Friday, June 11, 2010

Friday Link Grab Bag

1) Hop on the big red bus - it's time for a summer road trip! Hopefully the bus rolls across the Prairies because...

2) ...the National Post also believes the Liberals should look West. I'm always worried when I agree with the Post but, then again, the paper might start looking downright socialist when compared to...

3) ...Kory Teneycke's FOX News Canada! I'm actually curious how this turns out and I'm encouraged by their first hire, David Akin. Let's put it this way, I don't think we're going to see Akin crying at the chalkboard as he re-arranges the letters in IGNATIEFF to unearth the Hitler-esque nature behind Iggy's corporate tax freeze.

Of course, the Liberals may not survive long enough for FOX Canada to destroy them, since...

4) ...La Presse talks about the Tories running on a pledge to scrap voter subsidies in the next election, which they say would kill the Liberal Party.

I tend to disagree. Here's what I wrote in March on this:
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:

CPC 37%
Lib 43%
NDP 55%
Green 62%
Bloc 82%

The, Bloc, Greens, and NDP would be hurt far worse by this move than the Liberals. Moreover, if the Liberals and Tories agreed to Jeff Jedras' suggestion of raising the limit back to $5,000, the Grits, who rely more on big donations than the Tories, could close the fundraising gap between them even further.

Sounds like a great platform idea for...

5) ...the new Liberal-Conservatives! I'm pleased to see Tom Walkom has joined in on my crusade to merge the two parties together. Well, maybe not a merge, but at the very least they could be...

6) partners!


  • Very good reading. Thank you. (Particularly the link the National Post in #2)

    Jeff Jedras is absolutely right about ending the voter subsidy too.

    By Blogger Issachar, at 1:24 AM  

  • Maybe Faux News will hire Don 'The Hawk' Cherry. Then I can unmute my TV during hockey breaks.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:12 AM  

  • I think Fox New Canada copies the Americans too much. How about Loon News?
    How would the Liberal-Conservatives differ from the Conservative-Liberal coalition we've had for the last few years?

    By Blogger nuna d. above, at 1:04 PM  

  • This is directed more at the guy than you who's just linked to you, but:

    So what if you have a circle-jerk meeting of the small-headed minds with some other (mostly younger) bloggers on wanting to eliminate the voting subsidy to try to screw the other parties worse: it's still a bad idea, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is, do any of you have any idea how much it costs to run effective campaigns, esp. against an effective propaganda machine like the Harper-Cons? Or, how annoying it is to be hit up for donations all the time? Or how that does a disservice to the actual charities this competes with? Or how it contributes to the polarization & Fox- & dumb- & USA-ification of Canada... not to mention how disenfranchising it is for those of lesser means. Plus this is a very ugly motivation some of you are showing which'll blow both election & coalition chances by showing you're just as bad & ruthless as the Cons... just not as good at it. You don't represent progressive thinkers at all.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:49 PM  

  • I don't think most Liberal bloggers have much in mind other than strategy and some semblance of personal ambition. That, in any case, was my impression of Young Liberals I knew during undergrad - smart, capable, not terribly concerned with specific policies or principles, and not ideological in the slightest. That's not intended as an insult, as a lack of concern with explicit ideological systems is generally a "good thing" in a politician or partisan.

    By Blogger Josh, at 8:06 PM  

  • Anon 2:49, nice combination of anti-Harper invective with a call for less partisanship.

    Your core concern appears to be that the absence of the vote subsidy will lead to the USA-ification of Canadian politics. Of course the subsidy - introduced in 2003 - is hardly a third rail of Canadian politics.

    Indeed, I suspect that you would consider the period since it was introduced to have exhibited heightened USA-ification/dumbification of Canadian politics. I agree, and I think Chretien's 2003 finance reforms have a great deal to do with it.

    The vote subsidy, caps on corporate/union donations combined with previously existing caps on election spending greatly increased the competitiveness of smaller parties (incidentally I think Chretien's aim was to keep the PC party alive and retain the split on the right). In 2003 the Greens were nowhere, and the Bloc was on the ropes. Today both are much stronger, as is the NDP (which is able to spend an equal amount to the Liberals in elections).

    In a world where new party entry is essentially subsidized we get many small tents. Parties must cater to their own narrow partisans, otherwise they may face a revolt. Harper has avoided being zombie Stanfield for a good reason - if he did that he would face another reform party.

    So what gives - am I arguing that two-party systems are less partisan? In Canada, yes. Canada is a party-dominated system due to traditions of strong party discipline. The primary aim of every party leader is to win more seats. In a two party environment, the way to do that is to make broad appeals to the great middle of the country.

    In the US, by contrast, you have a member-dominated system. Party discipline is weak and the president has little power. Parties are collections of narrow parochial interests who must be satisfied by those in power. Unions and trial lawyers for the Dems, Evangelicals and oil companies for the Republicans.

    High-minded debate requires the consolidation of the left. Consolidation of the left requires the reversal of Chretien's campaign finance reforms.

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 9:01 PM  

  • Nonsense. Canada has not had any semblance of a two-party system since before the Great War. Are you suggesting that "high-minded debate" has been absent from Canadian politics for 90 years? Or that the vote-subsidy has much to do with the emergence of new parties? (Where did Reform and the Bloc come from, to say nothing of the CCF and Socreds?) The NDP's more recent success is a direct structural result of the disappearance of Reform/Alliance and a recovery of support in Ontario. They have simply returned to the level and distribution of support historic to the party (e.g. Hamilton, Northern Ontario, Vancouver Island, parts of rural/northern BC).

    The Greens are another matter, but it's worth pointing out that they have never attained the level of support in an election they routinely poll out. I'll be surprised if they can match their 2008 result next time.

    By Blogger Josh, at 10:45 AM  

  • Anon 2:49 here: just to clarify: we don't really disagree on the causes (just the next steps). My complaint is that the (need for) fundraising is what's driving the polarization etc.: the Con's are releasing weekly (or even daily!) Rush Limbaugh-like missives to their faithful, which gives all the con-bots their talking points for the week to flood the airwaves with. At this point, I'd rather there be no such divisive e- & letter-mail fundraising allowed at all, but _just_ the electoral subsidy.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 PM  

  • Josh,

    Okay, take everywhere where I said two party system and replace it with 2-and-a-half party system if that makes you happier.

    Anon 2:49 (you shall forever live as the time of your original post),

    The need for fundraising is partly driven by finance reform. The ban on corporate and union donations (which was tied to the vote subsidy) means that parties (other than the Bloc) must increasingly rely on their membership.

    Replacing fundraising entirely with the subsidy would be problematic too, because it would inject a huge incumbency bias into the system. The party that got the most votes last time would always have a significant financial advantage (in addition to the free publicity of being the government).

    My preferred solution is to relax restrictions on donations. Of course the problem there is one of whether governments act unfairly to campaign donors. To ensure probity you could either go for very good transparency, OR you could figure out a way to make all donations anonymous, so that parties would
    not know who donated money to them. They would just get a bunch of money at the end of each month, combining all of the donations (that way people couldn't signal that they had donated by donating weird amounts of money like 1777.77).

    By Blogger hosertohoosier, at 4:43 PM  

  • Any attempt to merge the Liberals into the Conservatives will result in a splitting apart of the Liberal party.

    The Red Grits will seek a merger with the NDP .. while the Blue Grits will either join the Tories or just sit it out together with the defunct Red Tories crying in their cappuchino or something...

    By Anonymous Observant, at 2:37 PM  

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