Monday, August 10, 2009

Coming Soon to a Platform Near You

...assuming the Tories actually bother to release a platform this time, that is.

Stephen Fletcher reiterates the call to eliminate public subsidies of political parties - I think it's a safe bet we'll be hearing about public subsidies, coalitions, and all the other things that made the end of last year so much fun, whenever an election is called:

Canadians outside of Quebec find it galling that the Bloc Québécois, whose raison d'être is Quebec sovereignty, receives 86 per cent of its funding from the federal government, said Democratic Reform Minister of State Steven Fletcher, who is calling for an end to political party subsidies.

"Virtually every Canadian is forced to make involuntary contributions based on parties' results. I know a lot of people in other parts of the country are not pleased that ... the vast majority of the funding that one particular party [the Bloc] gets is from this voter subsidy," he told The Hill Times last week.

As for Fletcher's straw-man argument against the BQ - I hate the Bloc, I would vote for the Tories before I voted Bloc and I would rather the Conservatives win seats in Quebec than the Bloc. But, so long as they're a political party, you have to treat them the same as everyone else. And, even if you scrap the public subsidies, there would still be millions (of taxpayer dollars) going to the Bloc and their MPs through other salaries, subsidies, and budgets.

20 Comments:

  • Ipsos Reid poll:

    Sixty-one per cent of voters said they oppose federal political parties securing $1.95 annually for each vote, which is a major source of party funding.

    On the other hand, only 36% of those polled said that the subsidy should continue to exist.


    Considering the Libs have leaarned to now live without it, I'd say we can do the will of the voters and get rid of it now.

    By Blogger ridenrain, at 4:47 PM  

  • "even if you scrap the public subsidies, there would still be millions (of taxpayer dollars) going to the Bloc and their MPs through other salaries, subsidies, and budgets."

    Isn't it funny that in all their righteousness about taxpayer subsidies, the Conservatives don't mention the much bigger and much less democratic tax subsidy that they benefit from the most, namely the 70% tax credit.

    The per vote subsidy at least has the benefit of being democratic: I vote for X, X gets $1.95 out of tax dollars. So supporters end up subsidizing their preferred party. The non-voting taxpayer gets burned, but otherwise the tax subsidy reflects democratic voting.

    The tax credit the Tories don't want to talk about results in something less democratic: I vote for X, X and the Conservatives get my tax dollars (eg: if I donate $100, it costs me $25 and all taxpayers $75 so the more donors you have the more you take from everyone, a veritable socialist scheme!). So supporters end up supporting their party AND the Conservatives.

    Until Harper deals with party susidies honestly, it should be treated for what it is: an attempt at a partisan wedge issue and not a matter of any principle.

    And Fletcher's musings should also be taken for what they are: a trial balloon to see if Canadians are just as angrily opposed to this kind of partisan gimmick now as they were in the fall.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 4:47 PM  

  • The tories could save way more money if they simply eliminated the 100 million dollars in advertising for the home renovation tax credit and economic action plan. No one is under the impression that these ads serve any purpose other than to advance the political aims of the CPC.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:24 PM  

  • Well, it would help if they actually passed the home reno credit into law before they cancelled it.

    Especially since, with construction jobs doing worse than most other sectors, it is not having the desired effect.

    Isn't there something illegal about advertising for a law that has yet to become law?

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 5:35 PM  

  • Good calls, CG.

    It's not a big deal to me either way about the subsidies, I just don't care that much. But you're right on your points here, imo.

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 6:32 PM  

  • Isn't it funny that in all their righteousness about taxpayer subsidies, the Conservatives don't mention the much bigger and much less democratic tax subsidy that they benefit from the most, namely the 70% tax credit.

    Too right, Ted. Pretend righteousness. The Conservatives' goal here is unrelated to responsible use of our money, it's knee-capping their hated enemies.

    By Anonymous Jason Bo Green, at 6:35 PM  

  • Someone in the Liberal Party should crunch the numbers to see how much more public money (both per vote subsidy and tax credit) the Tories got compared to the Grits since the financing reform. Or maybe it's been done already, and they're waiting for the election campaign (maybe even the debate) to break it out if the Tories bring up the issue.

    By Anonymous Election Watcher, at 8:49 PM  

  • Interesting: voluntarily contributing to a political party is considered to be undemocratic. Very interesting.

    By Blogger paul.obeda@, at 8:55 PM  

  • My thinking is that the Tories would like to have the home reno credit still not law by the time an election happens so they can blame the Liberals for killing it.

    Fair enough - the Liberals have used similar arguments in the past...but given how popular the program has been, I could see the Tories trying to scare voters that their tax credit won't be coming if they vote Liberal.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 9:06 PM  

  • Except, and correct me if I'm wrong, but don't they control when it actually gets introduced for a vote? and they have yet to do so.

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 10:40 PM  

  • No Paul. Having taxpayers who voted for another party subsidize your party is undemocratic. Which is what happens when you donate to the Conservative Party: the rest of us top up your payment.

    At least the per vote subsidy tries to line up with voter support (non-voting taxpayers aside).

    By Blogger Ted Betts, at 10:42 PM  

  • To have the almighty dollar play gatekeeper to one's access to a democratic voice via a political party is the only source for outrage. Doing so will ensure that only the interests of those who can pay will be looked after in Parliament, which is the antithesis of fairness.

    By Blogger Chris S., at 10:44 PM  

  • Just because something is in the naked partisan interest of the Conservative party does not mean it is isn't in the national interest.

    Canada needs one of the following if it is to end its present tendency towards political instability:
    1. representative Majority governments
    2. Electoral reform

    Electoral reform (take your pick on the approach) will never happen because it would probably require constitutional change (which is impossible) and would probably go against the interests of the two big parties.

    Public financing, coupled with spending caps, has helped revived the Bloc and NDP, while leading to a marked rise in Green support. All of these trends started with Chretien's finance reforms (and adscam). This prevents majority governments.

    Now that the Liberals have gotten their fundraising act together, I do hope that some compromise on financing will be possible.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 2:12 AM  

  • Amazing - $1.95 is a pretty cheap way to support the party of your choice. Yet, people whine about it. Hmmmm....no complaints about the enormous amount of ten percenters going out from the Cons at taxpayer expense though. I've received at least 19 so far from mid-Jan to the end of July. If you don't think that excessive there's something wrong. Add up my taxpayer funded postage/print costs and it comes to FAR MORE than a measly $1.95. So, $1.95 for democracy is not okay with some, but a hell of a lot more for campaign style partisan BS is okay.

    Some people have a twisted view on how money should be spent.

    Funny, the US has been toying with the idea of public financing because the costs of elections and money can buy an election - which is not democratic.


    sad - what a bunch of cheapwads.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:45 AM  

  • Interesting: voluntarily contributing to a political party is considered to be undemocratic. Very interesting.

    Ok, but it's not YOUR $1.95 that is going to the party you voted for Paul. Ted said it best:

    The per vote subsidy at least has the benefit of being democratic: I vote for X, X gets $1.95 out of tax dollars.

    Exactly. Out of tax dollars. Quite a few voters don't even pay taxes. Others pay a heck a lot more taxes than another.

    Ted says it another way (although in a different context):
    No Paul. Having taxpayers who voted for another party subsidize your party is undemocratic

    Exactly. Let's assume people who pay a lot of taxes mostly support Party X, and people that pay little or no taxes mostly support Party Y.

    That means that the people in the first group voted for Party X, but a lot of their tax money is going to Party Y.

    Bottom line: Political parties should secure their own funding, and not hijack it from the voters. That includes the $1.95, that includes the tax credit, and it includes everything that the ruling power does to their advantage, regardless of whether we're talking about Liberals or Conservatives.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 11:11 AM  

  • bo green is nuts, as always.

    donating to a party means that any group of citizens can by grassroots organization form a political movement that addresses some important issue (at least to them).

    the per vote subsidy entrenches the existing parties and makes them more competitive against new political movements.

    now, not all political movements are good, but I think we can all agree that most of the time, people fight for good and just causes.

    If I'm to understand this:

    The Bloc needs this money desperately because it can't survive on donations. It can't survive on donations because nobody cares about Quebec separatism and therefore no one feels compelled to make it happen.
    The per vote subsidy makes the Bloc Quebecois a zombie political party. Zombie political parties, just like in the movies, are really bad.

    By Blogger Chuckercanuck, at 11:02 PM  

  • Chuckercanuck: "the per vote subsidy entrenches the existing parties and makes them more competitive against new political movements."

    As a Green, I have to say that this couldn't be further from the truth. CG correctly points to the myriad benefits of getting elected in our system, which entrench old-time parties. James Travers also talked about in his series this summer: every MP receives a massive budget for staff salaries and for maintaining offices in the riding.

    The Bloc are getting tens of millions of dollars to pay their staffers, fund their offices, and pay for mailings. That would amount to well over $20 Million per year. By comparison, the Greens receive less than $2 Million per year in this subsidy.

    So, for similar numbers of voters, we receive less than one tenth of the Bloc support. Take away this subsidy and the Bloc will remain perfectly well entrenched, but the Greens will lose all their public funding.

    By Anonymous Mike, at 9:56 AM  

  • The answer to me is simple - on the bottom of the ballot should be a checkbox that asks, "do you want to fund the party of your choice with a $2 subsidy"?
    It would provide people the choice of having their vote counted towards a subsidy; unlike the 70% tax credit, no one other than the original donor can direct its whereabouts. Sounds like a huge political ponzi scheme to me. No wonder Harper loves it. (and has to his credit been wildly successful at utilizing it)

    By Blogger rockfish, at 1:13 PM  

  • The answer to me is simple - on the bottom of the ballot should be a checkbox that asks, "do you want to fund the party of your choice with a $2 subsidy"?

    AND there would have to be a slot where you could deposit your 2$.

    Because otherwise for most Canadians it's actually someone else's 2$ being directed to your party of choice when you check that.

    By Blogger Robert Vollman, at 6:10 PM  

  • Fletcher: "Virtually every Canadian is forced to make involuntary contributions based on parties' results."

    NOT. The Bloc get their $1.95 from the people who voted for them, not from the involuntary contributions of those who didn't (whose $1.95 go to the party for which they DID vote).

    By Blogger hsk, at 2:10 AM  

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