want to support with their own donations....Democray at it's best...
    Well...lets see if I have this right, it would be undemocratic for political parties to raise private money from the Canadian population. How can that be? If the public refuses to support a political party with small donations...is that not a democratic decision.
    What is deomocratic about taxpayer money being used unevenly to support the party in Power.
    It's clear that this current policy was put in place by the governing Liberals to allow them to use taxpayer money to keep them in power against a divided right...but, the tables have now turned...and Stephen Harper is taking this governing advantage away...all parties will be on the same and equal footing...no party will now be able to use taxpayer money to stay in power...especially the governing party.
    That decision will now be made by individual Canadians...and what can be more democratic than that....political parties seeking donations from grassroots Canadians...democracy at its best....

    By Anonymous Cliff, at 2:11 PM  

  • Love it. I think you are the smartest highly unpaid Liberal strategist.

    By Blogger whopitulia, at 2:12 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 2:15 PM  

  • This comment has been removed by the author.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 2:15 PM  

  • Are the self-absorbed Liberals having a hard time dealing with the fact they can't function without a government welfare cheque? Set up a fund-raising network like Obama or the Conservatives have. Prove your intelligence and ability-before asking to run the country.

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 2:16 PM  

  • whyshouldIsellyourwheat: I'm not sure your argument passes the commonsense test.

    Why would tax deductions not continue to apply to everybody? If I make a contribution, and the party can accept the contribution, I get a tax receipt. Same is true for me, Joe Six-Pack, Joe the Plumber, Amtrak Joe, and any other Joe out there. Seems equal.

    A law which co-mingles public subsidies and private donations into the same pool would be the same as we have right now: some money coming from public sources, some private. Seems with precedent.

    Each party would be subject to the same limits. Your argument on this front is like arguing the spending limit during elections is unfair because the Conservatives have more money. NDP, Liberal, Green, and Tory - all limited to the same fundraising amount. Seems fair.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 2:17 PM  

  • oh this is going to be sweet . . . twist, turn, squirm, cry, whinge.

    Fish, barrel, shoot.

    Too easy.

    By Blogger Fred, at 2:22 PM  

  • It would still play to the Tory advantage. They could say that they're taking 0$ from Canadians while the Liberals are taking X$ million. They still get a political win out of it, don't they?

    I wrote an unrelated rant about politics:
    http://vollman.blogspot.com/2008/11/charismatic-leadership.html

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 2:22 PM  

  • It would be constitutional. You're limiting the amount a party can take in donations - just the amount a party can take in public financing.

    If the Tories raise 20 million, they still get the 20 million. They just don't get any public $.

    I also really like Corey's proposal to limit non-writ election spending. Tack it on, along with every other dickish proposal that hurts the Tories.

    The point is not about being fair. If Harper wants to play games, then you have to play games in return.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:45 PM  

  • //If the Tories raise 20 million, they still get the 20 million. They just don't get any public $.//

    It is NOT equal treatment before the law, which is expecially important when constitutional rights like free speech are involved. The rules for public money have to treat each political party equally, or the government is picking favorites with regard to political speech.

    The government cannot give one political party $15 million dollars, and another zero. That is clearly unconstitutional, I would argue. There have to be rules which are non-discriminatory. A system where one party gets $15 million and another nothing is clearly unfair, and such a result is clearly possible under your proposal.

    By Blogger whyshouldIsellyourwheat, at 2:54 PM  

  • Let's get rid of the tax refund for donating to political parties. Why should the taxpayers subsidize $75 when someone donates $100 to the Conservative Party?

    By Blogger Skinny Dipper, at 2:58 PM  

  • The better question is, why won't Liberal voters donate $100 to the Liberal party when they get $75 back?

    By Anonymous Michael Fox, at 3:06 PM  

  • Here's a little reality for those who are squawking about how unfair public funding is to the taxpayer. When you add in the other forms of public funding (rebates to individual donor and riding association rebates) here's what happens.

    Under the current system the Conservatives would receive 48.5% more public funding than the Liberals. Under the new system where the $1.95 per vote is removed however, the Conservatives would receive 60.5% more public funding than the Liberals.

    Justify that greedy move.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 3:13 PM  

  • >>
    Stick on an amendment that phases in changes over 10 years so that the parties can build up their grass roots fundraising machines. During the 10 year transition, the rule would be that public funds are only available such that public funding + private donations cannot total more than 15 million a year<<

    Let me get this straight Dan. You're advocating the Canadian taxpayer actually wean political parties off our freaking money over ten years?

    Only in Canada, eh?

    By Blogger The Grumpy Voter, at 3:27 PM  

  • Well, even if it IS unconstitutional, that doesn't matter. This is all showmanship - I wouldn't expect these laws to ever be implemented, nor should they (the status quo is fine with me, although the personal limit should probably be higher than it is).

    This is all about playing games - if Harper wants to argue it's unfair or unconstitutional he can.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 3:28 PM  

  • ''Under the new system where the $1.95 per vote is removed however, the Conservatives would receive 60.5% more public funding than the Liberals...
    Robert, that's only if are you assuming the Liberals will FOREVER be in opposition and the Conservatives will always have no less than 38% of the vote?
    Not very 'yes we can', is it?

    here's a test:

    Every Liberal supporter check their email inbox, now.
    Is there a donation appeal from the LPC 'due to the cynical ploy by the evil PMSH to rip off your money'??

    No? Why not?
    If the situation was reversed, we Conservatives would have received a donation appeal, yesterday...

    By Blogger wilson, at 3:28 PM  

  • ''If the Tories raise 20 million, they still get the 20 million. They just don't get any public $.''

    Are you assuming CG that Liberals will never be able to raise $20 million?
    Where is the 'yes we can'?
    You Libs positively think 'you can't'...so you won't.

    By Blogger wilson, at 3:32 PM  

  • If the situation was reversed, we Conservatives would have received a donation appeal, yesterday...

    Of course you would have, Wilson. But that's because the opposition parties are busy trying to find solutions to Canada's problems while the Conservatives are busy trying to find ways to pry money out of your wallet.

    By Blogger Robert McClelland, at 3:35 PM  

  • I'm trying to follow this best as I can...

    WSISYW:
    The government cannot give one political party $15 million dollars, and another zero.
    - I don't see where Dan is suggesting this?? Sorry for my confusion.

    WILSON:
    You Libs positively think 'you can't'...so you won't.

    Actually Wilson, Dan never suggested what you falsely claim -- try again if you like.

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 3:43 PM  

  • RE: CalgaryGrit

    "Stick on an amendment that phases in changes over 10 years so that the parties can build up their grass roots fund raising machines."

    Make it 4 years and you've got a deal. Seriously 10 years is a bit long... and probably wouldn't act as much of a motivation for the parties to alter how they fund raise.

    Also... they should DEFINITELY stick in a rule about spending between elections AND those obnoxious wasteful 10% mailers.

    By Blogger MERBOY, at 3:59 PM  

  • Wilson - No, I've been writting about what the Liberals should be doing to improve their fundraising mess for years.

    The point of a phase-in, would be to let them get up to that level on their own.

    You are right about using this as a fundraising appeal though.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 4:09 PM  

  • whyshouldisellyourwheat: Once again, I think you're missing existing precedent. It is entirely possible under the existing system for one party to get $15 million and another nothing.

    Well, okay not $15 million, but candidates and parties receive rebates based on the amount spent. By your logic, those rules would be discriminatory.

    ...in fact, they'd be worse, since you need 10% of the vote to be eligible.

    I say CG's proposal is legal, and smart, and even if I'm wrong, it's good politics. Somebody get me St├ęphane Dion on the line.

    By Blogger Corey Hogan, at 4:31 PM  

  • This is an interesting idea, but it sounds like you are indeed trying to cap the total a party can raise - if you remove that, it sounds plausible.

    Of course, if the complaint is that the Tory proposal is self-serving because it gives them a greater advantage, the opposition "phase-in" would be self-serving for the opposition because it'd a naked admission that their fundraising methods suck, and that they need to hamstring the Tories until they can catch up.

    Most interesting to me is what will happen after the vote. Normally the Liberals could simply abstain, but to let this pass would basically be slitting their own wrists. The Liberal Party, circa 2008, simply cannot maintain it's existence without public subsidies. But a coalition government? Headed by Stephane Dion? Inconceivable? Fascinating.

    By Blogger ALW, at 4:50 PM  

  • Interesting approach to having the LPC attempt to cripple the NDP.

    How do the Liberals plan to get it passed? That is, even if it weren't a matter of Confidence?

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 5:45 PM  

  • Wilson's right. The Liberals would have used this as a fundraising appeal if they were competent. Even the Green party has already sent out an email to supporters. It doesn't require much effort.

    By Anonymous Michael Fox, at 5:46 PM  

  • You guys are crazy. The reason this won't work is that it would mean, for example, that the party with the least number of votes could get the most money. For example, the Bloc could collect $0 in donations and get fewer votes than the NDP but get three times more public money. I'm sure Canadians will be thrilled when you tell them they have to subsidize the separatists.

    The only reason the current system passes the legitimacy test is that there is a direct connection between how many people vote for you and how much money you get. This plan shatters that connection, and nobody except a bunch of politics-as-sport internet geeks would consider it even within the realm of fairness.

    Good luck with that.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:57 PM  

  • Every Liberal supporter check their email inbox, now.
    Is there a donation appeal from the LPC 'due to the cynical ploy by the evil PMSH to rip off your money'??


    Why, no, there isn't.

    Fucking idiots.

    By Anonymous tony librano, at 6:31 PM  

  • I'm sure Canadians will be thrilled when you tell them they have to subsidize the separatists.

    Actually, I'm blown away to discover how much we actually do subsidize them already!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I was pretty indifferent to this whole story til I found that part out about the BQ -- now I understand why Chucker is so against the $1.95, and I'm starting to agree with him.

    By Blogger Bo Green, at 6:41 PM  

  • Uh, huh, Harper doesn't want to accept it now for political purposes. If he felt so strong about accepting the subsidy, why did he accept it all these years until now?

    You really feel this way Harper, then return the subsidies you received from day one. That would make a real statement, otherwise you are a hypocrite and a phony.

    I think Harper is the latter.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:46 PM  

  • Anon - No, public subsidies are based on votes received. So if the NDP gets more votes than the Bloc, they get more money.

    And to answer the other question, no, this wouldn't be capping the amount any party could raise. It's just capping the amount they can get in subsidies, as part of the phasing out of subsidies. Hell, make it a 4 year phase-out and the Tories might even agree to it, if only for the long term benefits.

    So, to recap. Public Subsidy Cap. End of 10%ers. Limit on out of writ spending. End the riding rebates. Raise the personal limit to $2,000. I believe the opposition still has a working majority on the finance committee so I believe it shouldn't be too hard to work out the logistics.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 11:10 PM  

  • I'd put in a clause about parties that run in 75% of the ridings in Canada; if you don't but you exceed the 10% vote level, you only qualify for a 50% subsidy (.98 cents); for those who contest in a 75% majority of ridings, the whole subsidy at full rate only applies to the first 3.2 million votes (10% of the population) received, it then is scaled down to 90% for the next 1m votes received (4.2), and just 75% subsidy value over and beyond 4.2million. Based on the past year's annual contributions to the parties, no subsidies will be paid out above the 4.2 million votes if said party has raised $4.2 million (ie they would get the subsidy up to 4.19 million votes but nothing beyond) in charitable donations. I'd maintain the donation deductibles.
    I'd also reduce pre-election advertising to $1million annually. And eliminate release of polls 144 hours prior to election day.

    By Blogger burlivespipe, at 4:22 AM  

  • Maybe parties should be required to pay the tax credits which their contributors receive. If the tories want the government completely out of political parties, then the tax credit is fair game too.

    By Blogger Stephen, at 9:41 AM  

  • This cannot truly work, I believe so.

    By Anonymous contactos barcelona, at 2:20 PM  

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