The political purse strings have officially been tightened.
The elimination of public subsidies for federal political parties was a key plank in the Conservative party’s 2011 election platform. While the government plans to eventually get rid of the subsidies entirely, a 25 per cent reduction was introduced on April 1, 2012.
Eliminating the full subsidy is expected to save $27 million a year, and Stephen Harper says it will change the culture in Ottawa away from “constant campaigning.” The Conservatives are the most successful private fundraisers in the House of Commons, and while they will lose the most money from the subsidies removal, they have the most to gain politically.
The taxpayer funded per-vote subsidies were introduced by the Martin government in 2004, shortly after corporate and union donations were banned. Opposition members largely support the subsidy. In 2011, the late Jack Layton told the Globe and Mail that its removal will put political power back in the hands of the rich, and that the “mixed approach of public and private money” is ultimately better for democracy.