Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Canadians: Say "NO" to elimination of public subsidy of political parties.

So Harper has promised, and will undoubtedly deliver, to eliminate the subsidy of political parties in the budget to be presented to Parliament early next month. There is currently a $2 public contribution to every political party, based on the number of votes each party received in the last election. If a party received 1000 votes, it would receive $2000 from the public purse, to assist in its operations. Of course, if it received 1 million votes, it would also receive $2million from taxpayers. Linked to this public subsidy is a limit of $1200 per person to any political party, in the avowed hope that some control might result in the pressures brought to bear on political parties from specific interest groups.
While there has always been an argument against subsidizing a political party whose existence is to break up the country (The Bloc from Quebec) nevertheless, the principle of one vote=$2 for every political party is one rather modest way to level the playing field between the political parties.
However, we all know that the occupant of the Prime Minister's office has one overriding political ambition: to destroy the Liberal Party of Canada, and to eliminate this subsidy, at this time, when the Liberals have been reduced to a mere 34 seats in a House of Commons with 308 seats, means that the party will no longer hold the title "Official Opposition" which carries research money, as well as different meeting space and different office locations, all of which have now been transferred to the New Democrats.
We also know that the Conservatives have the most successful fundraising operation of all national political parties, using even some Senators as unofficial "bag-man" in their pursuit of their long-held dream of becoming the "natural governing party of Canada" a term historically associated with the Liberals, until the Sponsorship Scandal and the demise of two leaders, Dion and Ignatieff, in separate federal elections.
Canadians, both individually and collectively through their Member of Parliament, have the opportunity to speak out against the elimination of the public subsidy. At the same time, they might consider requesting a lowered amount from $1200, to be more representative of the ability of the ordinary Canadian to make any contribution to the political party of their choice, perhaps a figure like $500 would be more appropriate.
The recent decision of the Supreme Court in the U.S. to remove caps on political contributions from all sources is a pathway to the demise of democracy, and it is being conducted under the rubric of "freedom of speech" which really means the "freedom of the rich to speak with their cheque-books" for the kind of government they choose to purchase.
This direction, even in a minor degree, is not one to which Canadians are prepared to subscribe.
Find your Member of Parliament's address co-ordinates, and send your messages of opposition....if we create an avalanche of e-mail and text messages, there might be some hope of public resistance impacting the steam-roller that is the Prime Minister on this stripping of democracy of the gasoline that helps the engine run.

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