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Getting politics off the dole


 

We’ll see about the deficit later, but for now this is fantastic news:

The Conservatives are poised to eliminate the public subsidies that Canada’s five major political parties receive, a move that would save $30 million a year but could cripple the opposition.Sources told CBC News and other media outlets Wednesday that the subsidy cut is one of the key elements of the fiscal update that Finance Minister Jim Flaherty will present Thursday in Ottawa.

Parties currently receive $1.95 for every vote they receive in a federal election, provided they win at least two per cent of the nationwide popular vote. The annual subsidy is used to pay for staff and expenses.

On the surface, it would appear Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservatives have the most to lose if subsidies were cut because they garnered the most votes in the October election. The Conservatives earned $10 million in subsidies, compared to $7.7 million for the Liberals, $4.9 million for the NDP, $2.6 million for the Bloc Québécois and $1.8 million for the Greens.

But because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party’s total revenues.

By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals’ funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc’s, 57 per cent of the NDP’s and 65 per cent of the Greens’.

I don’t care what their motivations are: it’s the right thing to do. The public subsidy came in with the Chretien campaign finance reforms in 2003. But it was entirely contrary in spirit. The point of the restrictions on corporate and union donations was that elections should be a matter between the candidates and the voters. Corporations and unions don’t get extra votes in the ballot box, and shouldn’t get extra voice in the fund-raising contest. Nor should corporate and union leaders be able to donate other people’s money on their behalf. Whether to contribute to a political party, and how much, and to whom, should be a private, personal matter — voluntary, individual decisions.

The $1.95 “allowance” violated every one of those principles. By abolishing it, the Tories are finishing the job Chretien started, of creating a truly citizen-based campaign finance system. Or not quite: even without this particular subsidy, the parties would still benefit from the hefty tax credit on political donations (the formal beneficiary is the donor, but in practice the incidence is shared), while candidates would still have their expenses partially reimbursed. But it’s certainly a big step in the right direction.

Ignore the howls of the opposition. It is entirely within their power to do as the Tories have done, and develop a large base of individual contributors. Absolutely nothing is stopping them. Weren’t we all just worshipping at Obama’s shrine? Isn’t that what he did?

Ignore, too, the complaint that somehow this cripples the political process. Much of the subsidy we have been paying these people goes to the very things that are currently poisoning the political process: over-priced strategists and attack ads, push polls and focus groups. Who needs it?

Still not convinced? Two words: Bloc Québécois. Look at the numbers above. We, the taxpayers of Canada, are underwriting 86% of the expenses of a party whose sole raison d’etre is the destruction of the country. Let them work their treason on their own dime.

UPDATE: I am fascinated by the abusive tone of so many of the comments, many of them fuelled by the belief that I am consciously or unconsciously consigning Canadian elections to, in the words of one commenter, a “limited economic demographic.” Or as another put it, “the golden rule, of he who has the gold should make the rules. That’s what you advocate for, yes?”

Um, no, actually. I’ve been an advocate for contribution limits (though I favour global annual limits, all political contributions combined, rather than specifying limits on each contribution) for years, since the days when corporations were handing over $100,000 cheques to the Liberal party and getting hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies in return. That’s not the system we have now. Though there remain loopholes that should be closed, the basic rule is a $1000  (indexed to inflation) ceiling on all individual donations. I know some readers think the limit should be “tens” of dollars, but a thousand-dollar limit does not strike me as handing control to “a limited economic demographic.”

There may be relatively few people who can afford to give $1000, but that’s the point — they’re a few. In the days when there were no limits on contributions, a few people each giving $100,000 or more could add up to a whole pile of money, as a proportion of total party funds. But now a few only adds up to a little. 

More to the point, lots and lots of people giving much less than $1000 adds up to a great deal. The most famous current example: Barack Obama, whose campaign raised a record-shattering $640-million. Of that, according to OpenSecrets.org (the website maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics), fully 91 per cent, or $579-million, came from individual donors. How many donors? Try 3.1 million of them. So the average donation was less than $200 (the Obama campaign maintains the average is $86, but I haven’t seen their math). Are Obama’s supporters a “limited economic demographic”? All 3.1 million of them?

NICE TRY: One commenter takes me to task for singling out the Bloc’s subsidy for scorn. “Aren’t you being a little dishonest here?” he/she asks. “Separatists are actually funded with… separatists’ money simply because anyone who vote is actually choosing the political party that will receive his $1.95 per vote.” 

Um, no. The money comes from general revenues. There isn’t some income tax check-off whereby the individual taxpayer gets to decide who gets his money (though that would be an improvement on the current setup). It all comes from the taxpaying public as a whole.

It’s true that the money is allocated by the decisions of Bloc voters, but that’s a different thing entirely. That the Bloc is helping itself to public funds via Bloc supporters does not alter the fact that a separatist party depends for almost the whole of its funding on the taxpayers of Canada.


 

Getting politics off the dole

  1. Here here!

    The Greens I’ve been talking to are up-in-arms about this for reasons I don’t entirely understand. I mean,
    I know the Tories are doing this for terrible reasons. And automatically opposing anything this crowd does is generally a good idea.

    BUT.. The Greens have to ask themselves – what is the money being spent on? It’s being spent on political ‘arms race’ items like millions of disposable signs on public property and mindless TV ads. I don’t know why any Green anywhere should support public financing of such waste.

  2. Some of us don’t worship money, Mr. Coyne. All this so-called citizen-based campaign funding does is finance the careers of political entrepreneurs….courtiers, pr flacks, advertising agencies (hello, Rogers!) and Chinese manufacturers of political swag and consumer waste which gives the citizen endless campaigning and very little governance.

  3. How is this getting political parties off the dole, Mr. Coyne? I didn’t see any mention of eliminating the tax credits for political donations or for eliminating reimbursements for election spending. Isn’t this simply shifting the tax money around? Parties will work to raise more money (and the US shows there is much more potential there) and the government will pay out more in tax credits. What is so great about that?

    If you really want them off the “dole”, as you say, why not be consistent and advocate for the end of tax credits and reimbursements to political parties?

  4. This:

    The point of the restrictions on corporate and union donations was that elections should be a matter between the candidates and the voters.

    Implies this:

    Corporations and unions don’t get extra votes in the ballot box, and shouldn’t get extra voice in the fund-raising contest. Nor should corporate and union leaders be able to donate other people’s money on their behalf.

    But not this:
    Whether to contribute to a political party, and how much, and to whom, should be a private, personal matter — voluntary, individual decisions.

    That’s entirely your Libertarian, short-sighted (that’s probably redundant) position. It can be argued, fairly successfully, that the voluntary, individual decision is made at the ballot box, and then, since politics are a matter for the public as a whole, the public as a whole supports them. It can also be argued that allowing private money to determine politics is damaging regardless of the amounts.

    And while it may be in the other parties power to do such, expecting them to do such instantly is not good politics, nor legislation. It is a whipsaw decision — and indicates anything but the stability and measured action that we actually need to be the stewards of our economy at this point.

  5. “If you really want them off the “dole”, as you say, why not be consistent and advocate for the end of tax credits and reimbursements to political parties?”

    Did you miss the section about “it’s certainly a big step in the right direction”?

  6. Andrew – you don’t specify whether you support limits on individual donations. A low limit (with no donations permitted for unions or corporations) probably supports a healthy democracy. A high limit (more than, say, a few tens of dollars) allows the wealthy to buy more political influence than the poor.

    The US system is a horror show of distortions due to a broken, self-sustaining finance system. This has real implications in policy for most Americans.

    If we’re going to define a new system for Canada it needs to be simple, principled and NOT tie influence to money. Do you trust the CPoC to introduce such a system?

    And I will NOT ignore the howls of opposition. This isn’t a principled policy decision on the part of the PMO, it’s an opportunistic tactic designed to further weaken the opposition parties. It’s rank gerrymandering, a power grab. If Chretien had pulled something like this when the Tories were broke and down to 2 seats, it would have been just as wrong.

    It may be “entirely within their power”, just like any bad policy. Doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t mean Canadians have to support it. The BQ argument? Total red herring. Lame, lame lame, Andrew.

  7. And just to add…with the advent of the Internet, the entrepreneurs literally have dollars signs in their eyes when they see that skimming a few bucks here and there from millions of people is much easier and cheaper than doing actual fundraising….whether it be targeting citizens with compelling ideas and interesting events or organising lavish, complex galas for the elite.

    Put up web site with a lot of colours and animated graphics, get the user to supply most of the content (send us your video clips!), add a donate button and watch the money role in.

    The whole thing can be automated and maintained on a PC in Bangalore.

    Pretty sweet.

  8. Andrew Coyne wrote:”Still not convinced? Two words: Bloc Québécois. Look at the numbers above. We, the taxpayers of Canada, are underwriting 86% of the expenses of a party whose sole raison d’etre is the destruction of the country. Let them work their treason on their own dime.”

    Aren’t you being a little dishonest here? Separatists are actually funded with… separatists’ money simply because anyone who vote is actually choosing the political party that will receive his $1.95 per vote. So it’s idiotic to claim that a CPC/LPC/NDP/BQ voter (and taxpayer) actually finances anyone but the party of his choice.

  9. Mike, yes I missed that. Thanks.

    I think it would be bad for democracy and would disenfranchise the poor. I think public support of political parties is more beneficial than many things tax credits and exemptions support. If Mr. Coyne takes up the challenge of getting religion off the dole, count me in.

  10. Up until now I had respect for you. That you can’t figure out this is handing control to a limited economic demographic puts and end to that.

  11. Here! Here! and one more to the list. Andrew C you got my vote. This enitre concept is ridiculous and why on earth our tax money (a tax percentage rebate is bordeline acceptable … but …) taxpayers money going to a political party is entirely, as they say in latin : Stultus est sicut stultus facit : translated = stupid is as stupid does! A poltical party that relies on such monies is actually destroying itself as it removes the integrity of the system. Well done to Mr. Harper and I hope against hope that this effort does provide a bill and that it passes as it is very long overdue.

  12. Does anyone have any actual data on the income levels of people who donate to political parties?

  13. A question for all of the ‘end of democracy’ folks:

    If the Conservatives proposed getting rid of the Political Donations Tax Credit and keeping the $1.95 subsidy, would you still have a problem with it?

  14. Geiseric: “That you can’t figure out this is handing control to a limited economic demographic puts and end to that.”

    I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. Coyne isn’t stupid but he apparently thinks we are.

  15. “I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. Coyne isn’t stupid but he apparently thinks we are.”

    I wasn’t going to say anything else, but I hear you.

  16. This isn’t a serious proposal, it is political stunt. I suspect it will play out badly for the conservatives. The pointless partisan furour this proposal deliberately engenders will distract from Harper’s otherwise sensible approach to the economy and leave most Canadians mumbling “a pox on all their houses.”

    Too bad. Divisive partisanship is the last thing we need right now.

    – JV

  17. “The point of the restrictions on corporate and union donations was that elections should be a matter between the candidates and the voters. Corporations and unions don’t get extra votes in the ballot box, and shouldn’t get extra voice in the fund-raising contest. Nor should corporate and union leaders be able to donate other people’s money on their behalf. Whether to contribute to a political party, and how much, and to whom, should be a private, personal matter — voluntary, individual decisions….[key quote]The $1.95 “allowance” violated every one of those principles.”

    Respectfully, what the hell?

    Setting aside the particular backdrop of today’s discussion, your assertion here is fundamentally, stunningly wrong.

    The whole point of teh 2003 reform was to remove opportunites for political parties and wealthy individuals or organizations to trade favours for financial considerations, while respecting the role that political parties have as aggregators of public opinion in Canada’s parliamentary democracy.

    If there was a flaw in that reform it is certainly not the buck-a-vote (or $1.75) subsidy. It’s that fundraising wasn’t restricted enough.

    You want a reform plan that will save tax payer money, reduce the risk of corruption and revitalize public engagement in our democractic institutions?

    1. Eliminate the tax-preferential treatment of political parties, riding associations, candidates, etc.

    2. Cap individual donations at $250/year, indexed to inflation.

    3. Replace the buck-a-vote with a $30 million pot, indexed to inflation, and divide proportionally among parties according to percentage of popular votes by province. Limit access to parties with at 5% of the national popular vote. The biggest single problem with the buck-a-vote is that costs can vary wildly depending on voter turnout.

    4. Eliminate the segregation between national and local spending limits. Reduce campaign spending limits by 20%.

    5. Enact legislation to require major media networks to: (1) air 4 debates (2 english, 2 french) in prime time on TV, news radio and available online; and (2) make minimum amounts of time/space available to each party for advertising at a nominal rate (this would be tax-deductible for the companies). Failure to comply with all of the above results in loss of license and/or fines.

    6. Enact legislation to make voting in federal elections mandatory, and to require employers to provide 8 consecutive hours (as opposed to 4) for voting.

  18. First that Colombian free trade deal, now this. I’m opening a bottle of champagne to celebrate the Conservatives doing something intelligent and foresighted for the first time since NAFTA.

    I mean, it’s cheap champagne. But still.

  19. Incidentally, the reason that I like the subsidy is a little different from the ones that I have brought up so far:

    I’ve read enough of Coyne to be convinced that my vote, in the riding where I live, is completely worthless. So, I like the idea of the government giving me a toonie and saying, “Here, who’s jar do you want to put this in?” It gives me a direct, rational reason to get out of bed on polling day.

  20. Just so. Time to axe the partisan welfare checks preventing the separatists from vanishing into the history books and the Libs from returning to their populist roots.

  21. Well done Mr. Coyne. An honest, intelligent and non-partisan appraisal.

  22. D. Andy Jette:

    I liked your proposal until you got to #3:

    “3. Replace the buck-a-vote with a $30 million pot, indexed to inflation,”

    Why, exactly, do political parties need this money? What are they going to do with it other than buy a ton of disposable lawn signs to pollute public property and air mindless TV ads. None of this spending has any social value whatsoever.

    That’s what frustrates me about this entire debate.. that we’re all saying “but parties need that money!” without investigating what they actually do with it! Why should the Canadian government spend $30 million on something with such dubious social value?

    I think we could stop at your first two ideas – 1. Eliminate the tax-preferential treatment of political parties, riding associations, candidates, etc. and 2. Cap individual donations at $250/year, indexed to inflation and leave it at that.

  23. I would like to echo Mr. Jette’s sentiments about the reason behind the reforms not being abstract individualism but rather about curbing influence of corporations and unions.

    As far as level of argument goes, this post is right up there wih “Canada needs an abortion debate
    !”

  24. BS – good grief what does it cost each of us. An election every couple of years – perhaps 50 – 75 cents each when divided by year/election.

    Hey, how about that makeup lady eh?

    I think Mr. Coyne likes to be contraversial just for attention.

    This isn’t about good sense, it’s political opportunism and it stinks.

    Even Chretien gave grace periods for the other parties when he made changes.

    I’m disgusted.

  25. All of this niggling over technicalities misses the point: Mr. Coyne, likely unwittingly (although I have my doubts…I’ve always thought he was pretty bright), has bought into the notion that there is no difference when people behave as consumers and when they behave as citizens. You can just extrapolate and imagine a point in the near future when we’re all closely following the funding levels of particular parties and rushing to donate to them, because we’ve all been convinced that that alone guarantees (and should guarantee) political/electoral/democratic success. Worse…we’ll all become convinced that that alone constitutes engaged citizenship. No need to think about issues, or to follow the activities in Parliament, or read up on investigations of the government, or to even storm Parliament every once in a while with torches and pitchforks…nothing. Click on a donate button and you’ve acted as a responsible citizen. In this manner, ongoing citizen engagement is reduced to yet another consumer choice and completes the corporatisation of democracy itself.

    If Mr. Coyne ever has reason to reflect on this, he might actually realise how deeply immoral this is. But I somehow doubt that’ll ever happen.

  26. The reason you leave #3 in is the same reason you pay to keep the lights on in the House of Commons. If parties are recognized as fundamental to parliamentary democracy (which is debatable, but a debate for another day), then they need to be able to function. And their financial capacity to function needs to reflect something other than their prowess in passing the hat in the right places.

  27. ‘”And their financial capacity to function needs to reflect something other than their prowess in passing the hat in the right places.”

    Millions of non-profits seem to do fine with that method. If we’re going to use that logic, can I send my $2/yr to Animal Alert or an organization that will actually spend the money in a way that contributes to society?

  28. I’d be all for this move if it were phased in over 2 or 3 years. Pulling the plug on April 1 as is being suggested is just cutting too much too soon, and being done only because the CPC is the only party geared to survive such a dramatic change in rules so quickly.

  29. Interesting point.

    The logical end-point of the idea that “it should be private money that supports parties” is that the election should be done auction style. The party that can put the most into the public purse wins.

    And just think Mr. Coyne, then we wouldn’t have to worry about these bothersome elections at all. We could get right down to the golden rule of he who has the gold should make the rules about it. That is what you advocate for, yes?

  30. These are serious times. We have the right to expect to be governed by serious people. Instead we get this petty political crap. My expectations of Mr. Coyne are never all that high. But I had hoped that Our Leader’s recent exposure to some serious people from around the world might have given him at least a minimal insight into what is coming. I guess – once again – the triumph of hope over experience.

  31. 1) The BQ argument is emotive. It is essentially, if the reasoning above hasn;t convivnced you, then just know you are supporting the BQ. While I am not a fan of theirs, that argument is not the basis of a valuable analysis of this situation.

    2) “The $1.95 “allowance” violated every one of those principles.”

    The primary value is, as you point out, “that elections should be a matter between the candidates and the voters” …. under the $1.95 system, the subsidy was directed explicitly by the voters choice of whether they decided to vote and who they voted for. Pls, pray-tell how that breaks principle.

    3) “Ignore, too, the complaint that somehow this cripples the political process.” So you think that the democratic process is served by having parties that have broad support, that are unable to communicate with voters on a relatively, equitable playing field?

    4) “It is the right thing to do.” Pls. Changing the funding system is fine. And I don;t even disagree that ending the subsidy is a bad idea. But changing it on the spot by decision of one party that is already holding a massive advantage, with no consultation, no advanced warning and phased implementation s bunk. And it hurts our democracy. Your faining to care about that in this post offensive.

  32. For the most part I agree with Coyne, except for this bit:

    “Nor should corporate and union leaders be able to donate other people’s money on their behalf.”

    That’s a nice rhetorical flourish, but completely counter to the philosphy Coyne usually attempts to advance. To wit –

    Once someone gives money to their union or corporation for whatever reason, it is no longer that person’s money – it belongs to the union/corporation and they can do what they like with it. If you don’t want your money to make its way to a political party, don’t give it to people who will send it there. That seems like private property 101, which Coyne is generally pretty big on upholding.

  33. On a side note:

    I love the “These are serious times. We have the right to expect to be governed by serious people” comment. See Sisyphus in this thread and countless others in countless other places.

    What times exactly are not “serious”? When exactly would we NOT want to be governed by serious people?

    I’m really looking forward to that utopian day when we are so carefree that we can elect Rick Mercer and Jon Stewart to lead the free world with their only responsibilities being to goof off and make us laugh.

  34. “Whether to contribute to a political party, and how much, and to whom, should be a private, personal matter — voluntary, individual decisions.

    “The $1.95 ‘allowance’ violated every one of those principles. ”

    WHAT?

    Seriously, dude, breathe. it sounds like you need to get some oxygen to that brain.

    I’m going to go out on a limb, here, and claim that casting a vote is basically contributing to a political party. You’re contributing to their win potential in your riding, and if they DO win your riding you’re contributing to their win potential nationally. If we had proportional representation, you’d be contributing to their national win potential regardless of what happened in your own riding. But I digress.

    Back to it: I’m pretty sure a buck ninety-five every year for four years (God freakin’ willing) isn’t something Canadians would rail against. In fact, this represents a reasonably fair redistribution of Canadians’ money among the major political players in this country.

    Hey, speaking of reasonably fair redistribution of money, I guess it’s kind of like the GST. The slashing of which was another brilliant idea brought to you by the good people of the current government.

    One more rant and I’m done. Bear with me.

    “It is entirely within [the opposition’s] power to do as the Tories have done, and develop a large base of individual contributors.”

    See, um, no. That’s not true. People of moderate means and impoverished people don’t generally donate money to political parties. They tend to be people who don’t head up corporations, people who don’t make scads of disposable income. The same people, in fact, who would probably be likely to vote Liberal, NDP or Green. A lot of younger folks vote NDP and Green–many of these people are held in the choke-hold of school debt and underemployment. When paying for party membership and/or donating to the party is held up against paying for food, how do you think the party’s going to fare in terms of donations?

    Cripes, even if this weren’t the case, and they were all Conservative voters, isn’t it more fair to have funding go to parties based on their popularity versus based on how well they can pimp themselves to people with increased financial means? I would say that the funding system put in place by the Liberals now being hacked away by the Conservatives would be the MOST democratic form of party funding we’ve seen yet.

  35. I would eliminate ALL restrictions on political donations as long as the donor and the are made public immediately. Coupled with other legislation (like lobbyist registration etc.), I don’t see what’s wrong with this. Lots of rich people are Liberals (and even NDPers!) and will throw money behind parties that support the less fortunate. Lots of middle class people will donate a little bit for the party with the right oranization and vision (see: Obama, Barack) that can add up to a significant amount of funding.

  36. Maybe parliament should also ban 10%ers from all political parties. I wonder how the cons would feel about that. Perhaps parliamentarians should also be held to account (suspended for a period of time) for spewing outright lies in the HoC.

  37. “Up until now I had respect for you. That you can’t figure out this is handing control to a limited economic demographic puts and end to that.”

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  38. “The pointless partisan furour this proposal deliberately engenders will distract from Harper’s otherwise sensible approach to the economy and leave most Canadians mumbling “a pox on all their houses.” ”

    Actually, Just Visiting, I think the whole point here is to obscure the fact that today’s economic statement will not provide a single idea on how this government plans to stir this country through this economic storm.

    Harper doesn’t know what to do. He doesn’t know how to run a country in a time of crisis. The “decisive” one is at a total loss.

    That’s what this confidence motion is about. He didn’t have a plan during the election and he still doesn’t have one now.

  39. Obama didn’t take public financing.

    The Liberals should view this as a great opportunity to reform and rebuild their party.

  40. CES Franks and David E Smith both have wonderful books about the House fo Commons and include compelling explanations of how parties have evolved and what their role is in our particular system.

    There’s the rope, swim for it.

  41. “See, um, no. That’s not true. People of moderate means and impoverished people don’t generally donate money to political parties. They tend to be people who don’t head up corporations, people who don’t make scads of disposable income. The same people, in fact, who would probably be likely to vote Liberal, NDP or Green. A lot of younger folks vote NDP and Green–many of these people are held in the choke-hold of school debt and underemployment. When paying for party membership and/or donating to the party is held up against paying for food, how do you think the party’s going to fare in terms of donations? ”

    Except for the simple fact that each of the other parties donor’s provide a larger amount than the CPC’s. So, apparently the NDP, Libs, and Greens have a wealthier donor pool as their donors provide larger cheques. But please, never let the facts stand in the way of a good arguement.

    My question to all those who think Democracy will end tomorrow if this is implemented…Do you are do you nto support Obama?

    He never used one penny of public financing to win the US election. By your logic then, he is subverting Democracy ….after all, he used private money not one cent of public financing. Or is it that it is different if it is Obama because you like his message better and the vitrol is due to the fact that you are partisan.

    Obama figured out how to reach out to people and in return they chose to donate what they could to fund his campaign. THAT is how a healthy democracy works.

  42. I am thrilled to know that I will not be FORCED to support the Bloc head, the moustache, Iggy and or Rae, with my tax dollars. Last time I checked the Bloc didn’t give a fig for TROC. Good for the Conservatives.

  43. Sorry Coyne but your logic- if there is any – is flawed. As a partisan if the subsidy must go it’s a bit much to ban so called corporate donations which include every business no matter how small. If a convienence store operator wants to donate $50 or $1000 he can’t make it through his business under current rules and that’;s dumb

    Its a bit much to think that any Corporation could gain influence with $1000 limit.

    Changing the rules at this point after their win is bullshit crass partisan politics which isn’t helping the economy or the country.

    Not to mention the amount of money the Conservatives spent on advertising for the two years before the election was probably more than any party spent during the election-

  44. I wonder if Michael Ignatieff still wants to be leader of the Liberal party now that it will be rendered peniless, or something close to it, compared to the Conservatives?. Cutting this subsidy is the best news I’ve heard since the world’s economies tanked. Bad news is, my gas bill has doubled. Ouch.

  45. “[Elections] should be a matter between the candidates and the voters.”

    I couldn’t agree more, but I happen to look at politics with a practical bent, and thus can see that parties need some help to get the candidate to the voter, and vice-versa. If you’re a smaller party – like the Greens – then this program allows you to take the support received in the last election from the voters, and use that to get to more voters – to connect the two parts of the system that Andrew said politics should be about. As opposed to restricting interactions between them, public financing increases it, and gives the minority a much greater ability to be heard.

    More important than this, however, is the slight-of-hand being used by the Tories against Canadians with this move. People across the spectrum will get (wrongly) excited about not funding the Bloc, and (so the plan goes) they’ll not notice that Harper isn’t doing anything for regular hard-working Canadians. They’ll not notice that he’s the first PM to have a loss of Canadian productivity under his term. They’ll not notice that the economic plan we were promised is nowhere to be seen. And they’ll not notice that we’ve lost 200K manufacturing jobs, with many more to come when the Big Three crash.

  46. Your vote dictates who gets your twoonie, just as my vote dictates who gets mine. Forgive my ignorance, but that would appear to be the ***precise*** opposite to being “forced” to support a party you don’t support.

    For the record, in my opinion Obama should have stayed within the limits and taken the public cash. But then again in my opinion third-party funnels like the Swiftboaters and moveon.org constitute legalized money laundering, and should be shut down. I’m not American, so I don’t have a vote on any of that. And by the way, what Obama did was a legal option within the U.S. political finance framework.

    We’re debating what should be included in our own national political finance framework. The question I have is, why scrap the subsidy but keep tax deductibility on donations? Seems to me that scrapping the deductibility option saves taxpayer money (after all, it’s a spending program just like any other tax credit, right, Mr. Coyne?) and increases the relative attractiveness of charitable donations.

  47. I’m afraid that the arguments that indicate that the Conservatives are the rich guys in this mix just does not fly. Check out the Dippers. Seems to me that they’re not known to be rich guys but they support themselves quite well. The people that vote for them, support them. Same deal with the Conservatives, grass roots democracy at work.

    Self supporting does have a nice ring…..except to the hand outstretched left side of the spectrum.

  48. All parties have time to replace the loss of funding before the next election as we will not be going to the polls anywhere in the near future.
    If I want to make a personal contribution to a political party I can “make the effort” to do so all by myself.

  49. This is the right thing to do! We should not be forced to subsidize political parties!

    Having said that…what are the chances the government is voted down and we have an election in 6-8 weeks?? Seriously, Liberals either go bankrupt or vote down the government and we go into an election…the opposition needs to pick their poison.

  50. NK, you’re wrong, and you’re missing the point that allowing parties to accept money based on who has THE ABILITY to throw it at them unfairly puts lower-income persons at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to financially support a party of their choice (and to therefore have representation by someone that they feel will speak to their needs as equal citizens of this country). At least distributing money based on a vote count would be a fair apportioning of public funds to the parties that represent the people, rich or poor.

    “Except for the simple fact that each of the other parties donor’s provide a larger amount than the CPC’s. So, apparently the NDP, Libs, and Greens have a wealthier donor pool as their donors provide larger cheques. But please, never let the facts stand in the way of a good arguement.”

    Rather, it’s you who should get your facts straight. It’s right above the posting, guy: “But because the Conservatives have such a strong fundraising base, their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party’s total revenues. By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent of the Liberals’ funding, 86 per cent of the Bloc’s, 57 per cent of the NDP’s and 65 per cent of the Greens’.” The dollar figures immediately precede this, and if you do the math, the funding that other parties receive is comparatively paltry to the CPC’s.

    Democracy won’t end tomorrow. However to pretend that we now have democracy is a little naïve. Our system is quite removed from democracy, actually. Democracy won’t be achieved until people have equal rights and equal representation in government, and that’s certainly not being accomplished by abolishing a funding system that fairly benefits all parties.

    I don’t know how Obama is relevant to this discussion. We’re talking about Canada. To quote mom, “If Obama jumped off a bridge, would you?” Just pretend for a while that we’re a nation of independent, thinking people; and that the American way is not the right or just way.

    “Obama figured out how to reach out to people and in return they chose to donate what they could to fund his campaign. THAT is how a healthy democracy works.”

    Actually, that’s how a large evangelical church in a capitalist nation works. Or scientology. Not a how a healthy democracy works. A healthy democracy works by allowing people equal representation. Representation based on coin is not equal.

  51. I have to agree that this is a step in the right direction. A substantial decrease in the deductibility of political donations, or an all-out elimination, should be the next move. And as for the argument that only the higher income bracket will donate, we are looking to replace a subsidy of less than $2 per voter here – if a party can get even a $5 donation over a four year period from HALF of those who voted for them, they’re actually in a better financial position.

    This is a great way to achieve two ends: a reduction of public monies going to political parties; and an incentive for political parties to build support through the engagement of the voting public.

  52. Andrew, the Libs will have little choice but to vote against it. They may have little money now but they will be even more broke if they wait until later as they will have to make up money lost over their leadership convention.

    Seems to me that unless the Opposition parties can kill this amendment in committee, we will be going to the polls in January.

  53. I don’t like how money at all dictates the election campaign. I’d prefer to see some kind of system where campaigning is standardized in terms of information sessions, debates, handouts, ads, stumping and of course spending. How many times a party leader can fly across Canada, how many tv ads they can buy, how many lawn signs they can manufacture, how many rock stars they can party with, etc, is superfluous to the process. Canadians need to make informed decisions based on policies, promises, and their personal opinion of how their prospective leader or cabinet minister represents themselves and their constituents. Canadians shouldn’t have to rationalize their vote because of per vote subsidies, if someone can’t bother to pull themselves out of their bed to vote then that is their problem (or at least an issue that is completely different from subsidies).

    I don’t know what the solution is really. There needs to be a level playing field where parties get equal chance to spread their message, but at the same time I think that people that are motivated to advance the cause of their chosen party should be able to express this. I don’t think the per vote subsidy does either of these things.

  54. David – I’m right on board with you.

    As long as you mean there should be a $5 limit on individual political donations. Heck, make it $100 and I’m still with you.

    If, like most right-wingers, you feel that personal donations should be very high or unlimited, then you’re arguing for the bastardization of our democracy, selling it to the highest bidders.

  55. The rich tories/dippers/grits thign is beside the point. If you know anything about political organizing you know it’s not just about how much money you give personally, but how much you can coordinate getting others to donate. In the past, it wasn’t just about how much union X gave as an organization, but it’s ability to lean on its members to give as well.

    Whether the money comes in in $20 bills or $1000 cheques, the people with the ability to bring the money in (I believe the original term is “bagman”) have an unhealthy level of influence over the party. You solve this by reducing the role of the bagman.

  56. “This is a great way to achieve two ends: a reduction of public monies going to political parties; and an incentive for political parties to build support through the engagement of the voting public.”

    Nonsense David. Given that the measure calls for this change to be implemented next April, the Opposition parties and the Greens wouldn’t have enough time to build the support you speak of. The LPC and the Greens would likely be wiped at the very next election, leaving the field wide open for the Tory to take absolute control of Parliament.

    There is no noble intent behind this move. Harper sees the LPC on the ropes and he wants to finish them off.

  57. “If Mr. Coyne ever has reason to reflect on this, he might actually realise how deeply immoral this is. But I somehow doubt that’ll ever happen.”

    Can’t quote the whole steaming pile but it seems Mr. ti-guy thinks if we stop doling out the taxpayer’s money to political parties we’ll all just quit thinking. Now, I know TG doesn’t believe anyone can think at his level but this moronic con-bot just cannot for the life of him see how the two are in anyway connected. Only government cash can stimulate people to think? I always thought people paid attention when they spent their own money and not so much the missing money from their pay cheque, the “Government’s” money. Too bad, I always thought, but I have to think if parties have to sell themselves to the public, convince them to give up their hard-earned after-tax money, we’ll likely see more thought than less. but I’m just a con-bot, not a deep thinking multi-lingual intellectual like ti-guy.

  58. David: Public monies should be going to political parties. They are public entities. It is only by eliminating all private money from public parties that we stand to make them truly accountable to the public, which is who they’re supposed to be representing.

    Here’s the deal, whether I vote conservative or not, whether I vote liberal or not, the person who gets in is supposed to represent me. However, when this person’s election relies on them having the money to campaign, money which comes from pleasing a certain segment of the population being represented at the expense of another section, we have a recipe for unrepresentative politicians.

  59. Hey rat: That whooshing sound was Ti-Guy’s point flying over your head. This is not about who can/does think, it’s about who gets political influence.

    Public financing helps smooth out influence between citizens. Coyne’s suggestion hands influence disproportionately to the wealthy.

  60. For those bad-faith whiners who decry the death of democracy, just write the political party of your choice a cheque for 8 bucks every 4 year election cycle.

    Or do you not think your chosen candidate is worth 2 buck a year?

    Put your OWN damn money where your whiney, petulant, mollycoddled mouth is. You aren’t entitled to your entitlements.

    Is there any question at all that if the libs were the main beneficiary that this wouldn’t already have been done and that you lot would be defending it?

  61. TJ Cook

    “…hands influence disproportionately to the wealthy.”

    What utter garbage. Over-all, we’re talking about just under 2 bucks a year per person in funding. Are you honestly so mathematically illiterate that you think you have to be rich to afford a lousy latte a year? Please.

    If only 1% of the party supporters sent cheques for $200 a year you’d be covered. If you can’t do that, your entitlement-addled “make everyone else pay” deadbeat party isn’t worthy of survival. If your party’s own supporters won’t dig deep, let it go.

    Save us the idiocy.

  62. ‘Aren’t you being a little dishonest here? Separatists are actually funded with… separatists’ money simply because anyone who vote is actually choosing the political party that will receive his $1.95 per vote. So it’s idiotic to claim that a CPC/LPC/NDP/BQ voter (and taxpayer) actually finances anyone but the party of his choice.’

    This comment would be valid under the assumption that each and every Bloq voter was paying taxes. Any voter who is in the non-paying bracket is effectively subsidized by every taxpayer in Canada for their vote choice. This holds true for every vote for every party, if you have not paid any tax, your vote has created a $1.95 transfer from those who have.

  63. Ok, the Obama thing is a fallacy. He collected donations from corporations and their proxies through large individual donations. Do the CPC suggest that they will eliminate all funding restrictions from unions, corporations and individuals? Coyne, I thought you were suggesting that the money should be able to speak.

  64. baldygirl, I don’t see anything democratic about the per vote subsidy. It starts off well because vote = money, which is democratic I suppose. However, it of course leads to more money = more votes, which is the crux of the problem and is completely undemocratic in my view.

  65. Dear Mr. Coyne,
    You are either incredibly naive or on the payroll. This has nothing to do with getting the Politicians off the dole, if it did the CPoC would all agree to work for $1 a year and accept no donations from numbered companies (Ha!). This is misdirection, because the Party in power has not a clue what to do about the current situation. They’ve been in deficit at least since May, and the bill for the Afghan adventure is running up faster than they can keep track. You can see fear in S. Harper’s eyes when he talks about what they’re doing for the economy, because he knows the Chicago school has failed (Epic Fail). Now he’s generating a storm about something else in the hopes no one will notice how bereft of ideas his party is. I hope the opposition calls his bluff, passes this in first reading then emasculates it in Committee.

  66. It is my own money, warwickwackcaddyshackgiveadogabone. Just as your vote directs puts your money where your…food-chewing…teeth-brushing…words-saying mouth is.

  67. Doug Smith, I agree. I don’t think it’s totally democratic because I see that problem too. But I think eliminating it is a step backward, not forward.

    d. andy jette: Best insult ever. :D

  68. d. andy jette

    So then what are you whining about then? the inconvenience of having to mail the money directly instead of having the government do it for you?? Ya, you must be a lazy-arse liberal (or dipper.)

  69. three cheers for scanner’s comment. One would think that our national press gallery would be able to see through Harper’s move. I’m sorely disappointed in Coyne.

  70. Warwick, I’ll try yet again to explain this. Read carefully, it’s not complicated.

    The problem is not the loss of current $2/vote financing. The problem is increasing dependence on individual political contributions. I can afford political contributions on my budget, but that’s relatively small.

    The guy 6 blocks away in the big fancy house can make much, much bigger political contributions.

    Who do you think is going to find their politicians more responsive? Whose needs do you think are more likely reflected in campaign platforms? Why are our public servants more responsive to the rich guy? Because his money will help them get re-elected. Under this system, his citizenship is worth more than mine. That’s antidemocratic.

    Now do you understand? Maybe you ought not to be throwing around words like “idiocy”.

  71. Hmm, yes, clearly the DEMOCRATIC move is to gut the opposition’s ability to plan and finance itself, while at the same time invoking the singular aberration in American public politics in, what, the last 50 years or so? Obama was historic, yes, but that’s the very reason he’s a terrible model to go on. And he’s not advocating removing public spending, now, is he?

    Andrew, you answered your own question. If the limit is a thousand dollars, and only a few can donate a thousand dollars a year, then those few will have a greater voice, by definition. But the bigger problem is that those who will REALLY marshall a voice are those who can bundle together donations. If someone can wrangle together a million dollars, because they belong to the right organization, are they really deserving of a million times the influence of someone who can only donate a dollar?

    I don’t get this. Public financing is a good idea. Public financing works. It is profoundly and obviously “citizen-based” and ensures that million-dollar bundlers don’t get million-dollar voices. I know that Andrew loses his mind whenever the word “public” is raised—his reaction to Obama’s Keynesian stimulus package is going to be desperately amusing—but this isn’t even up for debate. it was the best move Chretien made, and it shows just how odious Harper is that he would try to pull this.

  72. “Um, no. The money comes from general revenues. ”

    Um, yes. Because the Bloc only gets 1.95 times the number of votes. Therefore, it’s entirely reasonable to argue that Bloc voters are subsidizing the party of their choice.

    Since voting is voluntary, it can also be argued that these voters are voluntary “checking-off” a contribution to the party of their choice.

    Cutting off the 50% expense subsidy, on the other hand, would be entirely justified.

  73. This is excellent news. Now people have to make a real choice. A carton of smokes or a case of beer, or a few bucks to jack layton. Real money, real choices. Now everyone can see if ideas really matter.

  74. TJ: here’s a better example.

    Let’s say you have two neighbourhoods. Both have roughly the same number of people in them. One, however, is a group of prosperous professionals and capital-holders in single-family dwellings. Another is a group of struggling lower-class workers. The former can all donate somewhere between $350 to $1000 a year. The latter can donate, maybe, $100 a year. But probably won’t, because their credit situation is nonexistent and they have to save in case of catastrophe. Oh, and they’re in danger of losing their jobs.

    Who has a bigger voice? The first neighbourhood, or the latter? Which is most likely to get responses to their needs? Yet—and this is the better question—which one probably needs the help more?

    You know the answer. The idiot conservatives know the answer. Andrew “I have a minor aneurysm when government pays for something” Coyne knows the answer. But he apparently doesn’t want you to.

    The current Canadian public financing system means that parties have a financial incentive to get VOTES. And VOTES are universal and egalitarian. You get one whether you’re rich or poor. That poor neighbourhood? Well, they know that they can “donate” at least $2 a year to the party they choose, in as much a “individual private” decision as giving is to anybody else.

    You vote, you give. It’s elegant as hell. Except, I guess, to captain “ARGH I HEARD SOMEONE SAY PUBLIC MY BRAIN IT HURTS!” up there.

  75. cambo – if you’re having to choose between a case of beer and a political donation, your ideas don’t matter.

    There’s some rich bastard out there contributing 1000x your contribution who can get the PM on the phone personally if he doesn’t like the PM’s “ideas”. He can get the PM on the phone because the PM will need the money to get reelected.

    This is not a move in favour of the little guy, this change favours the rich.

  76. TJ Cook

    The whole reason why the limit was lowered by Harper to 1100 from Chretien’s 5000 is because a lousy 1100 a year isn’t enough to buy a politician.

    Just what do you think 1100 is going to get you? What difference does that make in a 19 million election campaign cost?

    The politicians rely more on votes than the money. There are more poor and middle class than rich. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a welfare state. Get it? If a handful of rich guys give their 1100 each, do you think the politician is going to screw over the millions of common people?

    The elimination of corporate and union money altogether did a great deal to clean up politics. Having the politicians relying on the little guy for funding will do a lot more. Most of the conservatives donations are under $200. That isn’t the rich, that’s joe six-pack.

    Your “it’s all about the rich” doesn’t hold with the facts.

  77. What’s so bad about having the parties subsidized based on how many votes they get? Doesn’t that make it a “citizen-based campaign finance system”? How the citizens vote decides who gets the money. There’s no undue influence at all then since it’s in 2$ chunks and anonymous.

    Seems to fit the definition of your ideal system to me.

  78. TJ Cook

    “There’s some rich bastard out there contributing 1000x your contribution who can get the PM on the phone personally if he doesn’t like the PM’s “ideas”. ”

    Obviously you haven’t been paying attention. The “rich bastard” can’t give more than 1100. Corporations can’t give 2 cents – nor can unions.

    You need to step back a half-decade or so and catch up to the facts – they seem to have passed you by. The reality you seem to think exists ended.

  79. Citizen based contributions…..goodness what an anti democratic concept.

    There seems to be a misunderstanding here. Parties still get reimbursements for expenses during election time. No issue there.

    Have a point of view, one way to test it out and see if people believe in it is engage in the grassroots fundraising required to make it work. For crying out loud run a promotion with Starbucks to buy a Liberal Frappachino with half the money going to the Liberal Party….all you need to replace is $1.95 per year….in other words it shouldnt be that hard.

    If you cant raise money to a basic level then perhaps your party isnt ready to govern or doesnt deserve a chance to speak to be in the debates etc etc. It is one signal amongst many of a Party’s ability to organize a parade and get something done.

    I dont’t understand the vehemance here…..goodness the tories lowered the max contribution amoutn fromt he $5,000 the Liberals HAD it at.

    This isnt that hard, I dont believe they provide the subsidy to Quebec parties and their election finanicng laws are well admired, I could be wrong though.

    $1,000 is hardly corrupting but sure lower max contribution to $250 or $100 if you want. But then you need to watch what gets called a contribution, attending conventions etc…

    I am sure the Liberals will be fine. Remeber elections are effectively free, this is inbetween election money. The lack of ability on the LIberals part today is what makes it look lopsided, but that will change.

    This should be a small issue but clearly there is a nerve that has been struck…..funny to watch.

  80. If it such a good idea, why did Harper not campaign on this? Did he not realize the state of the public purse three months ago? Why now?

  81. Wicky, I’m happily unaffiliated. And I’m not lazy, I’m too cheap to buy a stamp. Which…hey, does that make me conservative?

    And again, for those who keep getting hung up on the rich individual donor thing, $5,000 doesn’t buy anymore influence than $1,100.

    On the other hand, the ability to (through whatever levers or skills you have at your disposal) rally your friends/community/church/baby-sitters club/whatever to collectively come up with $50,000, or $500,000, buys a hell of a lot more influence than an individual donation of $1,100.

  82. Can Bob & Iggy, or Gille, please explain WHY I should be forced to donate money to their cause when I do not agree with them?

    Did we not already stop big corporations and unions from giving political donations with other people’s money? Why is this any different.

    If I want to support a political party, then I will be happy to do it with my own money. Having the government take it out of my pocket and give it to them is not something I would support.

    In this new age of economic turmoil, everyone has to cut back, and the politicians should not be exempt.

  83. d. andy jette

    Fool, if other people are more organized than you or yours, what are you whining about? If you can’t run your party’s finances, why would we put you in charge of the nation’s?

    You don’t do you point any favours.

    Really, all you have is petty insults – and not very clever ones at that. And if conservatives were too cheap to buy a stamp they’d be smart enough to donate online – so no, you aren’t one.

  84. Warwick,

    Of course I understand that there are contribution limits in place. Frankly I’d given up on that aspect of the discussion since so many people here seem utterly ignorant of the basic dynamics of political contributions. That’s why I stripped it down to a cartoonish description. Also, a number of people above have argued against contribution limits altogether.

    Demosthenes makes the point better than I did: Even under a maximum of $1100, no one person gains undue influence. But populations begin to gain influence – by province, neighborhood, race, etc. according to their aggregate donations.

    The overall point is that public financing in proportion to share of vote is a fundamentally fair way to support political parties and avoids the kind of distortions that money introduces in politics.

    And seriously – are you arguing that there’s a social safety net because huge number of poor people make tiny donations?

  85. I dunno Jim. Can you explain why I should be forced to donate money to keep the roads paved in front of your house or keep gas flowing into your neighborhood?

    Oh wait, maybe it’s because none of us are individualist supermen and part of the responsibility of living in a society is that we sometimes support things we don’t individually support because it benefits all of us.

    Having politicians supported by the public at large instead of private donations benefits all of us, because it means politicians can concentrate on governing rather than fund-raising, and can try to present the best ideas for the country, without worrying that it will offend the donating base at the expense of the non-donating base.

    Stephen: 60% refunded. Were it 100% refunded you might have a point. It isn’t. You don’t. If you believe that only parties that can raise money should be able to campaign then why bother having elections? It sounds like you’d be perfectly happy with an auction system.

  86. TJ Cook

    Money has nothing to do with it under small donation limits.

    The reason that “…populations begin to gain influence – by province, neighborhood, race, etc. ” is that they each get a vote. Your influence is proportional to the number of votes you deliver. You can’t pool donations – they’re still individual. But your “community leader” can promise to deliver votes.

    Interest group politics is there regardless. It’s not a money issue.

  87. “And seriously – are you arguing that there’s a social safety net because huge number of poor people make tiny donations?”

    Sigh.

    Obviously not. But in a system which the rich were able to buy politicians up until THIS decade, we still have the welfare state. Under your point, it wouldnt exist as the poor wouldn’t have put up as much bribe money. The point I WAS making, as you obviously missed it, is that the VOTES of huge numbers of poor and middle class people is the reason for a welfare state and the money wasn’t.

    I’d say – given history – that my logic holds up better than yours.

  88. Actually, Warwick, the reason for the welfare state was the money. Specifically that those against a welfare state took too much of it time after time. Eventually the poor will revolt. Fortunately in Canada, we had the vote rather than the guillotine. However it still meant a dramatic shift in policy and the politics of our nation, and dramatic shifts are simply not good for a country. They tend to cause serious upheaval and hurt a lot of real people.

    Allowing private financing only exacerbates this growth-revolt cycle.

  89. Warwick – again, I agree that contribution limits help control the influence of money. I disagree that they eliminate money as a factor – $1100 per person (say, $2200 per household) is still a big hit to most Canadians’ budgets.

    Propensity to donate the whole amount goes up sharply with wealth. At this point, we’re disagreeing around the margins. Thanks for not calling me an idiot that time.

    The overall point I’ve been making, however, is that per-vote distribution of public money is inherently fair, effective and efficient. It focuses both politicians and voters where they should be: on policies. And it limits leverage for whatever party happens to be rich at any given moment.

  90. Warwick, if you don’t like my tone I have others.

    If you believe, as I do, that a democratic system ought to first and foremost create an environment for citizens to make choices about the direction of the country based on their best judgement of the merits of the options before them, then you might also tend to believe that the pervasive influence of money and bagmen and political operatives on the political dynamic has the effect of preventing me from making an informed choice. Does that make me an idealistic hippie-dweeb? Maybe. If so, I wear it with pride.

    If on the other hand you think that democracy is first and foremost about choosing your leader, then you might also be of the mind that Politican X’s organizational prowess during pre-writ and/or campaign periods says something about his/her ability to lead.

    My own view on that point is that George W. Bush ran a spectacularly more effective campaigner than John McCain – but that John McCain would have made a better president than Dubya (8 years ago). I cringed when Obama made that precise argument about his “executive” experience managing his own campaign – that it had prepared him to be president.

  91. Well done Andrew. An excellent article and thumbs down to all who opposed your thoughts.

  92. d. andy jette

    But taking the bagmen and money has already been done. Limits of 1100 for personal donations and complete bans on corporate and union money.

    I fail to see how eliminating public funding changes that. In fact, given that parties will now be required to fund their campaigns entirely from grassroots, small donations from lots of people (which precludes the “rich” forming coalitions as there is statistically few rich.)

    This completes what you purport to want. On top of that, I can’t see how culling 30 mill a year worth of attack adds from the system is going to lead to distorted outcomes.

  93. I think I like the idea of not having campaigns or elections at all. Just give money. The party that ends up with most gets to govern.

    At least we’d all be spared the painful and heart-breaking experience of watching the Conservatives attempting to think and pretending to care about anything other than their wallets.

  94. Andrew:

    Two things:

    1. Re: Obama fundraising:

    The 3.1 million donors is a red herring – it is well known that several big Money supporters like Soros funded the campaign using tens of thousands of online “donors”.

    That kind of thing goes back to the days when Joey Smallwood said he got all of his money for his confederation referendum in 5 and 10 dollar donations from people in the outports when – according to Joey’s campaign manager – in reality he got millions from the Canadian government through Jack Pickersgill’s office (read Harold Horwood’s biography “JOEY” for more on that).

    2. Here’s what I posted on Warren’s site re: political finance reform:

    ” Warren:

    Here’s what the LP – read: iggy – should put forth as his/their policy on election finance reform:

    1. No government subsidy whatsoever, not even a tax write-off which is an imputed subsidy and makes donations from wealthy people more beneficial to them than those by people in lower tax brackets.

    2. No party debts or deficits allowed. Either of which is a form of campaign fraud as the public does not know who ultimately provides the funds until after the election – (was there a quid pro quo?).

    3. All people, organizations and partys who wish to be politically active have to register with elections Canada and raise funds in the manner that follows below.

    4. Donors can be canadian citizens only.

    5. However Donors can contribute to an unlimited amount

    6. But, all donations have to be done via interac bank account transfer that goes through Elections Canada and is posted immediately – real-time- on a publically viewable Elections Canada website for all to see.

    7. Any breeches of the above rules (ie. giving money to your kids and relatives our your employees to donate in their name) is punishable by mandatory jail time – no exceptions. (Campaign fraud is a form of treason/insurrection IMO)

    By getting something like this out will be welcomed as fresh proactive thinking and considered enlightened – not only in CDA – but in the rest of the democratic world.

    You are welcome.”

    What do you think?

  95. Andrew – did Barack Obama’s party have to pay for the nomination race in every state and county? Nope. Did they have to maintain a voter list? Nope. Did they have to rent hundreds of thousands of commuinity halls across the nation? Nope. Did they have to advertise the process itself in addition to their candidate(s)? Nope. All of it – every last dime of it – funded via the state legislatures. Millions of ballots, hundreds of thousands of voting locations and staff to work them. In short, hundresd of millions of dollars paid for by US taxpayers, every two years to allow their political parties to nominate candidates for every office from dig catcher to goervnor to congressman and presidential nominee. If you want to cite a US comparison, how about giving the whole picture.

    If you want to take public financing away from political parties, then either let them raise money again, or better still, let the state pick up the tag for their nominating process the way they do in the States.

  96. Oops – I bet they don’t pay for spell checking either.

  97. It is entirely within their power to do as the Tories have done, and develop a large base of individual contributors.

    I just don’t see how this doesn’t lead to parties concentrating on developing donations, as opposed to developing support among the people. I just can’t fathom how allocating money to political parties based upon their ability to put forward policies that garner the support of voters is bad, but allocating money to parties based upon their ability to raise money is good. I mean, sure, the other parties COULD spend their time focusing on rallying the base, getting people riled up, and convincing people to send their money to Party Headquarters. I just don’t see how this is somehow a more attractive scenario than one in which party funds stem from their ability to convince citizens to vote for them, and not on their ability to convince citizens to give them money.

    The argument seems to be that if I want the Liberals, or the NDP or the Greens to be able to compete with the Tories then I should write a cheque. Is it just totally naive of me to want the success of my preferred political party to hinge on what I put into the ballot box and not on what I take out of my chequing account?

    That said, I guess if this goes through I’ll have to dig deep and make a $1000 donation to one of the opposition parties. So, there, satisfied? I’m gonna write a cheque.

    I guess I’ve finally embraced “democracy”.

  98. Does anyone here not believe that when CONsevatives took $12 Billion in surplus money and another $3 Billion in reserve funds, moved Canada to the front lines in Afghanistan, move money to Quebec , made 148 political appointments, issues countless non tendered Defence contracts and excited the far right with a promise once they get a majority will move Canada fast against the right wall it will be stuck there forever. DID NOT GET THEM THE FUNDS THEY NOW HOLD…. now they are moving to destroy the other parties like they destroyed the MSM. Guess y’all never noticed the new task of the RCMP guarding the PM and vetting the public with a security ring during the past run through the Fixed Election Date. All this is chatter so they do not have deal with real issues like ADSCAM and 10% er’ mailing and other inside election tricks at taxpayer expense…. just wait to start giving deficit money away, y’all ain’t seen nothing yet…. there is no fool like an old fool and the Canadian voter is biggest fool on earth and Bush/Harper 44 know it!

  99. ahhh I love it! Put your own damn money where ur mouth is people. I make less then twenty grand a year; and I still donate to the political party of my choice. Can’t u do the same? When will the attitude of entitlement end? IF you truly believe in a cause, I don’t care how much money u make, u will do ur damnest to see it come to fruition.

    Let’s take the moral of a biblical story. Jesus and his disciples where at the temple. People of all sorts where walking in paying their tributes and tithes. The rich of course were leaving vast sums of money, which isn’t wrong, but their attitude was of a selfish nature. “Look at me! See how much money I am giving!” A little later an old woman, who was very poor walked up to the tithing pot and threw in two pennies and walked away. Jesus turned and said to his disciples. (paraphrasing here) “I assure that that woman has given more of her self then anyone here today.”

    Even if you don’t make millions of millions of dollars, give from your own damn heart to something you believe in. And if your cause doesn’t cut it and goes bankrupt…oh well! It’s not my responsibility, through my taxes, not anyone else to make sure ur ideals are met.

  100. Mark,

    Or the liberals can humble themselves enough to fundraise from the little people. It works for the conservatives who get almost all of their donations from people who donate under $200.

    The liberals were the party of the rich and the corporations. Now they’re hurting because they’ve always disdained joe six-pack. They’ll come back when they’ve shed the denial and adjusted to the new world. There are a lot of liberals out there. Try asking them for a few dollars. Building that capacity may even get more people involved and make them more in tune with the peasantry.

  101. Another question – given the severe limitations on donating, how on earth does public disclosure of paltry sums enhance our democracy? Really?

  102. Lord Kitchener’s Own

    To sum up your point: “I want a say but don’t want to pay.”

    Put another way: “I think all you other people should pick up the tab for my choice.”

    Is a lousy $2 of your OWN money a year too much to ask you to sacrifice?

  103. I read Mr. Coyne’s remark that he was “fascinated by the abusive tone of so many of the comments” before reading the actual comments. I don’t see it. I think this is a fight he’s all geared up to have and he’s not seeing clearly.

    I don’t have strong views about the best way to finance the parties, but i don’t think the system should be changed suddenly, without consultation. It seems to me the right way to do it would involve some sort of attempt to reach a consensus among the parties, and public debate. If no consensus emerged the government could then introduce its own legislation.

    To me this particular proposal looks more like a political tactic than a serious attempt at reform.

  104. there is no fool like an old fool and the Canadian voter is biggest fool on earth

    Meh. I like to keep the faith. We do tend to make decisions in the aggregate that send a message to our elites that we’re very displeased. Like an excruciatingly close referendum on breaking up the country or three minority governments in a row.

    Our elites are foolish, that’s undeniable…this post is, yet again, a manifestation of that. But Canadians, on the whole, are pretty sensible.

  105. ‘Demosthenes makes the point better than I did: Even under a maximum of $1100, no one person gains undue influence. But populations begin to gain influence – by province, neighborhood, race, etc. according to their aggregate donations. ”

    And that’s a good thing? Basically what you’re arguing is that minority groups should always have limited influence. So right now a group of people in, say, the gay community, could get together and mass donate to a party to help influence policy. But under your system, the gay community will *always* be out-contributed by the straight community and there’s not a damn thing they can ever do about it. Serves you guys right for being only 10% of the population!

    I think groups such as visible minorities and the LGBT community should be allowed to have ways to have influence beyond their population size. Otherwise everything.. absolutely everything.. will be determined by straight white anglos. I can’t for the life of me see why you think that’s a positive thing.

  106. Did anyone catch Flaherty’s statement? I didn’t see any mention of the size of cabinet in news reports of it. I take it he didn’t announce cabinet was going back to its pre-election size. How does Harper justify such a substantial increase in cabinet and costs just at the time he is trying to convince us government needs to cut back? Any Harper supporters care to offer an argument?

  107. Joe sixpack isn’t donating anymore to the conservative party than to anyone else. Wingnuts who’d like to burn the Charter, throw gays in prison, reinstate capital punishment, dismantle social programs, horde automatic weapons in their basement and close abortion clinics might be, but joe sixpack? nah.

    And that, in a nutshell is why the Tories have such a great fundraising base. Ten years in opposition with a pretty good idea of what gets people angry will get you a pretty good list.

  108. Warwick wrote, “But taking the bagmen and money [out] has already been done.”

    Respectfully, no they haven’t. The money’s still there, and the bagmen just have to organize bigger dinner parties than they used to.

  109. “Joe sixpack isn’t donating anymore to the conservative party than to anyone else. Wingnuts who’d like to burn the Charter, throw gays in prison, reinstate capital punishment, dismantle social programs, horde automatic weapons in their basement and close abortion clinics might be, but joe sixpack? nah. ”

    Nice cartoon villian you’ve setup.

    How long have you been segregated from Canadian society. Or do you just assume that approximately 40% of Canadian’s are all evil because they don’t bow down to the Liberal Party?

    However I recall being to CA and CPC meetings, yet don’t remember all the calls for burning the Charter, or throwing gays in prison. It seems the only people that make those exagerations are the few left wingers who sport tin-foil hats.

  110. By the way Mark, all you stated was the Joe Sixpack is stupid or simply ambivalent towards politics. Otherwise he would start funding one of the left of centre parties against this threat. That is unless the other 60% of Canada doesn’t care if “gays are thrown in jail.”

  111. It just proves how sexist the Conservatives are that Warwick didn’t mention Mary Winebox along with Joe Sixpack.

  112. Regardless of your position as to the validity of the measure, this is the most inappropriate time to put it forward. It’s a relatively minor amount of funds reallocated, but it is tabled as the very first measure of a new government, in economically precarious times. It was solely intended as a declaration of war to forment political ends. There is nothing preventing the Harper government from putting this piece of contentious legislation on hold until later in their term, and to focus instead on more pressing matters of government . That they do not do so tells you all you need to know.

  113. Mike – my point was not that minority groups *should* have limited influence, rather that they *would* have limited influence, depending on their propensity/ability to donate the max.

    I absolutely agree that small groups need influence beyond their size, where it is necessary to alleviate discrimination etc.

    My point was that even a reasonably low contribution limit like $1100 does not eliminate the advantage that money brings in political influence, especially in the aggregate. And that’s a bad thing.

  114. “My point was that even a reasonably low contribution limit like $1100 does not eliminate the advantage that money brings in political influence, especially in the aggregate. And that’s a bad thing.”

    But it’s the only way that minorities have a fighting chance at all, because if an issue really affects them they can disproportionately donate to a cause. But now you’ve taken that away from them, as donations are forced to be proportional to the size of your population.

  115. If people aren’t willing to even fund their political causes, then it most likely isn’t a worthy political cause. I give money to charities and political organizations all the time, not out of compulsion, but due to the fact I generally believe they are their for the betterment of our society. It would be nice if those on the left began to see it the same way.

  116. My point – BDJ, was to simply reject the notion suggested above that Conservatives have a monopoly on donations from joe sixpack. They do, however have a monopoly on other groups. Undoubtedly, lefties corner the market on particular demographics as well. Whoever joe sixpack is, nobody said he was stupid, but I can state with certainty that joe sixpack is generally not donating to anybody.

  117. Uh, sorry Mike. Basic statistics suggest that the group with the higher population will be *better* able to donate disproportionately, because the sheer numbers mean they’re more likely to have the type of voter that can both get up in arms about a subject and has the ability to donate in larger amounts.

  118. d. andy jette

    The donation limits count for dinner parties (and auctions) as well as the liberals found out to their embarrasment.

  119. Mike – yes, I understand what you mean.

    But individual contributions favour the rich, even under contribution limits. I’m not suggesting we limit the ability of specific groups to raise money/activism etc., I’m suggesting that cash-out-of-pocket contributions are not how disadvantaged groups successfully gain political influence.

  120. “Whoever joe sixpack is, nobody said he was stupid, but I can state with certainty that joe sixpack is generally not donating to anybody.”

    Yes, therefore Joe Sixpack quite frankly doesn’t care if “gays are thrown in jail” according to your logic.

    Conservatives aren’t the evil cartoon villains that you like to paint here on an internet discussion board. They tend to be people who work 40hrs a week, and think the best form of government is self government. Even in the province I’m from which is notorious for it’s conservatism, we don’t jail gays, simply because we value individual freedom and initiative. Something which is likely more beneficial to Canadian’s then dependency on government welfare.

  121. Oh – and BDJ – where on earth are yuo coming up with this 40% number? Do you really think 40% of Canadians donate to the Conservative party? or to any party? I’d be shocked if more than 1% of Canadians donated to any federal political party.

    I’m sure the folks at Focus on the Family are relishing their inflated role in Canada’s political system, courtesy of Jim Flaherty today.

  122. “But individual contributions favour the rich, even under contribution limits.”

    I’m by no means “rich” yet I’ve given around $200 dollars to the CPC, same with other charities. When I give money it’s not because I want more influence in the party, but because I generally agree with said parties principles. It’s unfortunate that the Liberals can’t get that money, however if people don’t support their principles then they shouldn’t expect to be propped up by taxpayers. Same goes with the Green Party and Bloc, if someone strongly believes in environmentalism and separatism they should vote with their wallots and either give a toonie or more money to said parties to make up for the shortfall.

  123. “Uh, sorry Mike. Basic statistics suggest that the group with the higher population will be *better* able to donate disproportionately, because the sheer numbers mean they’re more likely to have the type of voter that can both get up in arms about a subject and has the ability to donate in larger amounts.”

    I must have missed that lecture in my Ph.D. statistics class.

    There’s tons of evidence to suggest otherwise, anyway. Do you think the average straight person donates as much to ‘straight’ causes as the average gay person donates to issues affecting the gay community?

    Your suggestion completely eliminates the ability of minority populations of having any pull in the political system. In my view, that’s a bug, not a feature.

  124. “I’m suggesting that cash-out-of-pocket contributions are not how disadvantaged groups successfully gain political influence.”

    It’s exactly how they do. Immigrant populations tend to donate disproportionately to political causes than do non-immigrants. LGBT populations tend to donate disproportionately to political causes than do straight people.

  125. “Oh – and BDJ – where on earth are yuo coming up with this 40% number? Do you really think 40% of Canadians donate to the Conservative party? or to any party? I’d be shocked if more than 1% of Canadians donated to any federal political party.”

    No, I was talking about the proportion of popular vote the CPC got which I rounded off at 40%. However I’m still taken back by the fact that according to you the majority of Canadian’s are ambivalent to homosexuals being imprisoned. Surely one would think that Canadian’s would be throwing money at the Liberals.

    “I’m sure the folks at Focus on the Family are relishing their inflated role in Canada’s political system, courtesy of Jim Flaherty today.”

    All I can say is that it’s unfortunate that the left is now showing signs of laziness. Perhaps you should consider donating some money, or some time to a political cause instead of forcing the taxpayers to do it for you.

  126. I never said Conservatives were evil villains. I’m saying you cornered the market on cranky right wing zealots who are dispropotionately more likely to donate money to right wing political parties, hence the gazillions of ten percenters sent into ridings on the taxpayer dime designed to stoke anti-gay, anti-government, anti-Charter, anti-equality, anti-French anti-whatever sentiment.

    It was a brilliant decade-long fundraising strategy. And it worked.

    Hats off to you. Sooner or later Liberals will find something that offends voters enough to rally against from church basements as well. It just might take some time in Opposition and a few Mulroney-esque moves from the governing Conservatives to see it happen.

  127. Can you imagine Robert Stanfield pulling a cheap trick like this? Only the name Conservative remains; the party has morphed into meanness.

    Clarence Burton

  128. “I never said Conservatives were evil villains. I’m saying you cornered the market on cranky right wing zealots who are dispropotionately more likely to donate money to right wing political parties, hence the gazillions of ten percenters sent into ridings on the taxpayer dime designed to stoke anti-gay, anti-government, anti-Charter, anti-equality, anti-French anti-whatever sentiment.”

    Great analysis, but I’m fairly certain that it’s BS.

    “Hats off to you. Sooner or later Liberals will find something that offends voters enough to rally against from church basements as well.”

    Don’t worry, unlike yourself I don’t have such a negative view of the Canadian population at large. However I can’t help but wonder if you were ever a member of the Carleton University Students Association give your cartoon villain views of people who donate to political causes.

  129. “Can you imagine Robert Stanfield pulling a cheap trick like this? Only the name Conservative remains; the party has morphed into meanness.”

    Awe yes “meanness.” I remember the glory days pre-2006 when their was no partisan bickering in parliament….

    Never mind, that’s just a delusion.

  130. Gay Groups Use Donations to Become a Force in Elections (New York Times – October 25, 2008)

    The city of Rochester and its suburbs along Lake Ontario may seem an unlikely focal point for the national gay rights movement.

    But many of the philanthropists who have bankrolled gay and lesbian causes throughout the country have poured tens of thousands of dollars in the past month into the State Senate campaign of Rick Dollinger, a Democrat and ally of the gay community. Mr. Dollinger is challenging a Republican incumbent, Joseph E. Robach, whose district includes Rochester.

    Mr. Dollinger is not the only beneficiary of the gay community’s largess in this election. From Suffolk County on Long Island to the suburbs of Buffalo, checks from donors in far-flung places like West Hollywood, Denver and Chicago have been pouring into the campaigns of Democratic Senate candidates, adding a surprising dynamic to the battle to oust Republicans from their last post of power in state government.

    Click on my name for the rest of the article.

    This is a great tool minority communities have to gain influence. Under a government-financed system of financing political parties, this goes away and the LGBT community loses all influence.

  131. Under the deletion of monies to politic parties the conservatives loss the less 37%, and all monies that go to these parties come from Canadians one way or another. Religious groups tend to give monies to the conservatives. On the matter of pensions, mainly corporate pensions, the announcements seems to have been a temporary move, the finance minister said he would have a further announcement re these pensions, and coupled that with regulatory regulations, since these pensions are covered under regulation regulations, it is my guess that he plans to end these regulations surrounding pensions, and becoming the responsibility of the companies. In a majority they said they would not continue the CPP for the future, although it is my understanding it will be around while the monies last.

  132. What about standardized campaigning? Is it possible? Could we have a system where extra $$ won’t help you because everyone attends the same debates, information sessions, and gives out the same number of information pamphlets, tv ads, etc? If it were possible, would it be fair?

  133. Wow – BDJ – you really have a hard time understanding anything I’ve typed. I’m explaining the advantage you have in grassroots fundraising, not assigning a characteristic to everyone who donates to your party. Like John A. MacDonald famously said: “I cannot say that all grits are horse thieves, but I can say unequivocally that all horse thieves are grits”. Now. Turn your blinders off for a second, remove the sharp object from the seat you’re sitting on, get a dictionary to help you with tricky verb tenses and the like, and go back and re-read whatever I wrote that got you all worked up. Jeez.

  134. Perhaps the solution is to implement political party spending limits in the neighbourhood of $1 million per year, with any donations beyond that level being taxed at a rate of 100%.

    I’m sure everyone would be equally dissatisfied with this!

  135. I like the fact that my vote influences the political party fortunes. The Subsidy goes to the party “I” vote for….It gives me a little control, more then just past the post win/lose. Its only 1.75 or whatever, but its better then nothing.

  136. I’d also like to point out that none of this was mentioned by the Conservatives as part of their platform in the recent election, despite it being the most pressing measure they chose to enact.

    As to the Obama comparison, Obama hasn’t turned around and called an end to campaign matching funds that his opponents depended upon. If he were to do so, it would rightly raise a conflagration and be seen as a cheap political move to weaken future competition. Just because Obama did something one way, does not mean that all future competitors must adhere to the strategy he did.

  137. “Wow – BDJ – you really have a hard time understanding anything I’ve typed.”

    Probably because it’s based on a narrow minded image of the world that’s been shaped by a cartoon villian view of people that disagree with you.

    “explaining the advantage you have in grassroots fundraising, not assigning a characteristic to everyone who donates to your party.”

    Except for:

    “Wingnuts who’d like to burn the Charter, throw gays in prison, reinstate capital punishment, dismantle social programs, horde automatic weapons in their basement and close abortion clinics might be, but joe sixpack? nah. ”
    -Mark

    “Now. Turn your blinders off for a second, remove the sharp object from the seat you’re sitting on, get a dictionary to help you with tricky verb tenses and the like, and go back and re-read whatever I wrote that got you all worked up. Jeez.”

    Don’t need too, I actually understand what you originally stated which was more or less bashing people for donating to the CPC. Then you get into a tiff when called on it. But I don’t require a dictionary, all I require is common sense, something many seem to lack when it comes to financing political parties.

    But all I can say is that it’s obvious the Tories have a stronger support base, precisely because it’s the party that supports individual initiative. Something that the other parties should learn about if they require more grassroots support.

  138. Lord Kitchener’s Own

    To sum up your point: “I want a say but don’t want to pay.”

    Put another way: “I think all you other people should pick up the tab for my choice.”

    Is a lousy $2 of your OWN money a year too much to ask you to sacrifice?

    If you’re saying that I should feel ashamed that money from taxpayers that don’t vote is part of this system, well sorry, but I don’t feel bad about that. This isn’t some secret program. Everyone knows their tax dollars go to finance our system based on the results of the election. If people can’t be bothered to vote, so as to have an influence over where that money goes, well, too bad. It’s people who don’t vote who are letting us down, not people who don’t make individual contributions to political parties. My duty is to vote, not to write cheques to political parties, and excuse me if I think parties should be rewarded based on their ability to get citizens to vote for them and not on their ability to get donors to give them money.

    I just don’t understand this mentality that somehow giving cash to a political party is, or should be, as integral to democracy as voting. That the ideals I espouse should be left unrepresented unless I’m willing to pay for a group to fight for them. That if the party in power happens to have a huge monetary advantage and wants to try to bankrupt the opposition, well, that’s the citizenry’s fault for not donating more money to the opposition parties. What? You thought democracy was about voting and policies, not money and advertisements? Schmucks.

  139. I believe it would be fair.

    However, lets look at the reason they are cutting this funding, in the last election I heard the conservative party say they wanted to eliminate fringe parties, even the Liberals, this smells like extreme measure of control, eliminating their financing is one way to do it?

  140. “I just don’t understand this mentality that somehow giving cash to a political party is, or should be, as integral to democracy as voting.”

    It should, political movements tend to be made up of people who put time and resources into the political process.

    “That the ideals I espouse should be left unrepresented unless I’m willing to pay for a group to fight for them.”

    Or for that matter put any time or resources into fighting them. If you don’t feel so strongly about it as to canvass or give alittle bit of money, then the ideals aren’t really that worthy.

    “That if the party in power happens to have a huge monetary advantage and wants to try to bankrupt the opposition, well, that’s the citizenry’s fault for not donating more money to the opposition parties. What?”

    It is, it’s called individual responsibility. People should learn to become more reliant on themselves rather than the government.

    “You thought democracy was about voting and policies, not money and advertisements? Schmucks.”

    If winning elections was all about money, Steve Forbes would have become President.

  141. I am shocked that people are complaining about a small amount of money to help politic parties to run for an election, we need opposition parties or we do not have a democracy. Who cares how they get the monies as long as they get them, my dollars also go to parties are do not vote for, its the nature of the beast.

  142. Thank you for this wholehearted support of a policy I feel is FANTASTIC. In modern day Canada it doesn’t matter what the government says or even what the opposition says – it all boils down to what slant or spin people hear in the media. I am glad your voice is being raised on the side of democracy whereby the citizens, through their volunteering and small donations, decide which parties and policies thrive and which go by the wayside. Allowing special interest and one issue parties to reap millions from the taxpayer is counter to democracy and has led to a more divisive and destructive Parliament.

  143. “Who cares how they get the monies as long as they get them, my dollars also go to parties are do not vote for, its the nature of the beast.”

    Yeah, and it shouldn’t be that way. If you J Boileau were a strong Liberal or NDP supporter you can support that party by either donating money or becoming a member. I’d strongly go with the latter as that would give you abit of a voice in the LPC.

  144. Harper and Flaherty and his political clones spouting off on TV are saying this down fall is short lived

    …………………..Try 2015…AND THAT YOU CAN TAKE TO THE BANK, BIG CHANGE IS COMING…DOES ANYONE REMEMBER THE 60-20-20 PLAN THAT WAS PUT TO MSM? briefly then dropped!

    From BBC News

    The report says 370,000 jobs could be lost in London (7.9% of all jobs in London) by December 2012
    170,000 in Yorkshire & Humberside (6.8%)
    230,000 in the North West (6.7%)
    180,000 in the West Midlands (6.6%)
    280,000 in the South East (6.3%)
    130,000 in the East Midlands (6.0%)
    170,000 in the East (6.0%)
    70,000 in the North East (5.7%)
    130,000 in the South West (5.1%

    Nuff said…..for Britian…

    Other News my phone just rang and it was a call on behalf of PMSH asking for a donation….? Hello… another trip to see the GG… has this man no shame?

  145. Pat Martin’s all fired-up like over this. But then again, what’s new?

    If this spurred on the creation of a coalition government amongst the opposition (and it would have to include Bloc ministers, surely), that would just say it all right there.

    Maybe Dion won’t be the first Liberal since Blake to never become PM?

    It would take massive balls and gall (surely the BQ would provide that) to attempt, but who knows? And what would the Rae and Iggy minions be told to do?

  146. Chretian,in part, introduced the campaign financial reform in 2003 as an attempt to reduce funding to the Conservative party. You may recall that in 2003 the Liberals were enjoying a majority government and the Conservatives were in disarray and mired in debt. By limiting contributions from Corporate and individual donor’s I saw it as an attempt to financially cripple to Conservatives. This would have been succeed had Harper not united the Reform and Progressive Conservatives party’s and put together a highly effective fundraising machine.

    While I am a conservative supporter, I am getting disillusioned with the mean spirited approach of Steven Harpers regime. He is starting to remind me of George Bush’s approach to politic’s (ie a partisan approach to politics). Haven’t the Conservatives learned that in these times of economic turmoil Canadians need to pull together and not look at ways to create more division than already exists.

    The Conservatives have missed a huge opportunity and instead have embarrassed themselves.

    Dave

  147. Hey Coyne, if you really want the public to stop subsidying political parties eliminate the ridiculously high tax credit provided for political donations!

    When I donate 100 bucks to a political party it costs me 25 bucks and the federal treasury 75.

    TOTAL HYPOCRISY

  148. I would be delighted to see abolished the preferential self-serving subsidy of political contributions through the income tax system. Bring it on. Until then, this move is a step in the right direction. OF COURSE it is a shrewd (cunning) (evil) political move to gain advantage over rival parties. OF COURSE it is a shrewd (cunning) (evil) political move to say “Look, we’re taking the most money away from our own party.” OF COURSE it is a shrewd (cunning) (evil) political move to list a bunch of measures and watch the opposition parties focus on whining only about their own entitlements. It just all has the added benefit of being the right thing for the country.

  149. I’d like to point out that your $2 donation gives you a 75% tax credit. So really, you’re donating 50 cents a year if you want the Liberals to get this money. I’d throw two quarters at Stephane Dion just for the fun of watching him cry.

    Also, most people in favour of this seem to make the assumption that a vote (“Given my options, I would like the candidate from your party to represent me in Parliament”) is consent for money (“You are free to reach into my wallet for up to 4 years”) But it’s not. Otherwise, these people would already donate and it would be unnecessary. Your consent to govern is given with your vote, and your money when you give your money.

    Every election, there is a swing in vote, which means parties are given money based on the support of those who don’t support them anymore. Perhaps funds should be issued quarterly as dictated by the latest Nanos poll. Or do we not trust Nanos anymore after he missed last month? This is important, because people change their minds and the funding formula favours the most recent winner. Funding based on last election’s votes stacks the deck against an opposition rallying public support. We might be hearing exactly this argument right now if we didn’t have an opposition that is utterly incompetant and has no confidence whatsoever in its ability to remedy this situation.

    As for the Bloc, I think it is a relevant point. Go to the CBC Archives and watch any video of a rally during the salad days of the separatist movement and you’ll see how pathetic it is now. Forming a new country is an inherently passionate political enterprise, but not enough Quebecers can be roused to donate to this cause to keep it functioning without the generosity of the Canadian public. If running an election with solely the funding it can raise dooms the Bloc to irrelevance, than irrelevance is exactly what it deserves.

    My parting thought is that I’m not so sure this is the best crass political move for the Tories. The Liberals have enough talented political operatives that I have to assume they will adapt, but apparently not until they absolutely must. Strategically speaking, better to keep them on welfare than to make them clean up their act.

  150. Parties should not receive tax dollars for every vote. Parties are private enterprises that are in the business of selling ideas. If a party’s ideas fall flat, people won’t vote for it or donate any money to it. The only way to raise money should be through donations, and nothing else.

    It is not exactly democratic to expect, say, a Liberal taxpayer to fund the NDP or any other party. Apart from that, $30 million a year may not be much by comparison, but in these difficult times, every single penny counts.

    Liberals, who have had a hard time prying donations out of the pockets of grassroots members, will be hit hard by this measure, for sure. There are already calls for the government to be brought down over this, because supporters of the opposition parties are afraid that their parties will go bankrupt.

    Well, that would be too bad, but if they do, it would merely reflect popular will. This will force them to put their money where their mouths are. Instead of professing allegiance to the Liberals or NDP, etc., these supporters should write cheques and send them to the party of their choice – something that Liberals have been extremely bad at for several years now.

    If a party cannot survive on members’ donations, it loses its legitimacy and deserves to go under. Simple as that.

  151. If a party cannot survive on members’ donations, it loses its legitimacy and deserves to go under. Simple as that.

    Uh oh…Werner’s going “Conservative” again.

    Seriously, you can plan the harvest around Patel’s mood swings.

  152. Goodness me.

    The left’s in full froth mode. Two principal reasons:

    1) it cuts at the nanny state, and

    2) the cuts to the nanny state goes to their maintaining power,

    (which is the purpose of the nanny state to begin with).

    Thinking about that puts one into a tailspin of reification upon reification.

    Thus the froth.

  153. If you could actually do a task as simple as copying a person’s name correctly, readers would be a lot more impressed with your contributions, Ti-Guy.

  154. Mr. Coyne:

    Agreed. This is a step in the right direction. Thanks for the accurate articulation of the challenges of the current regime. Now let’s see this enacted, and not just proposed.

    Keep up the good work.

  155. This is one subject Andrew Coyne and I are in full agreement. I strenuously object to having my tax dollars supporting a party that I would not support at the ballot box particularly a Separatist party who wants to break up my country.
    The Conservatives will lose the most money in dollar terms and the %’age is neither here nor there. All parties have the right and do fundraise. Some are more successful than others. That’s life. They have had 5 years to adjust to the new fundraising rules.
    Of course the oppposition parties are couching their objection to the economic update as insufficient because it contains no stimulus for the economy. That’s pure bull. It is the cut to the government subsidy that will hurt big time and so they are trying to make Canadians think it is their concern for the economy that is paramount. Yeah, right!
    A realistic plan would be to wait for the budget and then judge the economic stimulus as lacking or otherwise. There is the real reason to put a government down through non confidence.
    If they think the GG will support a coalition of misfits including a Separatist party they better rethink the strategy. To force Canadians into an election before Xmas because of their own self interest invites a massive defeat particularly for the Liberal party. Canadians rejected Dion the first time out why would the Liberal party believe they would accept him now? They really need to have their heads read if they think this strategy will work.

  156. Oh, and Ti-Guy, I don’t have “mood swings” (how unconstructive of you to respond to valid arguments in a discussion with nothing but personal attacks). I follow a very clear line, one that all partisans, like yourself, are invariably incapable of: common sense.

    Depending on the issue at hand, common sense sides with Conservative, Liberal, NDP, etc. ideas and policies, respectively.

  157. I totally agree with getting rid of campaign welfare. They should also raise the donation limits to at least $2000.

  158. Flaherty said one truth…. allow me to paraphrase, Canadians can and have overcome many challenges and will come out strong….. Yes Jim old buddy, we the 70% who did not vote for Stephen Harper will stand behind the three leaders we choose and let them run this country in her troubled times….now how does that grab you…. I say do it now, no more games (waiting and allowing hard working Canadians to suffer while you wait for all hell to break out to hide your deficit in a multi $ billion dollar bail out package) Dion/Layton/Duceppe unite think three heads are better than one…. this could be just the Canadian tool to hold up as real example of political corporation to the world!

    If Canadians allow Steve Titanic Harper to keep his hand on the tiller with Jungle Jim as the look out until February or March 2009 then a debate then a vote then an election ……… shut the lights out now and spare the suffering………… for if not it going one heck of a ride to the bottom.

  159. totally agree with getting rid of campaign welfare. They should also raise the donation limits to at least $2000

    A reminder of who Roy Eappen is.

    Gourmet or Gourmand?

  160. Oh, and Ti-Guy, I don’t have “mood swings”

    Yes, you do. It’s your most endearing trait.

  161. Mr. Coyne,

    I am afraid your reasoning is about the separatists fallacious. By saying that the taxes of all voters fund the separatist bloc (or any other party for that matter). Sine these 30 million dollars of general revenues are generated by the approximately 30 million Canadians. Since only voters get a say in how that money is spent (non-voters forfeit that privilege) than the 15 million voters get a chance to contribute that 30 million dollars (approximately $2 per vote). You can tell me that of my $2, 74 cents goes to the Conservatives, 52 cent to the Liberals, 36 cents to the NDP, 20 cents to the Bloc and 13 cents goes to the Greens, just as realistically I can tell you that my $2 goes to the Liberals. In actuality no one knows or cares how 30 million toonies gets divided up.

  162. It’s predictable that certain parties would be squealing the loudest. Getting political parties off welfare is an idea that most Canadians will support. Good leadership from the Conswervatives; high-velocity squeals from the others.

  163. I conclude from the volume of commentary that the dominant crisis facing Canada today is the threatened removal of the taxpayer subsidy of political parties. I am relieved to learn that not only are there no other more pressing concerns, but that other concerns are so minor and so lacking in urgency that we can afford the disruption of another election. Thank you all, for that clarification.

  164. Brad: if it is so unimportant and contentious, surely the government would withdraw their scheme in order to assure government can proceed with more important matters.

  165. “I’d throw two quarters at Stephane Dion just for the fun of watching him cry.”

    Absolutely the BEST comment of the thread, hands down.

  166. David Bakody, I may want to have your children.

    It is amazing how a party with barely 30% of Canadian support, think they will run the country into the ground without opposition.

    Thank you

  167. I just finished watching the “at issue” panel on The National.

    Here I thought that Coyne’s bizarre nod to Maxime Bernier where he declared him “the greatest Industry Minister this country has ever seen” was just a momentary brain fart, he goes and does this.

    I have always admired Mr. Coyne’s intelligence, even when I disagreed with him (which is often). This post along with his thoroughly nonsensical comments on today’s At Issue panel have just shown how incredibly wrong I have been about the man.

  168. This post along with his thoroughly nonsensical comments on today’s At Issue panel have just shown how incredibly wrong I have been about the man.

    Yeahbut was Mr. Coyne smirking? I saw him smirking the other night on TVO and I couldn’t help but think he was saying to himself “I can’t believe I’m being paid for this!”

    It’s kind of touchingly earnest, when you think of it.

  169. Don’t worry, Boudica. I have it on good authority that Allan Gregg reached through the camera and strangled him as soon as they were off air. Kind of sad, really. That Kady wasn’t there to live blog it.

    Maybe just a dream. But it would be nice to be rid of two pompous blowhards at the same time.

  170. I watched the news and read comments here and other blogs and was left with the impression that the only thing the Finance Minister did was cut subsidies to political parties. Then I caught the entire speech on CPAC and was blown away at how far reaching and comprehensive the whole package was. The only think these opposition parties seem to care about is loosing some of their pocket change. As the Finance Minister noted, the taxpayers are still funding parties to the tune of 40 to 50 million dollars when you count the election rebates and the dontation tax rebates. Opponents keep crying this will kill democracy. Bull — what this will do is strengthen our democracy – Mr. Chretien got big business and unions out of the business of buying politicians and this measure will get special interest groups out of the business of pressuring and politically blackmailing the feint of heart – all politicians will have to be aware of what their constituents and supporters are willing to support, willing to tolerate and willing to fund – after all, democracy is about the people having the power — now it is the people who hold the purse strings of the parties and they had better start listening to the people and not just the squeaky wheels.

  171. Um, no. The money comes from general revenues. There isn’t some income tax check-off whereby the individual taxpayer gets to decide who gets his money (though that would be an improvement on the current setup). It all comes from the taxpaying public as a whole.

    It’s true that the money is allocated by the decisions of Bloc voters, but that’s a different thing entirely. That the Bloc is helping itself to public funds via Bloc supporters does not alter the fact that a separatist party depends for almost the whole of its funding on the taxpayers of Canada.
    —-

    But isn’t it also true that separatists pay taxes to a government they hate, and thus are some of the taxpayers of Canada? Your argument is circular.

  172. Excellent analysis Andrew. I too am amazed by the opposing responses. I just don’t understand why parties shouldn’t be expected to raise their own money. Its just another level of democracy, whereby political parties lose their legitimacy not only through declining vote totals but also through declining donations, as the Liberals are currently experiencing. This is good for Canada. Public financing takes the edge off the effect of declining private donations to political parties. All governing parties will look at Adscam and its resulting effect on the Liberal party of Canada and think twice before they try something similar.

    This legislation will pass.

  173. Werner Patels: “Parties are private enterprises that are in the business of selling ideas”

    No they are not. They are the most regulated entities in the country, their sources of financing are extremely limited, they have a moral (and a Charter) obligation to reach out to and inform all Canadians, and represent the only viable means of governing our country. They are not a private entity.

  174. Coyne’s insistence on the At Issue panel tonight that the primary objection of the opposition parties to today’s fiscal non-update was the elimination of the taxpayer subsidy is a red herring. None of the opposition party leaders made that the point of their objection to the update – all said they objected to the government’s intention to do nothing to prevent further damage to the economy or to help those who have been hurt by the financial meltdown. Mansbridge intervened at one point to put a lid on Coyne’s persistence in expressing ad naseum his absurd opinion. It spoke volumes about Coyne’s grasp of politics and of economics.

  175. This is a bizarre blog post. You argue, rightly so, that unions and corporations shouldn’t be able to buy elections. But then state that somehow giving minimal public support based on voters choices violates that principle. Am I missing something here? Does this post need to be proofread or revised?

    The fact is that $1.95 per vote is not a huge amount of money, especially when so many people are opting out of our outdated first past the post, winner takes all electoral system. But it does go a long way towards supporting a range of political views. I suspect that relying on individual donors to support parties would hugely advantage the Cons and the Libs, meaning we would move to a two party system similar to the US. Do we really want to do that? Or do we want a healthier, more diverse debate in this country? I don’t see how this improves our democracy, I really don’t.

  176. Great, another conservative thinker pumping his fist in the air for elitist ideology. Now rich people can give money to whomever they want and our votes wont equate to any money going toward the party we vote for.

    Itll save $30 million a year, thats chump change for the government and giving that money has been good for the parties, sure the conservatives want to get rid of it, they already have the rich funneling money to them, they can survive without the money but they know they will hurt the other parties and thats their reason for it.

    This isent about fairness, its fair to give the money to the party I vote for, this is sleazy, american style politics, something the author obviously admires.

  177. baldygirl: “THE ABILITY to throw it at them unfairly puts lower-income persons at a disadvantage in terms of their ability to financially support a party of their choice” I think this comment is nonsense. The only way the poor would be disadvantaged in this circumstance would be if they were disproportionately present in one of the parties. But the poor are spread across the political spectrum — undoubtedly equally (it would certainly be hard to prove otherwise). The poor may not individually be able to donate their $1100, but because they are part of a collective, I do not see that they are in any way disadvantaged, or at least not any more disadvanted then they are by not being able to shop at Hold Renfrew.

  178. What about the idea that elections should be entirely funded by the state?

    ssprenfrewshire
    ….peeling apartThe Union since 1998

  179. “Great, another conservative thinker pumping his fist in the air for elitist ideology. Now rich people can give money to whomever they want and our votes wont equate to any money going toward the party we vote for.

    Itll save $30 million a year, thats chump change for the government and giving that money has been good for the parties, sure the conservatives want to get rid of it, they already have the rich funneling money to them, they can survive without the money but they know they will hurt the other parties and thats their reason for it.

    This isent about fairness, its fair to give the money to the party I vote for, this is sleazy, american style politics, something the author obviously admires.”

    Hey ArghMonkey, this measure will occur IN ADDITION TO Harper’s exisitng “no-individual-may-donate-more-than-$1300-per-year-to-a-politcal-party” election spending rules. The Conservatives make loads of dough from lots and lots of small donations thanks to a finely honed grass roots fundraising system. It has not a thing to do with “the rich funneling money to them.”

  180. The one thing Andrew overlooks in all of this is the fact that individual donations are 33% to 75% (depending on the amount) TAX DEDUCTIBLE, which means that scrapping the $1.95 per vote is doing nothing to get parties off the dole. If the conservatives raise 10 million from donations, that means taxpayers gave, at the very least, $330,000 to those who donated, but it’s probably closer to $500,000. If the party financing system is going to be funded by taxpayers, it’s better that it comes as a reflection as individual votes rather than letting specific donors dictate who gets the public money. (ie, if I want to give the NDP $300 from the public trough, I just have to write a cheque for $400 and I get $300 back on my taxes.) The Tories are hypocrites for ending the pay-per-vote system while keeping the bounty that they received from the taxpayers by the tax-deductible donations. Andrew should be advocating scrapping the tax deductibility if he truly wants to get “parties off the dole.”

  181. @Ben – Sure it does, how many Canadians give money to political parties right now? Ask how many Canadians can afford to give money out of their pocket and youll find a lot say “Id like to but I really cant afford it right now”.

    Having this very small amount of money given based on votes only helps our democracy, its helped the green party and theres a group thats been systematically shutout from politics because the conservatives and liberals cant stand competition. Having that money available helped pay for things needed to run campaigns.

    What this will do for conservatives is ensure that only those with spare income (the rich) will be giving donations to their party of choice, the rest of us will scrape whatever our dwindling middle class incomes can muster and most wont give a dime even if they support the poltiical party!

    The conservatives get most of their money from rich people and they dont like the idea that groups like the NDP and the green party get any money from the government at all.

    Just like Harper and his whining over set election dates, when it suited him he cried foul and pushed for change but as soon as he cried that he didnt want to work with other parties to get laws made he turned around and called an election.

    This is a setup, the hope is less money will go to liberals, NDP and the greens, conservatives get enough money already from businesses and the wealthy (not to mention the disgusting religious of this country) and they want to set Canada up as a two party system (that way they can force their dark aged thinking onto our progressive country).

    If anyone doubts the motives of Harper and his ilk they need to pay better attention.

  182. By the way this whole article smacks of conservative nonsense, the title alone is laughable.

    Why dont we just say our entire country is on the dole because government pays for roads or schools ? *L*

    Ever notice the best way to cure a conservative is to educate them?

  183. FYI Andrew Coyne used to write for the National Post which is the FOX NEWS of Canadian newspapers, hes and advocate for dragging our supposedly peaceful country into this abstract “war on terror”, like the middle east is a threat to Canada or that a “war on terror” can ever be won or even should be fought!

    He also has a masters degree in economics, money is his focus, would he spend his time writing articles about strengthening the middle class? I doubt it. I need to read more about this guy, ill bet hes a proponent of trickle down economics. Funny how people who are good with economics are usually terrible at whats best for the people.

    I notice he has a pedigree as well,, his father was governor of the bank of canada, cousin is a constitutional lawyer and he even has an actor sister.

    Im sure his conservative roots, masters degree in economics and powerful, elitist family ties wont conflict with making sure he writes articles that support the middle class of Canada, wait, who am I kidding, im sure he doesnt give a moments thought about the lives of most Canadians.

  184. “@Ben – Sure it does, how many Canadians give money to political parties right now? Ask how many Canadians can afford to give money out of their pocket and youll find a lot say “Id like to but I really cant afford it right now”.

    Can’t afford a five dollar, ten dollar, twenty dollar donation? Listen, if people feel strongly about something (and have a part time job at MacDonalds) they could find the money for a donation of that size. If they don’t think the current selection of politcal parties deserve their dirty dimes, they hold onto them (I would fit this category).

    The Reform Party, the Obama campaign, the current Conservative party, all made their bread and butter on tons of little donations of fives, tens and twenties. They developed a message that made people care enough to donate what they could spare. IThere is no reason all parties can’t do the same.

  185. @Ben – The reform party had some deep pockets, the consevatives definitely do (including money from americans who support Harpers agenda). As for the Obama campaign your right but its more complicated then that, the internet played a huge role and Obama initially dropped the ball, it was only after the success of guys like Ron Paul online that the Obama campaign kicked it into high gear (hijacking a citizens myspace page for Barack for one example) and do I have to point out that americans only voted in droves for Barack because their economy is on the verge of collapse, they suffered through 8 long years of the Bush administration, the american people would have voted for Satan if he promised to keep them from total destruction, but Obama is a special case, most of the time americans are apathetic, indifferent to politics, the masses are stupid, just like Canada, they vote based on sound bites from lieing politicians and the worst of the pack are conservatives of any stripe.

    The bottom line is who cares about Obama? His place in poltiics has nothing to do with Canada, NOTHING, we need to take steps to ensure our thriving democracy, one of those is to mandate that a certain amount of money goes to political parties we vote for, this makes the vote more effective and in a way almost more democratic. It means every voter is also a donater and parties can count on a monetary reward for their work after an election. Its fair, its democratic, it helps parties like the greens immensely and its peanuts when you look at the big picture.

    I see no good reason to not do it!

    You toss a comment like “and work part time at macdonalds” like its nothing, why not just say “well if people are broke they can just get another job to support the party they like”, give me a break Ben.

  186. haaaaaa não sei o que dizer rsrsrsr

  187. I agree that political parties should not be aloud to get fat off the public purse. But there is no more democratic way of allocating election funds than by linking those funds directly to the will of the people–all the people, not just those with extra money to give to politicians.

    By socializing the democratic process, every vote has equal weight. Everyone, wether you can afford a contribution or not has an equal voice. $1000 may not sound like much to some, but I bet the vast majority of Canadians could not afford donating that much to a political party.

    I’m not saying private donations should not be allowed—otherwise fledgling parties (such as the Greens) might never get off the ground. But abolishing the grant outright disenfranchises large portions of the public from the democratic process (which relies on money). Money should not be the criteria by which you have a voice in your government.

    As for public funds going to the Bloc. I say, great. Last time I checked, Canada was still a democracy. I don’t agree with the Bloc’s central goal, but I do believe they have the right , particularly as representatives of a large portion of the population, to try to further their political goals. Democracy is not about giving a voice only to those whose views you agree with. Letting opposing views be heard is the very essence of democracy.

    As for the Conservatives themselves, they represent the very essence of anti-democracy. There are a number of examples, but I’ll site just two: 1) the very fact that they violated there own election law to try and secure a majority before the economy really tanked and they would have no chance of getting elected during a sever recession; 2) cutting funds to rival political parties with no consultation with those parties, or, more importantly, with the people of Canada. They are trying to ram through a fundamental change to our democratic process with no one’s permission.

    I hope the Liberals and the NDP can put together a viable coalition and boot the Conservatives back the back benches. That’s what they deserve.

  188. @ Ben Hicks: If political parties should be able to survive on $20 donations, I’m sure you’d be in favour of capping donations at $20 per person per year.

  189. I envy you Andrew. I saw you last night on the panel and you were great. Do you get pleasure out of giving the typical CBC viewer the vapors? I certainly would.

  190. All of which misses the point: political parties should not be allowed to run candidates for public office. MP’s should represent their constituents, not pursue the agenda of party leaders.

  191. John: There’s different ways to go about it. You could let parties choose between private or public financing (but not both). You could help fledgling parties by legislation which provides even voteless parties with some amount of refund of documented election expenses. You could set a general limit for each party, and have all donations past that amount taxed from the party at 100%. Elections Canada could even provide standardized webspace that allows each party to at least have their platform available for the people.

    A lot of it boils down to whether we view political parties as private entities or public entities. Personally, I think they should be thought of as public entities, because they’re attempting to gain public office, and provide public direction and legislation. And yes, I agree with you, money should not have more power in an election than a vote. Yet right now it does.

    Ben: Thanks for disenfranchising the desparately poor. I’ve been there in my life, where $20 was what was left over for the month after rent & utilities. The food bank does not give enough food for a month, but fortunately, most people don’t like organ meats so they’re a cheap way to get a lot of concentrated nutrients.. especially when mixed with store-brand ramen. At any rate, you’re essentially advocating a system that has these people ignored — when they’re the ones who most desparately need our help.

  192. Your argument is specious. First of all, if you read my post you’d see I did not mention a cap.

    But now that you bring it up, how did we arrive at $1000? I’d bet the $1000 cap is just as arbitrary as your tongue-in-cheek $20.

    My point was not to take away people’s right to contribute–that would be undemocratic. My point is, don’t take away what little financial means the vast majority of Canadians may have to influence and participate in the political process. I am one of those who could afford to give more than $1000 to a party. So I am not speaking for myself, but for those who otherwise would not have a voice for lack of money.

    By spreading out the financial support, we reduce the influence any one individual or group has to bend the system to their will, and increase the chance that the politicians actually act on the will of the people. Remember them? You know, you, me and every other Canadian, who this country belongs to.

    If you believe in true democracy you should be livid at the Conservatives right now. I am not a Liberal or NDP supporter. I am a supporter of democracy. And we are not getting it with actions like this.

  193. Just to be clear, my post was in response to Andrew. Good points T.Thwim.

  194. Oh heck, I misread Andrew’s post. His comments were directed toward @BenHicks not me. Sorry Andrew. This is my first time posting on this blog site. Please forgive a newbie.

  195. Terrible timing by the Conservatives to cut election subsidies.
    Reminds me of the new rules on income trusts that did not allow the existing ones to be grandfathered.
    Which reminds me of Harper’s uncalled for comments on the Arts community.
    Which reminds me of the “no strike ” clause for civil service in yesterday’s” budget”.
    Do Flaherty and Harper hire new 23 year old political science graduates to come up with such annoying
    policies?
    Don’t forget , Mr Harper, that the only reason we conservatives have some power is because the opposition is ,currently,so weak.

  196. Do you get pleasure out of giving the typical CBC viewer the vapors? I certainly would.

    What is with some people who think irritating everyone is fun times? It’s immature

    I’m sure Mr. Coyne is not out to give the typical CBC viewer (a latte-sipping elitist, no doubt) the vapours. It’s this mentality, frankly that makes libertarians/classical liberals seems petty and small-minded.

  197. “Separatists are actually funded with… separatists’ money simply because anyone who vote is actually choosing the political party that will receive his $1.95 per vote.”

    Let me follow up on your response Andrew. Everybody needs to remember that there are a LARGE number of people in this country that do not pay $1.95 in taxes. “Their” money needs to come from others who DO pay taxes. Who robably don’t support the BQ.

  198. It seems to me that the people who have to wear the hat of fund raiser, and the hat of policy generator, the time they spend on one activity is not available to the other activity.

    I haven’t noticed election campaigns getting cheaper, so why is Stephen harper and his entourage forcing people to pick one over the other, when both are necessary?

  199. Anything that cripples the bloc.
    I enjoy how many of these people probably cried “waste of money” during the election, but now demand the 30million.

    If people aren’t willing to donate to your cause, maybe you need to rethink your cause.

    Libs get too many votes from people who aren’t politically active. I know many liberal ‘supporters’ who are supporters simply because their parents were, and becasue they disagree with (or are ignorant of) the other parties, not because they support the libs!

  200. News report: the Conservatives are backing down on their scheme to gut the other parties by taking advantage of a temporary weakness in their funding approaches. The issue will not go to a confidence vote.

  201. It is time to put the BQ out of business. While the opposition will decry these cuts, it is actually a good move for Canada. Mr. Coyne, please utilize your public influence to keep this thing on the rails. Canadians will support this if they truly understand the impications for teh Bloc.

  202. Michael Thompson evidently feels that the majority of people in Quebec are not Canadians.

  203. John Cerisano, fabulously put.

    To the people who think individual donations are ‘fair’ because they’re partly subsidized via tax deductions: If you look at the federal tax worksheet for Ontario (and I use Ontario because it’s my home province and am familiar with it), you’ll notice that yes, a portion of your political contributions are deductable from your federal tax owing.

    What’s interesting to me is that given the basic personal amount (close to $10k in ’07), whatever money you might have gotten back from the gov’t for a political contribution vanishes into the aether if you’re low-income (students in particular are low income and will be the ones to not, for all intents, ever see that money again; seniors receiving only OAS and GIS–who could be living on as little as $16k a year (in Ontario), which DOESN’T go very far–are also low-income, and it tends to be widows who are most frequently found in this situation).

    Now, because of where the deduction is dealt with in the income tax process, it means that low-income persons may not see a penny of that in real money at tax time. And, frankly, they could use the money the most. If it were a straight deduction that were refunded regardless of income amounts and non-refundable tax credit amounts, I’d be more supportive of the notion that individual donations could potentially be a fair party financing method. The thing is, you have to make a certain quantity of money before you will see part of your donation back as a refund. And that’s patently unfair.

    So, aside from knowing you’ll never really see that money again, you pretty much couldn’t afford to give money if you’re in that low an income situation. The basic personal amount and the other applicable deductions (tuition amounts, dependent children amounts, old age amounts, etc.) are provided as tax credits because we undestand as a society that there are basic necessities of life and it takes a certain amount of money to provide for these basic necessities (shelter, nourishment, disability supports, medical expenses*, the potential for social advancement through education**) and it’s understood that moneys up to that amount will be required in order to meet those basic necessities. It’s moneys BEYOND that that are refundable tax credits.

    ***********
    *As an aside, how is it fair to differentially reimburse medical expenses based on income? I’ve always found this disturbing. We’re expected to cover medical expenses up to 3% of our net income up the the amount of $1926 (for 2007). Anything above that is credited to non-refundable tax credits and is thus not taxable. This means that if you’re making $20k a year and you spent $2000 on medical services/goods, $1333 of that is not taxable. But if you make $100k a year and you spent $4000 (and frankly your basic needs should be more than met with that income), $2074 of that is not taxable. That’s like paying people to be sick only if they can afford to be sick (if you can afford to pay more taxes because you have a higher net income–bear with me). Depending on your other non-refundable tax credits you may never SEE that money if you’re the low income person (the potential $199.95 in non-refundable tax credits if you’re the $20k $2000 in medical expenses person). Because, again, it’s a NON-REFUNDABLE tax credit; and if you, say, have two kids, are in school, pay for public transit, etc., your tax owing might be less than your non-refundable tax credits before medical expenses are even applied. So if you’re lower income you’re expected to make do with your limited funds, and if you’re higher income you benefit. Now, I’m not saying it’s ok for wealthier people to be sick because they can ‘afford to’, but a reimbursement system that didn’t depend on tax owing (so, a straight tax credit) would me more useful to people living in low-income situations)

    **As another aside, interest paid on student loans is only deductable if those student loans meet certain criteria (and you personally have to meet certain criteria to receive those loans–if your parents make more than a certain income threshold you will not be considered as it’s assumed your parents will contribute, even if they don’t or won’t). So, for someone like me who has had to borrow money from banks to pay tuition (and I’m certainly not alone in that), none of my interest payments have been deductable. BEYOND this, if you’re repaying a certain portion of your loans every month, be they the recognized kind or not, that income counts toward your taxes but is virtually invisible in their calculation as a legitimate expenditure. Do you truly think it’s possible to live on $10k a year if you’re repaying debts? You know, if you’re paying taxes on home ownership or if you pay rent those are recognized as legitimate expenses that contribute to a reduction in your provincial tax owing if you make under a certain amount. Loan repayments are invisible, yet they have to be made or there will be collections agencies and/or infuriated bankers.

    Is this opening ANY eyes out there?

  204. So, is this “backing down” on the part of the government what was intended all along? Did Harper just want to throw a scare into the other parties and give notice of something he wants to do down the line? Or was the whole thing a big miscalcualtion? I don’t get it.

  205. Dear Andrew,

    Your take on this issue is purely ideological and quite mean spirited. You feel that the US Republican system of full private funding for political parties is superior to our system. You have become the David Frum of the Maclean’s Magazine. WOW! He would love to have your pulpit.

    Like Flanagan, you are driven not by a desire to make the electoral system more democratic. Instead, you and he and Harper are driven by a desire to destroy both the Bloc Québécois and the Green Parties and to cripple the Liberal Party which you believe is ‘socialist.’

    You have every right to take this position but then you must be honest with your readers about what it is that is driving your support for Harper’s fundamentally undemocratic proposal.

    The reason Canada and Canadians turned to partial public funding for elections was to create a more even playing field for the political parties. There are problems with the system but these can be improved. One big flaw is that outside the electoral period Parties can collect funds in any amount from any corporation or individuals. Furthermore those running for leadership of a party can collect as many funds as they want from whomever they want.

    Harper and Flanagan, with your concurrence, just may have miscalculated the reaction to this sordid tactical move. The intention is to weaken further the Liberals while putting up a smokescreen to prevent Canadians from realizing that the government intends to do little to stimulate the economy in any real and effective way.

    Andrew, don’t let your ideological outlook – your neocon tinted classed and wired mind – undermine your role as a professional, unbiased journalist. You are supposed to be analyzing political developments, not taking sides in the political wars. The credibility of Macleans is on the line.

  206. Andrew! I respected you when you fought for proportional representation. This 1.95 per-vote political funding is the closest thing to PR that we have – and the Conservatives are trying to take it away!!

    We need Proportional Representation, and failing that, per-vote campaign financing!

  207. Such a change would impact the Bloc. They raise $800,000.00 in campaign donations yet receive a three million dollar federal subsidy, through the $1.95 a vote, process to break up Canada. (source: As It Happens CBC Thurs Nov. 27 2008).

    The political response speaks volumes on Canada’s political class. Taxpayers, not politicians, should be tightening their belts. Given this furor how much lower will voter turn out go?

  208. There are really only two explanations (neither flattering) for this extremely bone-headed approach on the part of Harper.

    Either he is not the brilliant tactician he is made out to be (a distinct possibility) or he has engineered his own defeat to either try again for a majority or get out from under this financial mess and hang it around the neck of a weakened Liberal Party.

    Harper’s two possible political epitaphs: a tone-deaf blunderer who severely mis-read the political landscape or a Machiavellian cad who put the pursuit of his own political power before fulfilling his duty as PM at a time economic crisis.

  209. Goodness Coyne, I used to have more respect for you before this article, now I’m appalled that someone of your calibre is fundamentally misunderstanding the way these subsidies are financed. Yes, the subsidy comes out of general revenues but don’t forget that SEPARATISTS PAY TAXES TOO. Think of it this way: the 8% of people who vote for the BQ (on a national basis) also contribute 8% to national tax revenue (presumably) and therefore their party receives 8% of total government political subsidies. When I vote for a party, I am effectively diverting $1.95 towards the party of my choice and taking it away from every other party.

    So don’t worry Coyne, none of your tax dollars are going to the BQ. The $1.95 taken from you in taxes has been effectively directed to the party you voted for.

  210. As a Liberal supporter in Alberta, I can tell you that the only reason I continue to vote is to make sure the Liberal Party gets its’ subsidy. I know many other Liberal voters, in Alberta, who vote this way or vote for the Green Party for this same reason.

  211. I can tell you that the only reason I continue to vote is to make sure the Liberal Party gets its’ subsidy.

    What a splendid democratic display of the democratic value of a citizen’s vote. Join the club around here. Pffft.

    Really, TrueGritCalgary, that’s the only reason? How much of your life could you have back if you didn’t vote but sent your beloved Grits a cheque for five, ten, fifteen, fifty bucks? The CRA would even return to you an most generous portion of that contribution. May, one day, that previous sentence be as truthful as it is sensible.

    Anyone who will go out of their way to vote for the “only reason” of wrestling a couple of bucks a year out of the publc treasury for their preferred party, but can’t be arsed to just pay that equivalent amount themselves, well…

  212. madeyoulook, that is a $1.95 out of the nearly $15 000 in federal income taxes I pay every year. So forgive me for wanting to make sure that the party that expouses the ideas I believe in gets an amount that they are entitled to by law. If you lived in Alberta, you would know that our turnout is horrible because even Conservative voters know, 20 years ahead of time, what the results will be. I will start sending cheques to political parties when the government passes a bill giving charitable donations a similar tax exemption as political donations.

  213. the $1.95 is the only value that my vote has in the first past the post system. please don’t take that away from me.

  214. It’s a good point that was raised that I thought earlier but didn’t voice:

    The subsidy weakens the motive for strategic voting. If you vote for the third party in a riding, your vote is essentially meaningless, and if you prefer the second party to the first you should vote strategically–after all, no harm done to your preferred party. But when voting strategically hurts your first choice party, I suspect that many people are more likely to stick to their honest preference. The Greens are living proof of this.

  215. Yeah, but the opposition didn’t get in a fury because of the high minded idealism for voters of minor parties. They did so because even two years from now, they don’t trust their supporters to give them money. It isn’t as if the supporters of the Tories are any wealthier than Liberals or the NDP, but the Liberals and the NDP require the public purse to keep their war chest full.

  216. As a Liberal supporter in Alberta, I can tell you that the only reason I continue to vote is to make sure the Liberal Party gets [its] subsidy. I know many other Liberal voters, in Alberta, who vote this way or vote for the Green Party for this same reason.

    madeyoulook, that is a $1.95 out of the nearly $15 000 in federal income taxes I pay every year. So forgive me for wanting to make sure that the party that [espouses] the ideas I believe in gets an amount that they are entitled to by law.

    Right there, is an eloquent demonstration of the perversion of democracy created by the system currently in place.

  217. Whether you agree with the cut or not, it is wrong at this time and executed in this manner for a few reasons.

    First, when Chretien brought this in, the subsidy was to be a balancing act to counter the reduction of corporate donation celings that he was bringing in…..there is a subtle balancing act here about the money, how it flows and how it influences, there was theory here and a plan…….Harper simply cut, without regard to the WHOLE formula and without regard to the underlying theory of it.

    Second, our democracy is not a line item on a spreadsheet. When Chretien initiated reform and as others did before him…..they did not tie it to the equivalent of a fiscal ‘memo’, sneaking it in and hoping no one would notice…..they isolated the issue as one of electoral reform, they studied, got imput, collaborated, sought out advice and so on…..they did not think of it as a ‘nice to have line item’ and slap it on an update.

    Third, let’s pretend that this isn’t a big sparkly straw man issue that Harper has thrown up as a means to deflect from their distinct lack of ideas….let’s pretend that this is indeed a fiancial cut that Harper is proposing and positoning this as……..there are a TON of other cuts that could be made that would save more, cause less fuss and would hardly be noticed….ie: Human rights museum, 100 million…just for starters.

    And Harper is clearly just not that into this cut either…..even he is backing away.

  218. I might also add…that until Harper clears up any ‘issues’ (shall we call them?) with election expenses and Elections Canada, he might do well to shelve talk of reform until he has the moral authority to actually speak objectively about it…..otherwise this looks like a cynical and poltically motivated straw man issue that he will never be taken seriously on.

  219. “Are Obama’s supporters a “limited economic demographic”? All 3.1 million of them?”

    I think you can’t really fairly compare the success of Obama’s fundraising to what a political party here in Canada could achieve. With 10 times the population and a two party system it would be easier for a US party to grow it’s grassroots donation networks and benefit from the snowball effect.

  220. Several people have suggested something to the effect that: “The conservatives get most of their money from rich people ” This is NUTS. There are just as many “well-to-do” people supporting the Liberals and the NDP. In the case of the NDP it may not be the super rich, but they have plenty of union people, university professors and teachers supporting their party. CPC have small business people, many rural people with marginal incomes . . . and yes, also fundamentalists with lots of kids. I think this is a question of where people’s priorities are. Conservatives are not the party of the rich, but they are a party that seems to have connected sufficiently with their members that their members are willing to donate — often small sums — to promote their views being represented. I think having to rely on party donations makes parties more responsive to their constituents. The Greens have not elected a single member. So if it is the public subsidy that is keeping them in the game, would their views not be better reflected through donations to a larger party? To date, they are a lobby group, rather than a party. I don’t mean to disparage their efforts, and in fact I support much of what they do, but I really do not see the logic in saying we must have taxpayers supporting parties to ensure that minor parties, such as the Greens and the Bloc can survive. It is the support of individuals that makes a party viable or not. It is utterly bizarre that the Liberals have not been able to connect with many grassroots supporters since they lost their corporate donors. I think the opposition looks very bad in putting the legitimacy of a duly elected government on the line for the sake of preserving their right to live off of the public purse.

  221. >Brad: if it is so unimportant and contentious, surely the government would withdraw their scheme in order to assure government can proceed with more important matters.

    Why? It’s $30M per year to be saved. Contentious cuts for much smaller amounts have been made in the past, and government managed to proceed to more important matters. I guess it’s different if your lobby group has Parliamentary privileges.

    Anyone who wants to try to make the case that this funding will render the parties unable to communicate their platforms in the next election, go for it. There’s no objective reason every organized party shouldn’t face in principle exactly the same challenges facing any independent candidate.

  222. And per LindaL, there are indeed _many_ well-heeled Liberal and NDP backers whose lives are greased by party connections. Surely they can afford to cough up the limit.

  223. Any time you want to correct your facts, Andy, go right ahead:

    Le Devoir: “Contrairement à ce que d’autres médias ont rapporté, le Bloc québécois ne sera pas affecté à hauteur de 85 %. Depuis que le gouvernement verse des allocations, le parti de Gilles Duceppe laisse ses circonscriptions conserver presque tout l’argent recueilli, d’où ses résultats de financement national en apparence faible.”

    “Treason”? harsh words for an entire people excluded from the constitution of their own country. Any thoughts on native demands?

  224. The point of the restrictions on corporate and union donations was that elections should be a matter between the candidates and the voters. Corporations and unions don’t get extra votes in the ballot box, and shouldn’t get extra voice in the fund-raising contest. Nor should corporate and union leaders be able to donate other people’s money on their behalf. Whether to contribute to a political party, and how much, and to whom, should be a private, personal matter — voluntary, individual decisions.

    The $1.95 “allowance” violated every one of those principles.
    — How so? Corporations and unions aren’t increasing donations to parties with the allowance. Contributing to parties is still a personal matter. The only principle that’s being violated is the on you tacked onto the end “voluntary, individual decisions”.

  225. Um, no. The money comes from general revenues. There isn’t some income tax check-off whereby the individual taxpayer gets to decide who gets his money (though that would be an improvement on the current setup). It all comes from the taxpaying public as a whole.

    It’s true that the money is allocated by the decisions of Bloc voters, but that’s a different thing entirely. That the Bloc is helping itself to public funds via Bloc supporters does not alter the fact that a separatist party depends for almost the whole of its funding on the taxpayers of Canada.

    —-Well actually you are being dishonest. The only “taxpayers of CAnada” who are funding the Bloc are the ones who didn’t vote. Let’s simplify this so you can’t be dishonest anymore:

    Canada, for the purpose of this story, has 100 eligible voters, and everybody votes, because their politicians aren’t dirty schemers and so they feel good about politics as a whole
    20 idiots vote dark blue
    10 people with no better choice vote light blue
    40 geniuses vote red
    20 nice people vote orange
    10 hippies vote green

    each of these people pays $1.95 in taxes because 100 people voted and $195 will therefore be needed to give out to the parties.

    While that 195 will then be parceled out so that everyone is helping pay for everyone, if you think about it, in reality, each person only paid 1.95, and so if we’re being HONEST about it, nobody else paid for their vote.

    Where this doesn’t work so cleanly is when you have large amounts of eligible voters not turning out. But that’s their problem, they aren’t exercising their democratic rights.

    So, yes, you were being dishonest.

  226. Ignore, too, the complaint that somehow this cripples the political process. Much of the subsidy we have been paying these people goes to the very things that are currently poisoning the political process: over-priced strategists and attack ads, push polls and focus groups. Who needs it?

    —-well, no. the vast majority of negativity in the electoral process has been conservative generated. they are playing the game rove-style, a fact no honest (major proviso there, mind-you) person can deny. attack ads, push polls, and focus groups have been conservative obsessions these past years. therefore since the conservatives are the least subsidised party, one could surmise that subisdies are certainly not required to pay for “the very things that are currently poisoning the political process”

  227. Some of this subsidy (a dwindling amount of it, unfortunately) also goes toward holding democratic process like nomination meetings and leadership votes – things which Andrew constantly neglects to mention are paid for in their entirety by the public purse in the American example he cites so frequently.

  228. Andrew,

    It seems that some (perhaps many, I didn’t count) posters are not able to fully comprehend the difference between the allocations of funding coming out of voter’s party preference and the tax dollars being spent.

    When I read your thoughts on this, it is clear that you understand the difference. For it is indeed the case that the $1.75 ($1.95??) per vote is to be allocated toward political parties, depending on the total of the votes having been received. The more votes the more the tiny sums add up for each party accordingly. And so yes, the voter is thereby directly involved in the allocation of those funds.

    But the filling up of the collective tax pot comes about differently. The collective taxpot is being filled up by those who pay taxes. Most pay taxes – a little, a lot – while others pay no taxes at all. And so the allocated $1.75 per vote, might not, in fact does not directly correspond with taxes incoming.

    In other words, some taxpayers will pay for the per vote $1.75 contribution more than once. Some taxpayers will see their $1.75 being allocated to the party they had voted for, fist and foremost, while besides that, another portion of their paid taxes will go to the funding of political parties who they themselves had never voted for. In other words, some (none tax paying) voter’s preferred allocation of $1.75 will be paid for by others.

    That is the difference between the two. But it is an important distinction to comprehend when debating this issue. Not comprehending means rendering this debate futile. And that would truly be too bad.

  229. We seem to have in front of us, the unfolding of two scenarios: One seems to be the lack of an economic stimulus package, and the other seems to be the public funding of a separatist party. But the two are very much connected. In fact, the connection defines Canada’s current dilemma: the existence of a separatist party forms the continuous stumbling block for furthering the advancement of a prosperous Canada; without being able to deal with this separatist’s lopsided development, Canada’s economic stimulus, either dreamed up within uncertain economical times or ongoing or conceived now or later, will be misrepresented and will be for naught in the long run; The province of Quebec should be considered in completely or not at all.

    Some people are afraid to look at what is really going on inside the room. The current dysfunction of the Liberal Party of Canada and the existence of the Bloc Quebecois Party, are like a pair of elephants in the room. That in itself does not make for an embarrassing picture; we have gotten used to it by now. Yet, what is embarrassing to look at is the scene of these two elephants making out in the middle of the room.

    Whereas once the Liberal Party of Canada and the Quebec people had formed a happily married couple in the past – they had celebrated their many anniversaries, the silver, the gold, the platinum – they are now divorced and have been for years. In between the many anniversaries, they, in turn, had sought out other partners, lovers of a kind, for when the need arose. Also, the teachings of the Catholic Church had become too restricted for the marriage to fully flourish; times had been a-changing and the close partnership had not always seen that one coming! But during the ongoing marriage, all had been forgiven; the marriage had been a strong one.

    The Liberal Party of Canada has not been able to deal with the aftermath of the divorce all that well; its after-divorce life could be regarded as finding itself in a state of severe and deep depression. The Quebec people, however, seem to have adjusted well after the divorce; single once again, the people of Quebec found their voice (BQ) and the alimony payments appear sufficient. Ex-husband Chretien was a generous man, but we shall soon discover where he got the money for making his alimony payments.

    Alas, now that the Liberal Party and the Quebec people have been officially divorced, why are they still making out as ex-lovers in full view of everyone within the room?

    Such a strange country we live in. Canada: a so-called stimulus package touted about as being necessary, cannot be defined by any stretch of the imagination, yet, such package, thus far completely undisclosed by opposition parties and media alike, seems to be able to virtually undo this current government, soon. The sooner the better! Out with Harper! But the current Harper government, in fact, is all in favour of taking the necessary time to properly evaluate what this economic stimulus package should contain if and when one is needed (the words ‘if’ and ‘when’ being of great importance). The next financial statement will provide further updates. But such government proposals are dismissed by the opposition parties and media alike. Such proposals are deemed to be so un-Canadian.

    This up-front posturing by the opposition parties, and many voices coming from the media, might be due to the long believed-in notion that Canada should not stand as leader but should always walk as a follower; other countries (many, so many!) have unveiled their ‘stimulus packages’ (really?), and so Canada should not be left behind. Never! Where Canada finds itself standing – we are still standing, are we still standing? – seems to be beside the point. Business tax cuts (being overly helpful now, under the circumstances) had been announced in previous budgets. The GST had been cut by two percentage points long ago (foresight anyone?) but are only now being taken into consideration by other countries. But never mind. Making use of comparison to Britain and the likes is done so arbitrarily: another fine Canadian custom to uphold.

    This posturing then, this touting about of the need for a stimulus package, thus far undisclosed by all the opposition parties, is regarded and is to be seen as real Canadian leadership. The undisclosed truly does wonders! And it does its wonders precisely because the opposition needs to disclose nothing but to talk about stimulus packages, which, thus far undisclosed, can and will mean absolutely everything to everybody. Ah, the Potential, the Potential. The Potential!

    On the other hand, we have a proposal – the elimination of public funding for a separatist party – which is clear-cut, which is straight forward and leaves nothing to the imagination (even the BQ leaves nothing to the imagination), yet has been severely criticized upon by the opposition parties, and media alike, as being disgraceful. Yet, what exactly is so disgraceful and distasteful about the proposed change is not elaborated upon further. (Here again we find ourselves within Canadian custom territory: President elect Obama is our hero too, yeah, yeah, Obama, but when it comes to comparisons in regard to Obama’s fundraising methods, we prefer not refer to ‘our’ hero. ‘Foresight anyone?’).

    The fact that Canadian taxpayer’s money is being used for propping up a separatist party is graceful, is tasteful?

    I will say that ex-husband Chretien should pay the alimony coming out of his own pockets. But now it seems the Canadian taxpayer is willing to pick up the tab ongoing and more besides.

    I would suggest that the recently divorced people of Quebec, in the form of the BQ, start looking for a real job. They had never been held back during their years of strong marriage. They have always been in position of taking up courses wherever they could be found. Surely, having found its new independence must not be undermined by a lingering sense of dependence; it can break the spirit; receiving alimony payments eternally must be stifling that sense of a true independence somewhat, one would think. Oops, did I say ‘think’? Sorry, but the sentimental needs to go sometimes, as happens after all divorce proceedings, eventually.

    But there we have it: a room full of people too embarrassed to look at the two elephants making out in the middle of the room; The conduct of two ex-lovers doing their thing, all the while the Liberal Party of Canada eyeing its new lover in the form of the NDP, courting this new lover, while simultaneously trying to satisfy the BQ ( they being fully aware, while making out, that the stranglehold marriage is and will remain a thing of the past) with slogans such as ‘stimulus packages, now!’ (of course, the NDP readily agrees: the more the better!; that has always been their slogan. And, as we understand it, the BQ is forever prepared to take on more money from the ex-partner; that is to be part of the complete satisfaction), and “the country should continue picking up the alimony tab.’ ‘By the way, let’s pay ourselves some alimony out of the same pot (the tax pot, in case that wasn’t clear enough); we, the Liberal Party of Canada, were partners in the divorce as well, you know!”

    Yeah, we know, but we’re not supposed to know. Canada should continue believing that no hanky-panky is going on. After all, it’s Harper who had the dirty mind. Dirty, dirty mind Harper! It’s Harper who doesn’t know what he is talking about. But I think he does know what he’s talking about, and furthermore, I do think Harper wished he could talk about it much more openly so that the Canadian people would be forced to look at the two elephants making out within the room.

    But perhaps Harper thinks it too embarrassing for pointing out, and if so, I would whole heartedly agree with him on that. (Chretien courting Broadbent, while making out with Duceppe??? Who really wants to look at that picture?) But, all Canadians have this in front of us and we know it!

  230. Just think! Maybe the Tories can have their cake and eat it too! In the name of fiscal responsibility, the Tories can save the country $30 million and turn Canada into a one-party state at the same time by depriving all the other parties of funds at election time. This is a stroke of genius that only a machine politician like Stephen Harper would come up with. Let’s face it: the fact that the Tories were only able to win a plurality in the last election prooves that Canadians don’t really want him as Prime Minister any more than they want the others. It’s just that the Tories can’t really dump Harper as party leader until they actually lose an election, because he appears to be “successful” at winning elections. However, if the Conservatives can make it impossible for the candidates of the other parties to stand for parliament, they won’t have to worry about losing elections or replace party leaders who can’t win them. That’s why one-party dictatorships have always been attractive to machine politicians like Stephen Harper, or at least Joseph Stalin.

  231. About that treason thing: Hopefully, you won’t forget to mention it next time the issue is discussed by that “At Issue” Panel you are on, eh?

    Because I think that whole notion of the BQ being a pack of traitors has legs, really! If you keep saying it on every platform, maybe some of those poor lost souls who actually voted for thos rats will hear about it… And then, at last the travesty of our once great democracy will come to an end!

    Right?

    Come on Andrew, just do it!

  232. Andrew, how could you be so wrong as you were Thursday night on At Issue? Every point you tried to make has been proven irrelevant. Sad to see such an appealing writer get it so wrong!

  233. “Andrew, how could you be so wrong as you were Thursday night on At Issue? Every point you tried to make has been proven irrelevant. Sad to see such an appealing writer get it so wrong!”

    Hey,I feel the same way! So first Andrew recycles almost word-for-word the very same arguments used by other conservative pundits like L. Ian MacDonald at the National Post, complete with factual errors like the 86% figure about the Bloc’s share of funding, and the very strong use of the word ‘treason’, then he goes on TV and tries very unconvincingly to have us believe he actually believes those arguments himself…

    Am i the only one to think someone is executing a play?

  234. ” factual errors like the 86% figure about the Bloc’s share of funding”

    So, angryfrenchguy,

    what would the numbers be according to you? Tell me in your own words how much public money the BQ party machine runs on?

  235. “at the same time by depriving all the other parties of funds at election time”

    Who is depriving whom from what. As far as I know, president elect Obama ran his campaign on donated money, and the Conservative party of Canada seems to be able to hold its own when it comes to comparisons.

    Oops, sorry, never invoke the name Obama and Harper in one sentence. They should have nothing in common, at least nothing when observing what’s actually happening out there:

    Democratic slogan supreme: “Change! Change!”

    Governor-General, would you be so willing as to appoint as our new Canadian PM Mr.Ignatieff a man thus far unelected by his own party AND a man thus far unelected by the Canadian voters.

    Democratic slogan supreme: “Change! Change!”

    Well, the Governor General has no background in constitutional matters. Yes, yes, but she can always ask for advice, not?

    Not according to the hat we had pulled Palin out of. Sorry, my mistake: it was the hats we’d been wearing. New hat now!

  236. Francien — Ignatieff, though rejected by the Lord, certainly was elected by the good citizens of Etobikoe. Stephen Harper’s never been elected by Canadians as anything but the MP for Calgary Southwest. His appointment as Prime Minister resulted from his being leader of the largest group of MP’s in the House, as would the appointment of a new prime minister next Tuesday.

    Useful background reading here.

  237. As the Opposition Liberals and NDP feverishly met behind closed doors to discuss ways to form a “viable” coalition-From Wikipedia, the encyclopedia-A coalition is an alliance among individuals, during which they cooperate in joint action, each in his own self-interest.
    collaborating with pq?? what will your group be called.? may I suggest the “quisling party” -Thesaurus-Noun.quisling – someone who collaborates with an enemy

  238. The Bloc is good for Quebec.

  239. Andrew Coyne,

    You said on CBC that “Harper is pursuing his own partisan advantage” in trying to end the public subsidy.

    You also agreed enthusiastically with Chantal Hebert that it is “very true” that it is the obligation of a minority government to gain the confidence of the house, and nodded when she argued that a minority government does not have a mandate to change election rules.

    How then can Harper’s divisive and partisan proposal be “fantastic news”, and how can you suggest that they should “ignore the howls of the opposition”?

    Even the NP editorial and several conservative commentators are laying this one on Harper. If you considered the interest of the country above your ideology, you’d agree.

  240. Sam Green,

    but Harper is putting the proposal (to do away with public party subsidy ) in front of the HOuse. Harper is clearly saying that the opposition has the right to defeat the motion.

    What Harper is objecting to is the appointment of Dion as the PM by GG appoinment because the Lib party does not have the seats for such proposal and needs the help from other parties, but hose very parties Mr.Dion needs to form a goverment are directly opposed to what the Liberal party stands for, and thereby Mr.Harper wonders how such an agreement could possibly serve this country. It would be impossible, really, if you think about it.

    The only alternative would be that the Liberals and the NDP drastically alter their stands from where they stood during the most recent election.

    interesting.

  241. Across the land we all harken to the clarion mandate of Stephen Harper’s last election results.

    Mmmn… nah.

    If the other parties form a coalition they will succeed in forming a more inclusive and representative government than PM Harper has ever shown even the slightest interest in, and slightest is pushing it.

  242. “but Harper is putting the proposal (to do away with public party subsidy ) in front of the HOuse. Harper is clearly saying that the opposition has the right to defeat the motion.”

    My point was that this is clearly not an attempt to gain the confidence of the house, which Coyne agreed was their obligation, even while cheering them on. See, I was just pointing out how he was contradicting himself.

    “What Harper is objecting to is the appointment of Dion as the PM by GG appoinment because the Lib party does not have the seats for such proposal and needs the help from other parties,”

    Also true of the Tories.

    “but hose very parties Mr.Dion needs to form a goverment are directly opposed to what the Liberal party stands for,”

    Also true of the Tories. They need less help to be sure, but on economic matters, the three opposition parties are closer together than the Tories are to any of them.

    You might look up minority government…

  243. Sam,

    “Also true of the Tories. They need less help to be sure, but on economic matters, the three opposition parties are closer together than the Tories are to any of them.”

    Now they are because the want to form a goverment together, but when you look at their platforms, the liberals side with the Cons side of things as often as with the NDP, and therefore your point on minority goverments being equal for the Cons is not entirely true.

    The Cons received dubble the votes compared to the Liberals and therefore the Cons only need a few votes to come to their side,whereas the Lib will need many, many. Almost too many to be put in charge of forming a government. That would be the difference.

    Yes, a minority government needs to come to an agreement with the lacking number of seats, but the Cons do not need the full slate of LIb party seats, nor the full slate of NDP (or BQ) Some members of the opposition parties might decide to vote with the government or disappear when voting time comes.

    If the Lib would form government they would need a complete other party support to survive any vote, actually, they will need one complete other party and then some………..

    The cons are obviously not in the same position. To belief that would be false.

  244. Here is Obama and the Cato Institute on campain financing by taxpayers.

    “Obama himself has given mixed signals about it.”

  245. The Cato Institute interview is interesting. A bit like what we here in Canada are dealing with in terms of the Human Right Commission’s interference with publications.

  246. I’m too lazy to go through ALL of these posts, but I’ve read enough of them to confirm that there is an increasingly large segment of left wingers in this Country that is beyond either enlightenment or redemption.

    Their visceral and pathological hatred of the Tories in general and Mr. Harper in particular simply boggles the mind, some even favouring a new Ottawa with Dion as P.M., Jack Layton as Finance Minister and a Cabinet post for Duceppe, who would hold the balance of power.

    Sic transit gloria mundi…..and God help us all!

  247. Lawrence, emigration has not yet been banned. You may want to take advantage of that before us socialist lefties seal the borders.

    Pleasant travels!

  248. T. Thwim…..so far only La Belle Province wants to seal it’s borders, but you “socialist lefties” are welcome to move there…..you’d probably wallow in that repressive regime. Have a pleasant stay!

  249. If this were such a good idea, how come Harper was so quick to pull it off the table? The fact of the matter is that people have a right to freedom of association and participation in political life. Interest groups are allowed to participate any way they see fit. When Jean Chretien amended finance law, he introduced the public funding formula in order to make the restrictions on unions and corporations withstand court challenges. If Harper had proceeded to gut the law, there would likely have been a successful Charter court challenge. Andrew Coyne knows all about losing court challenges, so expect him to whine about this point. The fact of the matter is that Harper has played fast and lose with democracy in Canada, attacking Elections Canada, skirting and violating the law, trying to bribe a MP to get his vote, moneylaundering to circumvent election finance law and other shenanigans. Who exactly funds the National Citizens’ Coalition that paid Harper’s salary all those years? Who funds the Fraser Institute? Don’t expect such questions from Coyne, the partisan ideologue!

  250. Who founded the Bloc Quebecois and led it in the beginning? Lucien Bouchard. Who brought Lucien Bouchard to Ottawa, installed him in the Government of Canada and promoted his career in the heart of our federal government? Why, Harper’s good friend, advisor and fellow Conservative, Brian Mulroney! Harper has been playing the game with the Separatistes that Mulroney taught him. Note how Harper speaks in French first, delivering important messages, then delivers the English version, how Harper has shovelled money into Quebec, trying to buy votes, and how Harper recognized the Quebecois as a distinct people!!! Fortunately, the Quebecois are not so dumb as Harper thinks to be bought off and Harper got a good kicking in Quebec for his rightwing attack on culture in the last election. Harper’s buddy in Quebec, the equally opportunistic loathesome race-baiting Mario Dumont is about to get a political thrashing from which he is unlikely to recover. Harper is done as well on Dec 8! Great!

  251. Has this thread expired?

    If not, one must assume that yet another hapless lefty has abandoned the field of battle, confronted with elementary school logic and therebyrendered speechless.

    Hey Thwimmer, be sure to tune in tonight for the news from your sole source of info, our tax-supported MotherCorp (which wouldn’t last a week on it’s own) to bolster your sad, sick philosophy.

    Be of good cheer, however…..for you have hundreds of thousands of fellow brain-dead travellers in downtown “Tarrana”, Montreal and Vancouver, who in every Federal election keep screwing up the wishes of hard working, tax paying citizens all across this (formerly) great Country.

    For shame, Thwimmer, for shame!

  252. Well, I didn’t count on Roger, Roger jumping in here with his recognition of Harper’s legitimate (yet predictably rejected) concessions to the never-satisfied Quebecois.

    Unfortunately, due to Roger’s unabashed fawning over the shamelessly crooked “little guy” Golfcourse Millionaire, his “arguments” fall to an abysmal level when he gives CREDIT to those ungrateful, biting the hand that feeds them amphibians who have deluded themselves from day one that the history-changing battle between Montcalm and Wolfe was somehow a “draw”.

    It was nothing of the kind, and only in good old Canada would a national government go along with this Alice in Wonderland scenario for 140 years, helped immeasurably by our tax-supported MotherCorp.

    But, we pride ourselves on being the “nicest” Country on the Planet….brain dead of course, but really NICE!!

    Roger, it’s time to realize that what elevates us from the animal kingdom is our cranial capacity, not our emotional sensibilities.

    But…… I may as well be yelling at a goldfish when it comes to reasoning with Roger, just another product of Trudeau’s empty-headed and Justice System legacy of destruction.

  253. I see there is no sign of intelligent life forms here recently! lol. I won’t waste anytime on the fool who tried to address me, but whose work is so mediocre as to be beneath my dignity to make reply. No doubt he is a follower of Mr Coyne.

  254. Let’s just cap individual donations at $1.95, and include a check box on the ballot indicating if you want the party for whom you’re voting to receive the money or not (only catch is how to refund the money if you say ‘no’).

    That way each voter decides directly where the money goes, it is limited so that Petro Canada executives don’t have 1000x the sway of the panhandler at Elgin & Rideau, and our politicians can spend their time thinking about and implementing ways of making our country a better place to live.

  255. A gem in the goldmine from Francien, who should sincerely consider shutting up: “but Harper is putting the proposal (to do away with public party subsidy ) in front of the HOuse. Harper is clearly saying that the opposition has the right to defeat the motion.

    What Harper is objecting to is the appointment of Dion as the PM by GG appoinment because the Lib party does not have the seats for such proposal and needs the help from other parties, but hose very parties Mr.Dion needs to form a goverment are directly opposed to what the Liberal party stands for, and thereby Mr.Harper wonders how such an agreement could possibly serve this country. It would be impossible, really, if you think about it.”

    FRANCIEN. If Harper is saying the opposition has the right to defeat it, and Harper makes it a confidence motion, then Harper is putting them in a position where appointing Dion the head of a coalition party is their best option.

    And as another poster said, voters vote for MP’s, parties vote for leaders. Dion was voted in, thus his party if they gain power has a right to let him lead it.

    The current Tory ‘outrage’ is drivel meant to win over the weak of mind, They took advantage of an economic crisis and tried to bankrupt all three opposition parties – everything that is currently being done to stop them is more than fair, in context.

    So do shut up. And stop commenting on every little thing anyone says. It’s annoying.

  256. I like the vote subsidy. In my riding, the first-past-the-post system guarantees that my candidate will never, ever win. Knowing the party of my choice will gain $1.95 of my tax dollars gives me a reason to vote anyway.

    Canadians have gone to the polls three times in four years, and each time, a clear majority of us has voted against Stephan Harper.

    If the opposition parties allow him to go on governing as though he has a majority, everyone who doesn’t want Harper to be prime minister (more than 60% of the electorate) will be unrepresented in Parliament.

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