What does this mean? - Macleans.ca

What does this mean?

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“This means war.”

Or so says Pat Martin about the government’s plan to cut the per vote taxpayer subsidy for political parties.

Key graph from CP’s report. “But proportional to revenues raised last year, the taxpayer subsidy represents 37 per cent of the totals raised by the Tories. That’s far less than the 63 per cent chop for Liberal coffers, 86 per cent for the Bloc and 57 per cent for the NDP. The Greens stand to lose 65 per cent of total revenues.”

Here is Hansard for the afternoon of February 11, 2003, when Jean Chretien formally introduced the legislation in question (which was paired with new restrictions on political donations). The Prime Minister was followed quickly by a reply from the leader of Her Majesty’s loyal opposition.

The short version (though you’re encouraged to read the long version).

Chretien: “Some have suggested that the subsidy to a political party means that an individual’s tax dollars may go to a party that he or she disagrees with. The reality is that the $1.50 a year goes to the party that person voted for in the previous election. If someone changes his or her mind after an election, if someone realizes he or she made a mistake, for example by voting for the Canadian Alliance, the $1.50 per year still adds up to a total of $6 over the four years. That person can make up for his or her mistake. Everybody makes mistakes. It could happen to somebody who voted Liberal too, but not many because we are still doing quite well.”

Harper: “Obviously, the biggest beneficiary is the Liberals and they will benefit regardless of how people’s views of them may change in their performance as a governing party. Admittedly, the Canadian Alliance stands to benefit financially from the allowance. We will benefit especially because this party does not rely heavily on donations from corporations, unions and other large donors. However the principal beneficiary will be the Liberal Party of Canada. The Liberals could not exist without an alternative source of funding, guaranteed taxpayer funding, if corporate donations were severally limited. Whereas the Canadian Alliance has shown it can and would continue to survive.”

The legislation was passed (Yeas 172, Nays 62) after final debate on June 11 of that same year.