There are millions of good reasons (millions of taxpayers dollars!!) to eliminate the annual per-vote taxpayers’ subsidy of federal political Parties. Kudos must go to the Conservatives for promising to scrap this expensive life-line to political also-rans and Ottawa’s backrooms.
This political Party subsidy must go because:
1) Political parties already enjoy enormous tax advantages and taxpayers should not have to support parties they do not / would not support with their votes (such as the Bloc Quebecois movement!)
2) The subsidy payments provide a constant and generous flow of financial support to Parties that no longer need support of their Party members
3) Undermine the democratic process by artificially supporting also-ran political movements – and providing otherwise unattainable war-chests for election campaigns
The result of this subsidization of Parties has been to nurture political leadership that no longer reflects that of their grass roots (it doesn’t matter what Main Street says anymore when the cheque is assured) and the dawning age of Pizza-Parliaments (subsidies are steroid payments to NDP and Greens – and separatists Bloc Quebecois!).
Because the Conservatives have threatened Opposition Parties about the end of their gravy train run, there’s been much written about the $2 per vote subsidy. News columnist Andrew Dreschel puts it this way: Vote subsidies create political welfare bums.
To my mind, it’s just one more way the general public gets stuck paying for partisan political machines that should be responsible for bearing their own weight. Remember, candidates are also reimbursed for 60 per cent of their election expenses if they snare 10 per cent or more of the riding vote. And parties have 50 per cent of their election expenses refunded if they land at least 2 per cent of the popular vote. The plain truth is, the vote tax is a multimillion dollar ripoff.
Kevin Gaudet, speaking for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation in January, advocated that it was time to “pry political parties from taxpayer trough.”
Scrapping the Vote Tax subsidy, reimbursements and gold-plated tax credits would level the playing field for parties, requiring them to compete for donations. It would relieve taxpayers from some of the burden of funding political parties. It would eliminate one barrier to entry for new political parties. Finally, the cause of national unity would be helped if, instead of being subsidized by federal taxpayer dollars, the separatists would be forced to ask their few supporters for cash, instead of getting it from taxpayers.
Mark Milke, director of the Alberta office for the Fraser Institute makes the case: “The idea that public subsidies help democracy is ridiculous. What subsidies do is insulate political parties from Canadians. They don’t actually have to address the concerns of Canadians. It actually undermines democracy.”
PM Harper furthers this thought, when he explained on the campaign trail March 31st, “”This enormous cheque that keeps piling into parties ever month whether they raise any money or not that means we’re constantly having campaigns, the war chests are always full for another campaign. You lose one, immediately in come the cheques, you’re ready for the next one even if you didn’t raise a dime.”
Readers of By George Journal will know our distaste for per-vote subsidies and our re-occurring call to end this scam of Canadian taxpayers. Bottom line: it’s time political Parties got off the dole and raised their own political war-chests.