Sunday, April 11, 2010

Conservatives to campaign on killing $30-million subsidies to political parties

This is not good:

Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives will campaign on killing the $30-million per-vote-subsidy to political parties in the next election, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed.

But University of Calgary professor and former Tory strategist Tom Flanagan, the Conservatives' former national campaign manager, says if the party successfully eliminates it, other changes need to be implemented either by raising donation limits or allowing Canadians to volunteer their tax dollars to political parties.

"It's hard to find an approach that would yield the amount of money that's equal to the subsidies unless you go back to some level of corporate donations or raising the level on individual donations. The other one is a taxpayer check-off system, which is used in the United States," said Prof. Flanagan, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's (Calgary Southwest, Alta.) former chief of staff. "But those systems aren't that productive. They do raise some money, but the best estimate is that in Canada, a taxpayer check-off system might raise, based on the American experience, $4- or $5-million, but not $30-million a year."

From the Hill Times. The proportional funding system is a reasonably fair way of ensuring that all voices get heard. Of course, the only voices the Cons want to be heard are those of folks who are sufficiently well off that they have the ability -- and desire -- to donate money to the Cons. I suspect that if this goes through, we'll see a return of corporate donations. Unfortunately, the right has been fairly successful in spinning this issue as a "vote tax" (at least in Manitoba), so this may be a good strategy for them, unless the rest of us can get our act together to present the other side.

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