The End of 10-Percenters?
MPs have voted to put a stop to the practice of mailing taxpayer-funded political flyers to voters outside their own ridings.
In a surprisingly close result, MPs passed Tuesday a Liberal motion to scrap the so-called ten percenters by a vote of 140-137.
New Democrats, who had argued in favour of retaining the right to communicate with voters all across the country, ended up supporting the motion, which included several other proposals aimed at saving the government more than $1-billion annually.
The Bloc Quebecois also supported it while Conservatives, who've made the most use of the mailouts, were opposed.
Even though the Liberals are trumpeting this as a binding motion, in reality, we've descended into the kind of procedural grey water that only Kady O'Malley, and maybe 1 or 2 of the party whips actually understand. From what I've read, it appears a super secret all-party committee will be discussing this on Monday. Complicating the issue is that Stephen Harper has shown a willingness to respect the vote he lost, while Jack Layton is suffering some buyers remorse on the vote he won:
In fact, the NDP, which voted for the Liberal motion, may be the party that gets the Conservatives off the hook on the bulk-mailing issue.
NDP Leader Jack Layton launched a blistering tirade against "King Stephen Harper" only to waffle when it came down to whether his party would actually support the ten-percenter ban behind the closed doors of the Board of Internal Economy meetings.
"There were some (measures in the motion) where we would have done it slightly differently and so we'll have to take those issues up at the Board of Internal Economy," Layton said when pressed on the ban.
His party House leader, Libby Davies, indicated the ten-percenter vote may be the jumping-off point for a negotiation over bulk mail.
"We believe we've got to focus on the abuses and not rule out what is a legitimate use of ten-percenters by members outside of their own ridings," Davies, who sits on the board, said in an interview.
So they voted for it, even though they're against it. O...K...
And no one, not even the Liberals, seem to be pretending that the rest of the motion - which calls for the government to slash a billion dollars in partisan advertising and consultant expenses - has a chance of actually happening.
But, just to toss a nutty idea out there - what if the Liberals agreed to a 5 year phase-out of the public vote subsidy? They're closing the fundraising gap on the Tories, and losing the subsidy would hurt the NDP, Bloc, and Greens more than the Liberals. Here's the percentage of revenue each party generates from the subsidy:
In exchange, the Conservatives would agree to trash the billion dollars in partisan expenses the Liberal motion calls for. Because I'd wager the Conservatives are getting more value from that than they are from either their subsidy or fundraising dollars.
I doubt it would happen, but it's something to think about.