Paying for Politics - Macleans.ca
 

Paying for Politics


 

I’m surprised Tom Kent’s piece in yesterday’s Globe and Mail didn’t get more uptake. It’s really amazing how much the current disrepair of our democracy is a direct consequence of Chretien and Martin’s desire to screw one another over. Anyway, I quite liked this line about public funding of political parties:

“Few uses of public money are more indefensible.”


 
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Paying for Politics

  1. I agree with this sentiment. I would have no problem with removing all public funding for political parties, including indirect funding such as tax remissions.

    • Complete agreement here, but expect some to say "the poor can't afford to donate to political parties, and therefore will be marginalized."

      • We could solve that problem by spending the money that goes to political parties on the poor.

        • Even better, we could give that money to the rich and then it will trickle down to the poor. That makes more sense.

          • I'm glad your avatar was straight faced when you typed that Olaf!

          • You are stymied by heirarchical modelling and there by assume the rich are at the top. Money flow is better conceived of as a downward flowing funnel. The poor are at the top, the rich at the smaller bottom. Give the money to the poor and it will end up in the hands of the rich anyways, but to better effect.

          • Cut out the middle man, I say.

          • First you dis the poor, now you are going after the middle?

    • I still think that ensuring the availability of alternative viewpoints that have shown some resonance with the broader public is a public good in the political system. For that reason, I support some form of public subsidy to the parties. Of course, there needs to be a certain minimum popularity to the party in order to ensure that the alternative viewpoint being supported isn't simply a private good.

      I also think that any such support must be done in a democratic fashion. As such, I support the direct public subsidy, based on the vote, as being the most democratic, since it ensures that a taxpayer's money goes to the party whose views they support. The tax-credit form of subsidy is significantly anti-democratic since it takes tax revenue from all Canadians and redirects it toward the political parties with the wealthiest supporters.

      That said, more democratic yet would be to direct the money to the candidates, rather than the parties, and I'd certainly agree with that.

      But wouldn't the elimination of all public funding serve to stifle those parties whose viewpoints, while they may appeal to a significant fraction of the population, did not appeal to monied interests?

      • But wouldn't the elimination of all public funding serve to stifle those parties whose viewpoints, while they may appeal to a significant fraction of the population, did not appeal to monied interests?

        I think this is a common myth. Toronto is the wealthiest city in the country and one of the most Liberal. Take a drive around Rosedale; you will find multi-million dollar mansions with NDP signs on the lawns during elections.

        As an aside, you don't need to be rich to donate and people don't always vote in their economic interests. A party should be able to fundraise its way to success with out government subsidies, if their ideas are appealing enough.

        • Okay, except that doesn't answer the question. Specific examples of parties that are supported by monied interests, such as unions and corporations, in no way answers the questions of those parties that are not supported by monied interests.

          • IT's simple: allow only contributions from individual, identifiable citizens. No corporations, no unions, no churches.

  2. I would say remove the subsidy and remove the 50% spending subsidy, but do it over time and remove the individual donation limits.

    I would use taxpayer funds to buy blocks of media time during the writ period that will be distributed to political parties on a past-performance basis. However, no negative advertising will be permitted on these prepaid blocks.

    • Who would decide what was "negative" advertising?

      • Elections Canada could create a new position: Negativity Czar.

        • Is Olaf available?

          • If not him how about Emily?

          • Miss/Mrs/ms Negativity personified – lots of trainning.

      • It could be a very simple rule set that the broadcasters themselves can police. For example:

        (a) if the ad mentions the name of another party's candidate, it's automatically a negative ad;
        (b) if the ad uses the video image or an audio clip of another party's candidate, it's automatically a negative ad;

        There could also be an arbitration panel that would resolve challenges. Israel uses this kind of model in their elections, so it's not a novel idea.

        • I'm amazed that people want to assert so much control over elections, which in reality should be open to free speech.
          If the government has done a bad job, people should be able to say it! Same goes for the opposition.

    • on a past-performance basis

      There is no legitimate reason to fund anything based on past performance. That provides an unfair advantage to the incumbent, regardless of their performance. It can lead to an entrenched dictatorship. In fact, one could easily make the argument that since the party in government has all the levers of government at their disposal to promote themselves (whether will billboards at highway projects or ads on TV), it should be the challengers that receive the most funding.

      Based on a formula of past performance, Zanu PF in Zimbabwe would get all the available funding, even though they win elections by beating the crap out of opponents and jailing opponent leaders. But they win all the votes so they'd get all the funding to continue their reign of terror.

  3. Well, people complained that donations, particularly corporate donations , meant the govt of the day owed favours to the donors, and would govern accordingly.

    So it got changed.

    Now people are complaining again.

    • You mean that Liberals and Bloc and NDP are complaining.

      • Cons are complaining too….that's what caused the uproar after all.

        • Emily dear – you still don't get it do you?
          Doesn't matter whether Coroprate donations are limited to $1,000 or not – the corporations own BOTH major parties. Heck – ask John Manley of CCCE! Well – don't bother – but you know what I mean!

          • I don't like any of our parties.

            And our 'wings' are nonsensical.

            Rightwingers think the 'gubmint' is out to get them. Leftwingers think corporations are out to get them.

            Both wings are paranoid loons.

          • BINGO.

            Wingnuts to the left of me, wingnuts to the right of me.

            They're all nuts.

          • Obviousluy, in Emily's book only she is sane. You know what that meamns.

  4. What, you mean they aren't the same thing?

  5. Conversely however, not having healthy opposition poarties is not good for democracy.

    • I'd say its fine for democracy if they're unhealthy because no one is willing to support them. That's how democracy works, no?

  6. Hi all,

    I think that there is a lot to be said for phasing out the current system, however we should consider that the per-vote subsidy is the only proportional distribution of power in our system. The Bloc versus the Greens is a good comparison. While the Bloc receives seats, these seats translate into staffs, riding offices, offices in Ottawa, etc… the funding they receive through seats is orders of magnitude larger than the Greens, who only receive the per-vote subsidy. The Bloc have hundreds and hundreds of paid employees through the seats they hold and the Greens can afford a dozen employees.

    I'm with Tom Flanagan who said that if there is to be a change, it should be phased out and proceed from careful analysis of the facts. We should be careful to do this right – unlike how Chretien and Martin did it. Let's be fact-based and analytical……<sarcasm>just like the Harper Conservatives!</sarcasm>

    • Let me add that I don't begrudge MPs having salaries, offices, and a staff. I'm only pointing to the subsidy as the only proportional leverage in the system.

  7. I continue to lament that the Tories surrendered this hill so readily during the Eff-You Fiscal Update saga. The only saving grace, I suppose, is that this ace went back up a sleeve, to be pulled out later. This will be a worthy election campaign issue.

    Thanks for the link, Andrew. I missed that one yesterday. Go, Tom Kent, go!

    • I read article yesterday and first wondered who Kent was and why do I care what he thinks. Saw that he worked for Pearson, so was not hopeful, but was pleasantly surprised when I read column. I think it is outrageous that taxpayers are being forced to prop up political parties because they are incapable of raising money from base.

      If partisans can't be bothered to support their own party, why should the rest of us be forced to? Political parties don't have some inherent right to exist. In fact, I would be delighted if parties disappeared altogether and MPs were independents who have to work with one another to pass legislation.

      The two things that bother me most about Harper admin so far: not doing anything about free speech/human rights commissions and the decision to back down from their idea to end party funding. Harper is/was a coward when he backed down to save his job like he's the only capable of leading the country.

      • Right on. Para 2

  8. What about the socialists and the separatists? The threat to democracy comes from the desire to destroy your opposition. If it weren't the Liberals, it would be the NDP or the Bloc or the Greens…

    I particularly remember when Belinda Stronach generously helped out (Tony Clement in particular should remember this) so that Canadians had a strong alternative to the government. We now have Harper who wants to destroy anyone who opposes him, financially and personally, supported by people like you, using the ancient Welsh art of Llap Goch.

    • "destroy anyone who oppose him"

      I think you've been watching too many superhero cartoons on TV.

      • I have been reading the prime minister's comments about the possible outcome of the next election – a Harper majority or the political instability, like only Harper could spare Canada the pain of a recession. Someone has been watching too many superhero cartoons on TV, but it's not me. Harper may see himself as Superman. I see him more as a Liberace impersonnator.

        • I'm not fond of that line of argument, that a majority is needed. It makes no sense – politicians should just campaign for someone's vote, they should no campaign for something no individual can control.

          Anyway, he's campaigning for support. Campaigning is not destroying. Campaigning is not a threat to democracy.

          • Nor is campaigning governing. We should keep that in mind

  9. "It's really amazing how much the current disrepair of our democracy …. "

    I am slowly reading Robert Service's Comrades at the moment and it got me thinking the other day about Trudeau/Turner, Chretien/Martin and in UK Blair/Brown.

    Left wingers don't get along – constantly splitting into smaller groups convinced they are the only ones who know what's what – and can be quite vicious toward others who hold similar, but different, ideas and I wonder if that is what is happening in Liberal Party for past few decades.

    I agree that Chretien/Martin have a lot to answer for but I also think a lot of our democracy/parliament problems are due to cultural changes brought about by baby boomers.

    • That's just those on the left, eh? Which party has had the most spectacular falling out in recent decades?

      • Social credit.

        • Probably because it really was a coalition of members who were poulists and right of centre. So what are the baby boomers going to do? Who is going to cater to them after a lifetime as such, when those yopunger are fed up with getting secon teat? ?

          • A "poulist" is actually a populist. Sorry. Sounds like a French something or other.

    • I wouldn't agree that "left wingers" are the only group who squabble among themselves. The Republicans have a nasty fur fight going on among themselves (moderates vs. teabaggers) in the Benighted States, and the Reform vs. "progressive" conservatives split in Canada may erupt again if the CPC loses its government status or Harper moves on after yet another minority.

      • Good point. We call them Maritimers out here.

  10. I have no problem at all with the per-vote subsidy. It supports political activity that Canadians
    actually vote for. If any tinkering is required (?) it should be with the tax deduction .. a little
    harder to defend at it's current level. Mr. Kent has said a lot of things over years, most of which
    I could agree with. This is not one.

  11. Great link.
    Gives out a better perspective on the issue: before it was simply "the evil CPC wants to crush all opposition since they're so god damn amazing at fund raising!".
    I don't like that the CPC is most likely going to end up the winner if corporate donations are allowed once again, but I can't say it isn't fair.

    • Corporate donations have traditionally favoured the Liberal party.

      • Until they were banned. Things have changed now, we have a unified CPC, that will change the dynamics a great deal.

        • Corporate donations have traditionally favoured the party in power … or the party
          perceived as about to take power.

          • BGH is correct, IK think. It was just that the evil liberals were in so long.

  12. "It's really amazing how much the current disrepair of our democracy …. "

    Frankly I don't believe our democracy is in disrepair, at least not in the way Potter thinks. At least we somehow managed to transition from 13 years of Liberal "dictatorship", so democracy is alive and well.

    If he is in agreement that the taxpayer subsidies for parties is fundamentally wrong, then I agree, and I have been arguing that ever since the idea came out of Chretien's corrupted mind. It's abominable that it ever happened, but that's what you get with 13 years of uninterrupted power – you get haphazard dangerous decisions that don't face the slightest degree of scrutiny.

    Overall, though, I think Olaf has it right:
    "I think they're so darn cute when they equate the health of the Liberal party with the health of Canadian democracy. "

    Democracy is alive and well in Canada, despite the fact the Liberals won't be winning an election anytime soon, and they can't raise money without forcibly taking it from taxpayers.

    • 13 years of Liberal "dictatorship"…

      I love, love, that you think putting quotations around that word makes it any less offensive and preposterous. Let me try: “Harper's a ‘Nazi'”. Nope. Doesn't work for me; I've just made myself ill. I guess a commitment to knee-jerk Harperoidism tends to harden the stomach.

    • WOOOOOSH

    • Do they still owe zillions?

  13. Personally I'm torn on the whole issue.

    Even the current ceiling on donations is far beyond what 20-30% of the population can afford to donate, giving the more affluent more influence.

    The remission aspect is even worse. Anyone with enough money that they can wait for the refund at tax time is VERY likely to donate if they have even the slightest inkling to do so, because in the end they pay only $450 for a $1100 effect.

    The problem with public financing of course is that it rewards regional parties like the Bloc more-so than national parties like the Greens.

    It also suffers from the fact that a party which had lots of support in the last election keeps receiving the same benefit until the next election, even if they do something horrible, like say, I don't know, funnel money to private interests through a backdoor scheme to sell ads in Quebec? LOL

    I'm at a loss to say how we could formulate a fair system.

    • I'm at a loss to say how we could formulate a fair system.

      Easy. We ban political parties outright, thus liberating our ridings from the revolving overlordships shared by what are effectively unaccountable combines and vehicles of electoral racketeering, and demand that individual candidates raise their own money, while enforcing reasonable donation limits.

      • Ban political parties? You can't be serious.

        Freedom of association is in the constitution.

        I can just imagine it – people meeting in basement under the cover of darkness to share their political strategies. The RCMP show up and throw the lot of them in jail. How dare the elected members associate with each other!

        • Freedom of association is in the constitution.

          Great. Another liberal running behind the Charter's skirts in order to hold onto his privileges while evading common sense and the demands of civic discipline.

          Banning political parties would not infringe upon association rights to any greater extent than our current anti-trust and combines laws. Has the Crown infringed upon association rights by making it illegal for corporations to combine for the sake of artificially neutralising competition and sharing the resultant profits among them?

          Unlike Crown subjects, political parties are not endowed with specific Charter rights and do not, in fact, enjoy special protection of any sort under law; their very existence has barely even been statutorily acknowledged. Parties are governed under the Canada Elections Act, where they are treated essentially as clubs. I submit that it is time to see political parties as monopolies that exert an unacceptable level of competitive suppression upon what should be a free and open electoral market of ideas. The Canada Elections Act should be amended to reflect that fact.

          Federal and provincial candidates should still be free to run as members of slates, of course, as often happens in municipal and school-board elections, but the formal framework and fiscal apparatus of party organisation—with the generous tax privileges which a party's HQ uses to bankroll riding associations and the internal party discipline by which unaccountable party elites select and groom the candidates that suit elite agendas and thereby enforce ultimate loyalty to party rather than to country—needs to be totally dismantled. No other Parliamentary reform will mean jack squat unless this basic element of our democratic deficit is addressed. Our party system is irremediably broken, as the 50% or so of Canadians who cannot bring themselves to vote will tell you.

          • There is a difference between banning parties and removing some of the favourable treatment they get. For instance, there is the vote subsidy. There is also the tax credit. There is "official party status" and the tax privileges you mention. There are entrenched advantages, and I'd be in favour of removing them all. So I think I agree with you there.

            But you cannot ban parties. Invoking the charter is not evading common sense, the charter is common sense.

          • Our party system is irremediably broken…

            Is that what the 50% or so of Canadians who cannot bring themselves to vote will tell me?

            Or will they justify their MIA status with a feeble declaration of impotence, something along the lines of "it wouldn't make a difference anyway," which is usually an admission of total ignorance masquerading as conscientious abstention?

            Your using of the term "democratic deficit" reminded me of a sentence in a book I have just begun reading, CBC Massy Lectures: Necessary Illusions – Thought Control in Democratic Societies by Noam Chomsky. On page 4, Chomsky states:

            "Polls show that almost half the population believe that the U.S. Constitution–a sacred document– is the source of Marx's phrase 'from each according to his ability, to each according to his need,' so obviously right does the sentiment seem."

            Of course, Chomsky cites this an example of how unrepresented Americans are by their government(s) (the lectures are from 1988). I, however, interpret this as just another reminder that if we are to reform democracy, we will first have to reform the demos.

          • Reforming the demoes might be a laudable objective, but my hierarchical reactionary Tory soul tells me that we would need to reform the demoes' leadership first, and then proceed with a comprehensive top-down reformation (which I prefer to envision as a restoration).

            Chomsky's example reminds me of the time Sarah Palin was asked whether she supported the mandatory recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools. She responded by saying that if the Pledge was good enough for the Founding Fathers, it was good enough for her, thus clearly labouring under the misapprehension that the Pledge was part of the Declaration of Independence rather than a product of the late 19th century (authored by a socialist). Being gifted with a national leadership as obtuse and illiterate as that, why would the demoes even bother to undergo a meaningful reformation?

          • Being gifted with a national leadership as obtuse and illiterate as that…

            Are they being gifted? Or are they picking those leaders off the shelves for themselves?

            One might be tempted to ask: with a national leadership as obtuse and illiterate as that, why would the demoes not insist to undergo a meaningful reformation?

          • Or are they picking those leaders off the shelves for themselves?

            Palin may have been plucked off the shelf by Alaskans, but she was foisted on America by the irresponsible fiat of a single senescent mountebank and has had her gaudy notoriety sustained by a cabal of unelected program directors at Fox News. Let's not make the mistake Americans make, of speaking of America as if its agenda-setting were a democratic process. The Roman plebs under Vespasian had more impact upon the conduct of their public discourse than Americans under Obama have upon the conduct of theirs.

          • But the people, of their own volition, keep tuning in to Fox News.

          • A relatively small percentage of Americans tune into Fox News regularly, yet all Americans are fed a daily Palin diet, simply because she's a fetish item for a tiny coven of agenda-setting neo-con elites. I've never eaten at Wendy's in my life, yet "Where's the beef?" became part of my cultural lexicon, and not by invitation. Think of Sarah Palin as an annoying, vapid, yet devilishly brilliant jingle devised by a team of morally vacant ad-men, and you'll get a sense of how North America' current executive class sustains its rule.

          • And yet, even with "Where's the beef?" having crashed your cultural lexicon, you still managed to never eat at Wendy's in your life. Just because Americans are fed a daily Palin diet does mean they have to swallow any of it.

            In democratic politics, demand creates its own supply.

            If the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, North Americans have decided they have better things to spend their currency on.

          • …you still managed to never eat at Wendy's in your life…

            True. I had my psyche freighted with a cultural parasite without even having had the "pleasure" of tasting the "food" that inspired its genesis. Just like intelligent Americans must suffer the media ubiquity of Sarah Palin without even being able to find her funny. Worst of both worlds.

          • The most successful model for reforming the demos is The Great Learning, which Confucius saved from the bonfires of vain party politics (war actually). He firmly places the root of reforming the Empire (I suspect that this word, Empire, is an inexact translation of the Chinese ideogram) with the rectification of the heart . Order in the land flows from Jen (human-ness). Orderly personhood leads to orderly relations, which leads to… look it up for yourself, if you care to.
            There can be no orderly government without people who's lives are rooted in Jen (human-ness).

            Also of interest is Mencius on the question of profit – when profit is the pervasive metaphorical structure employed in determining a course of action to take, then disorder will prevail – every man for himself, etc.

            But maybe, JustinWordswrth, you have some other brilliant plan for reforming humanity.

          • Well, we could start by putting down the Confucian philosophy.

            I had always wondered who wrote those fortunes that fell out of the cookies that came with my egg rolls.

          • So, no, you do not have any brilliant plan.

            Fortune cookies don't come with the egg roll, they come with the bill.

          • I get take-out.

            Do I have a plan for reforming humanity? Yes, get them out of public education.

            I firmly place the root of reforming the Empire with the rectification of the mind.

            Also of interest is von Mises on the question of profit – "If profit is abolished, chaos results."

          • "If profit is abolished, chaos results."

            Would that explain why marriage and the nuclear family are such horrid institutions?

          • Obviously.

          • Fu gua

          • I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at here, Sir, but perhaps of some interest to you would be a suggestion I recently heard that abortions could be reduced if the pregnant woman could be paid to have the baby.

          • …abortions could be reduced if the pregnant woman could be paid to have the baby.

            I am afraid that has worked out rather badly in Québéc. Québécoises are paid quite handsomely to have their babies, yet abortions in the province continue to be as routine as Sarah Palin's butchery of English syntax.

          • You'll have to forgive me, I'm rather ignorant on the subject of abortions… I consider that stuff to be the chick's problem (relax, I'm kidding).

            I don't really want to get into this subject because I don't know anything about it, but I would suggest that if the market solution isn't working, it's because the price isn't right.

          • Why bring it up if you're immediately going to back away from it? Ah yes, to be *clever*.

          • It is much better served in the restaurant, but not everbody has someone to go with.

            Education is the root of Jen.

            The body is in the mind. (not some Cartesian little man behind the eyes)

            I didn't say abolish profit.

          • And what's the mind in?

          • The mind is before concept. Concept arises out of the bodily experience.

          • I'm reminded of an old, philosophical puzzle:

            What came first, the chicken ball or the egg roll?

          • Do you not believe in evolution? Eggs where around well before chickens.

          • The evolution of what? Bodies in minds?

          • Yes, if you use my concept of mind.
            No, if you use yours.

          • And is the mind something physical, or is it just in the mind, too?

          • Look at your finger
            Point it at the moon
            Now look at your finger
            Now look at the moon
            Ride a donkey into town
            Eat a grasshopper
            Be a clown

            Ok, sorry, needed a mind dump… What do you want the mind to be?

          • Mindful.

          • So you have writen, so let it be done.

          • Do I have a plan for reforming humanity? Yes, get them out of public education.

            That's a good start.

          • The problem is how to convince them to speak their own minds for their constituents. Before parties in the UK they had pocket bouooughs. I like the idea – fine them for collusion and combination if line up with anybody except on the current vote (sorta). But get rid of prties. I am sick and tired of having the member I vote for dance to the elader's tune.

          • Maybe have the power of recall if he/she doesn't vote the way the constituence votes.

    • Why does fairness need to be a value in the system? Most systems of government have gotten away from all but meaningless gesture to fairness. No. If you want your values to be the ones on the levers of the state, then you must campaign relentlessly and without regard to fairness. Besides fairness most offen means "that which is to my benefit."

      Pick your poison, but poison you will have…

      • fairness most offen means "that which is to my benefit."

        I agree. Fairness is another word for I want something for free. Little children call for fairness when they did not get the lollipop.

        Democracy is about ideas and about earning votes. It's about convincing people you have the ability to represent them. It's not about fairness. It's about desire and commitment. It's about sharing your ideas.

        If you want your ideas to be heard, then do something about it.

        Conservatives did not call for fairness when they had to endure 13 years of Liberal rule supported by the same 40% of the population. They did something about it – they created think-tanks and they formed a new party. They donated their hard-earned money to their local constituents. In 2006 they were rewarded. It was not fairness, it was commitment and desire.

        • Conservatives did not call for fairness when they had to endure 13 years of Liberal rule supported by the same 40% of the population.

          Yes they did. They whined about the situation constantly. Remember "The West Wants In"? That was just another way of crying, "Waaa! Waaa! This isn't fair!".

          • "The West Wants In" meant exactly what it said. And how did they achieve that? Not by whining, but by forming a new party, because they knew the existing parties would never represent them fairly, they were too beholden to loyalties in central Canada.

          • I'm not sure that "The West" acheived anything; because a significant MAJORITY of Canadians live in "Central" Canada, policy is still generally developed in the perceived interests of the majority because, well, that's how democracy works. So "the West" has gone from being a significant "rump" of a party in opposition to being a less significant rump of the party in power, albeit a party more in tune with "the West's" interests. "The West" STILL isn't "in", simply because it doesn't have the population base to justify policy development based mainly on its perceived interests. And yet, many of those who purport to represent "The West" also seem to oppose immigration, despite the fact that the majority of opportunities available to immigrants seem to be in "The West", (thereby potentially increasing its population base), which seems to be counter-intuitive.

            Oh, and "The West" is actually a lot more heterogenous and diverse than the Reform, Alliance, and CPC parties would have you believe.

          • Actually, the 'west wants in' simply meant they wanted influence that matched their population, which they never had. While central Canada has probably 60% of the population, in the 80s prior to Reform they had probably 90% of influence. Essentially all policy of the PC and Liberal parties was dictated by individuals in central Canada, and they had no representation from the west, apart from MPs elected in the west that had no influence in cabinet. Corporate and union leaders in central Canada had direct influence on the parties, while corporate interests from the west had none.

            This resulted in policies that harmed the West in favour of the rest of the country, such as the NEP. The defining moment was the aerospace contract handed to Canadair rather than Bristol Aerospace despite the fact that all observers agreed that Bristol had the superior record of quality and the less expensive bid.

            You would never see the same thing happen today, because the west now has influence on the policies of the government, due to individuals at high levels from the west such as Harper, Prentice and Strahl.

            Meanwhile, nothing has changed in the Liberal party, which is run entirely by groups and individuals from Toronto and Montreal.

          • "While central Canada has probably 60% of the population, in the 80s prior to Reform they had probably 90% of influence"

            How does one determine a percentage of "influence"? In any case, because of our FPTP electoral system, a majority of 60 percent is effectively the same as a majority of 90 percent, isn't it?

            I'll grant that "The West" (or at least, those parts of "The West" represented by the CPC) may have more "influence"…however one actually applies a metric to that…than previously, but "The West" has still also had to swallow watered-down and less "ideologically pure" policy development designed to appeal to the majority of Canadians that live in Central Canada.

          • Yes, there is of course no way to determine a percentage of influence, but you know what I mean. Yes, it's true, FPTP might have something to do with it, since it's quite possible to win an election with no votes outside Quebec or Ontario. In fact, that's why Canadair won that contract I mentioned, it was to keep the votes already bought and paid for. When Ontario and the West get 30 more seats, and there are even more seats to be found in the west than in Quebec, the dynamic will be different.

            Of course, they've swallowed watered-down policy in the west. But they're fine with that. All they wanted was a seat at the table, a chance to win an argument once in a while, and a chance to block legislation that was detrimental to the west. For instance, they're not saddled with NEP the sequel (aka the green shift), which was another attempt to transfer wealth from energy producers to the recipients of government pork and welfare, or in other words to transfer money from Alberta and Newfoundland to Quebec. That never happened this time around. That's a change.

      • Justice as Fairness. John Rawls.

  14. Yea, and we don't need yearly disbursements from the federal government.

  15. Interesting. I read that quote of Kent's a bit differently than you did, Andrew.

    "This Danegeld, extracted by the Liberal heavyweights of the recent past, underlines what's wrong with the tax financing of political warfare. It pays for much of the stealthy spin doctoring, the attack ads, the other trivia of campaigning. Few uses of public money are more indefensible."

    I thought Mr. Kent was complaining about what the parties have chosen to spend their funds on … the "attack ads", "political warfare", "other trivia of campaigning"; along with who gets it (party HQ vs. the constituency associations). Just a guess, but it sounded like he might be happier if it were spent on policy development at the grassroots.

    • I too was surprised to discover the discrepancy between what Mr. Kent wrote and how it was represented by Mr. Potter.

      All the same, Mr. Potter, I appreciate you bringing the piece to my attention.

    • He did not say "Few uses of party money are more indefensible."

      He said "Few uses of public money are more indefensible.". He also said "what's wrong with the tax financing of political warfare".

  16. Ah – there’s the rub – Pundits Guide!

    If there is anything to be said in favour of the NDP (and even to a degree the CPC – but that was before the PMO started calling the shots) it is that the grassroots have some nput to policy development.

    The Liberal model asks the grassroots for money – but tells them to take a hike when it comes to policy development

    • I don't really know where this idea got started. Grassroots are very much involved in policy development.

      Now, if you want to talk policy IMPLEMENTATION, feel free.

  17. The party in government always has a massive fundraising advantage. People want to be close to power, so they donate money to attend functions where they can gladhand government officials.

    Without public financing, you would ensure ridiculous fundraising advantages for the incumbent.

    I am of the mind that frequent changes in government are good for democracy. Any government that lasts longer than 5 years becomes tired, lazy and corrupt.

    • I don't think that is a natural law. The money flows to he/she whom the people think they want to get in. Never mind other donors – corporate eg… As long as only individuals donate. Why should I donate twice? Once to my choice and through my taxes to all the rest.

  18. Tom Kent, in the column, mentions:

    That fundamental fault is compounded by other weaknesses. Most conspicuously, the funding as now distributed is more helpful to a regional party than to a national one. The Bloc Québécois's share of nationwide taxation is more useful to it because its campaign spending is concentrated in one province.

    If my number crunching is correct, the BQ gets the same per riding allowance that the CPC receives.

    The BQ gets roughly $2.5 million per year, ostensibly to pander to 75 ridings ($33K / riding).
    The CPC gets roughly $10.0 million per year, ostensibly to pander to 308 ridings ($33K / riding).

    Just to compare, the LPC, NDP and Green numbers are $23K, $16K and $6K respectively.

    So I'm not sure what Kent is complaining about wrt regional parties.

    • Defineatly should be zero.

      • Do you find the per vote subsidy to be worse than the tax credit for direct donations or somewhat more tolerable?

  19. The fact of the matter is this. the party in power gets the most donations because they can give favours At this time the conservatives are getting a lot of donations and they do not see the need for government help for political Butif the liberals were in power their view point would change.Neither party supports democracy only what is good for themselves.Grant

  20. Both Kent and Geddes make reference to changes to the political fund-raising regime brought in by Chretien and Martin "to screw each other". I'm curious – did Paul Martin invent time travel before or after bringing in such changes?