Archive for December, 2008

It’s just plain wrong

Thursday, December 11th, 2008

By Ken Waddell
Late last week the following quote appeared in the National Post
“A clear majority of Canadians believe that political parties should not be funded by the public purse, according to a new poll that suggests Prime Minister Stephen Harper was on the right track when he eliminated the subsidy, sparking outrage from the opposition parties.
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 per cent of those polled said that the subsidy should continue to exist.”

When the Conservative government lead by Prime Minister Stephen Harper put out an economic update late in November one of the most controversial pieces was eliminating the $30 million in annual subsidy to political parties. Many Canadians don’t (or didn’t) realize that the taxpayers subsidize political parties in a big way. This $30 million comes from a gift of $1.95 per vote per year to the federal parties.
The opposition parties clearly didn’t like getting their funding cut.
But the story gets better. Political parties are supported in two other tax payer funded ways. Donations to political parties must come from private individuals but the donor gets a significant tax credit for the donation. In some cases, up to 75 per cent. In addition to that candidates get 50 per cent of their election expenses back from Elections Canada after each election
Now this $1.95 so-called vote tax was brought in by the liberals. It was to replace corporate and union donations and restrict donations so donations could only came from private donors as mentioned above.
The Conservative party of Canada changed their fund raising and over the last few years has built up a huge donor base. The average donation to CPC is only a 100 bucks or so. That means they have thousands of private donors. It’s been a successful strategy and a simple one that is open to any political party
The other parties haven’t been as smart or successful in changing gears. The Bloc Quebecois hasn’t even tried. They only raised $78000 in the past year but received millions in tax payer money. That annoys many Canadians. As columnist Andrew Coyne said “Let them fund their own treason.”
Publicly funding political parties, especially by this third stream is just not right. It should be stopped. Harper was right. The opposition wrong.
However Harper didn’t have the numbers to win the vote and he nearly lost government over the issue. He still could.
And rest assured party funding is the big issue. Understand that opposition parties can bleat all they want about fighting for the good of the country and economic stimulus packages but it’s got little to do with that. The opposition parties are fighting for their lives. They are broke. They didn’t adapt and they got caught. Canadians don’t want to fund this folly any longer so the sooner the law can be changed the better. $30 million better. Each year, every year.


kwaddell@kenwaddell.ca This is a Sunrize Group internet solution (204)226-2247