‘We have a responsibility’

by Aaron Wherry

Jim Flaherty, November 27We cannot ask Canadians to tighten their belts during tougher times without looking in the mirror. Canadians have a right to look to government as an example. We have a responsibility to show restraint and respect for their money. Canadians’ tax dollars are precious. They must not be spent frivolously or without regard to where they came from. Canadians pay taxes so governments can provide essential services. They trust the people they elect to serve society with that money, not serve themselves …  Canadians pay their own bills and for some Canadians that is getting harder to do. Political parties should pay their own bills, too, and not with excessive tax dollars. Even during the best of economic times, parties should count primarily on the financial support of their own members and their own donors. Today our government is eliminating the $1.75 per vote taxpayer subsidy for politicians and their parties effective April 1, 2009. There will be no free ride for political parties. There never was. The freight was being paid by the taxpayers. This is the last stop on the route. There will be no free ride for anyone else in government either.

Stephen Fletcher, August 10Mr. Fletcher also defended the Ten Percenter program, saying that people might not like the content of the flyers but they contribute to the “public discourse.”




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‘We have a responsibility’

  1. Mr. Fletcher is wrong. The ten-percenters contribute nothing to the "public discourse."

    • I think you are using the word "contribute" in a positive sense, whereas Mr. Fletcher is using it in a neutral sense. In the sense he uses it in, if one were to walk around Steven Fletcher's house all night shouting "F*** you Steven Fletcher you goddamned liar!" one would be contributing to the public discourse also.

    • They do however, contribute to the public landfill and since that's where conservative discourse originates they do in a sense contribute to the public discourse.

      • And so complete the circle of life.

  2. Does anyone else find it ironic that the Minister for Democratic Reform thinks our democracy should be defunded?

    • I would indeed be ironic, if he actually thought so. Good thing he doesn't.

      • Language parsing. Boring.

  3. I think the important word here is not so much "contribute", but rather "nothing". Your example might fall under the category of 'stating the obvious'.

  4. Funny – we don't have a Conservative candidate in this riding (Tim Hudak dropped into the AGM of the local Tory riding assocn – which they had to abandon because they didn't have a quorum) and – it is a blessing – we get almost no 10%percenters

    • The amount of ten-percenters I have been receiving lately is about equal to that I was receiving this time last year, which suggests to me that the Conservatives are anticipating a fall election.

  5. How much do Canada's political parties spend on Ten Percenters?

    Conservatives: $3.4-million ($23,700 per MP)
    Liberals: $1.9-million ($24,700 per MP)
    NDP: $1.4-million ($38,900 per MP)
    Bloc Québécois: $1.1-million ($22,900 per MP)

    Source: Ottawa Citizen

    • But is it not true that the "Ten Percenter" question, such as it is, turns both on spending and on content? My understanding was that, while these bits of junk mail are always disingenuous from every party, the CPC had really broken new ground in terms of converting a resource intended to help educate an MP's constituents into a cornucopia of partisan slander.

      • The CPC has certainly attracted lots of media attention for their lurid crime-related "Ten Percenters" in Quebec, but I'm not sure that the CPC is the only party who uses ten percenters for partisan purposes. In fact, I'm pretty they all do – they're allowed to, after all.

        Has there been an analysis comparing various Ten Percenters sent out by each party, so we can compare them objectively based on style, content and degree of partisanship?

    • Very nice. An easy place to save $8 million.

      Did you supply the per MP stats or the newspaper?

      • I supplied the per MP stats.

        • But is it a per-member fund? I thought it was per party, in which case you might as well divide the total spent by another random number.

          • Nope, it's per MP, not per party. Ten Percenters can only be sent by MPs to ten percent of the addresses in their riding, so it makes sense to provide stats per MP.

          • I'm not sure it makes sense. I've received 10 percenters from Conservative MPs and they are all exactly the same except for the name of the MP sending it. Although the TP is technically a mailing from an MP, it is obviously orchestrated by party central. I doubt MPs even have a say on the content. Therefore, it makes much more sense to attribute the expenses to the parties rather than MPs.

          • Well, it wasn't a great point….mostly I was curious why you chose to add the per MP info rather than just stick with the party totals.

            The idea of having a per MP allowance is OK with me (although I would be even happier to get rid of it completely), but I wonder if the allowance is currently being used the way it was originally intended. Wasn't the original intent to allow MPs to provide information about federal programs and initiatives, concentrating on how they specifically relate to the riding? I believe in the old days that they were actually crafted by the MP. The current usage strongly resembles a political message from a national party, so it doesn't live up to either of those criteria.

            In general I believe that we would be better off if MPs made a cleaner distinction between their role as an MP and their role as a party member.

          • Well, not as I understood it. My understanding was, each MP gets to send his newsletter to his constituents. A 10-percenter was supposed to be that he could overprint by 10%, then send them to neighbouring (or other) ridings where the MP is of another party. The things that pass for 10 percenters these days bears no relation to things sent out to one's own constituents–do they?

          • Ah, thanks, that's interesting, Jenn! I hadn't grasped that 10% overprinting thing. A strange practice!

          • From the linked article:

            The House of Commons provides printing services to MPs, which cost taxpayers a total of $9.4-million last year. Under the program, MPs can send out brochures called Householders four times a year into their ridings to inform constituents about what they're doing in Ottawa, and what's going on in the community. But they can also send out Ten Percenter flyers to households across the country up to 10 per cent of their voters.

        • Aha!

          Here are the 'torqued' numbers on a per vote in 2008 election basis.

          Conservatives: $3.4-million 65 cents
          Liberals: $1.9-million 53 cents
          NDP: $1.4-million 56 cents
          Bloc Québécois: $1.1-million 79 cents

          • What's the point of torquing them per vote?

          • About the sames sense as you torquing them per MP.

            Hyper-rationalism gone wild. You need to back away from the database and look at the bigger picture.

            These things are junk mail and Party propaganda. That's not what the public should be paying for.

  6. I only know the ones I get from my MP, Olivia Chow, which (on the one or two occasions I did not recycle them instantly) I found to be barely distinguishable from campaign literature. I will save the next one for lab analysis.

    • Don't forget to use a "Partisanship Litmus Test Kit" in your lab analysis! I think the problem here is one of style – all parties use them to sent out partisan campaign literature, but some of the Conservative examples have been more lurid, and therefore distasteful.

    • Don't forget to use a "Partisanship Litmus Test Kit" in your lab analysis! I think the problem here is one of style – all parties use them to send out partisan campaign literature, but some of the Conservative examples have been more lurid, and therefore more distasteful.

    • Don't forget to use a "Partisanship Litmus Test Kit" in your lab analysis! I think the problem here is one of style – all parties use them to send out partisan campaign literature, but some of the Conservative examples have been more lurid, and therefore distasteful.

  7. For the record, Flaherty's quote is from the Fall economic update, which has been stricken from the record.

  8. I think I've gotten one Ten Percenter in the mail since I moved into my riding three years ago. Then again, I have the classiest MP.

      • Is there any truth to the rumour Dean Del Mastro's 10 percenters are sponsored by Del Mastro Motors?

        His Mom's company sort of giving back to the community by 1) telling the riding what a great job Dean is doing, in the hope that 2) Dean doesn't come back and work the car lot again.

        • If that really is a rumour, as opposed to something you just made up, then it's a very stupid rumour because Ten Percenters are funded by the taxpayers… so no need for sponsorship (which would be illegal anyway).

    • I receive the occasional nausea-inducing scrap from my C(L)O(W)Nservative MP but nothing from the other parties because this is a strong CON riding. So nobody else bothers. The CON 10 percenters cater to the lowest common denominator or those who just aren't paying attention or could care less. This form of political advertising is an incredible waste of resources but they do offer an opportunity for me to repeatedly tell my MP what a lousy job he is doing so I say keep them coming.

      • It seems that it is really the ridings with non-Conservative MPs that get hid the most with 10%ers. My riding is strongly NDP, and we tend to get flooded with them in pre-election periods

  9. Glen Pearson is your MP?

  10. Phil, I completely agree that Ten Percenters should be used by all parties to send useful information, rather than propaganda.

    Again, the reason I added the per MP info is because it is the MPs who are sending these things out, by definition. If every MP spent exactly the same amount on these mailouts, then we would expect the Conservatives to spend four times what the NDP spends, simply because they have four times as many MPs. Just presenting the party totals doesn't capture this important nuance.

    • Ideally, shouldn't that be ‘used by all MPs' rather than ‘used by all parties'?

      I think that we both agree that the allowance is ultimately an MP's allowance, not a party allowance.

      • Yup, I should have written "used by all MPs". Ideally, it shouldn't be party-related.

  11. The numbers bear this out. The NDP spends the most on 10%ers, on a per-MP basis.

    • Perhaps I was unclear in making my point. I get flooded with 10%ers from Conservative MPs, not from my NDP MP.

  12. Glad to see you coming around to the argument that political parties should be removed from the public teat, Aaron.

    These partisan ten percenters stink. The per vote subsidy stinks. The generous tax credits for contributions stink.

    The only ten percenter I have ever received (in my forever-Liberal riding) has been from a dipper. It was, of course, useless crap. But, then, the posturing crap from my own MP couldn't find the blue box fast enough, either.

    • You are blue-boxing them? This IMO is a sad waste. Much better to take the opportunity to whip off a witty reply and send it back to you ever-grateful MP and/or dipper, no postage required if sent to parliament hill. I regularly remind my CON MP he is a party minion and hack which I know he appreciates. I can tell by the special way he ignores me.

      • Well, ok, but those additional dead trees and the carbon footprint associated with the delivery of your little wet firecracker missive are on your conscience, friend.

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