Daily Archives: April 16, 2011

Elimination of Per Vote Subsidies

No surprise that, if elected, a Harper majority government would move to eliminate the per vote subsidy for political parties.


Is it a bad thing? Well, I’m of two minds about this.

As we know, Jean Chrétien scrapped the old system of largesse from special interests, barring huge contributions from corporations and unions, and replaced it with one that allowed individual contributions capped at a certain level to be made to parties, supplemented by a public subsidy to parties on a per vote basis.

Now though, Harper wants to hack off the public subsidy portion of this arrangement. Why? Well, obviously because the Conservative Party has proven itself to be much more adept at shaking down individual voters for contributions through a sophisticated combination of high-tech outreach and old-fashioned scare-mongering of their perpetually frightened, and easily deceived base of faithful donors.

The argument Harper makes that taxpayers shouldn’t subsidize political parties sounds reasonable on its face. After all, it seems only fair that political parties should stand or fall on their ability to attract support through their own grassroots fundraising efforts. At the same time, there’s something to be said for direct public financing of political parties on a democratic basis that is doled out by the government on a per vote basis according to the level of popular support they receive at the polls. When doing so, voters are not only casting their ballot, but also intentionally making a donation via their taxes in support of their candidate/party of choice.

Here’s the bottom line: Considering that political donors presently gain a commensurate tax credit by doing so, then aren’t other taxpayers essentially having to foot the bill in part for the lost tax revenue that would otherwise have been paid into the treasury? If donations remain tax deductible, then millions of taxpayers are still helping bankroll parties they don’t support, albeit in a more indirect way. Therefore, if Stephen Harper truly wants to eliminate the government from involvement of any kind in the fundraising of political parties then he must also commit to eliminating the tax deduction for contributions.

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Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Conservative Party of Canada, Stephen Harper

Ethnic Political Ad

I guess this take-off of a Liberal ad aimed at the Punjabi community has been circulating for a couple of weeks now, but I just discovered it. Finally, some humour in this otherwise dismally uninteresting election!

The original ad accused Harper of being “out of touch” rather than having an insatiable blood lust, but given the distortions of the Conservative war room’s negative attack machine, maybe the Libs should have gone with the latter allegation.

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Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Humour, Liberal Party of Canada, Stephen Harper

Liberal Erection!

Michael Ignatieff at a rally in Sudbury, exhorting Canadians to shake off their “So what?” indifference to transgressions of the Harper regime and, borrowing an expression from Bruce Springsteen’s turgid post-industrial anthem “City of Ruins,” to “Rise up!”

I’m sure Ignatieff and the Liberals are frustrated that Canadians seem largely unperturbed by the various so-called scandals and abuses that have cropped up during Harper’s time in power. For whatever reason(s) however, they clearly haven’t managed to gain much traction, let alone generate a widespread sense of indignant outrage amongst most people. Well, at least not amongst those who weren’t already predisposed to a negative view of the Harper Conservatives.

I’m not sure that pleading with folks to “rise up” at this stage of the game will serve any purpose. I certainly don’t see it taking off like wildfire amongst voters in general. But then, it’s hard to see what would. The level of interest in this election seems remarkably low. In my area, there are almost no signs at all — in fact, there were a lot more for the recent civic elections and we all know what the turnout for those are…

Update: A little more context provided in this report from CBC’s The National.

Towards the end of the coverage in the above clip, the discussion turns towards online voting, which is something that I’ve long advocated as being an option. Perhaps after the historically low turnout that I predict will occur in this election, maybe it will be given more serious consideration.

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Filed under 2011 Canadian Election, Michael Ignatieff