Subsidies to political parties must be axed
Sooner or later there will be a federal election in Canada. The time has come for Prime Minister Stephen Harper to show real leadership. It was tried once before but had to be withdrawn because of strong opposition.
The minority Conservatives must make another bold attempt to eliminate the public subsidies that Canada’s five major political parties receive. This move, if successful, will save the country $30million a year. Of course, it could also cripple some opposition parties that do not have the ability to fundraise.
Among the political parties receiving subsidies is Bloc Quebecois, a party determined to destroy united Canada. Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe recently distributed a letter to the international community, urging them to prepare for another referendum on Quebec sovereignty. He said the province is on a path that leads to the breakup of Canada. What is most shocking about this is the letter was printed on House of Commons stationary featuring Canada’s coat of arms. This letter was sent in English, French and Spanish.
I am surprised there is no nationwide outcry about Duceppe misusing his privileges as an MP. The plan was quickly abandoned when the Liberals, the New Democratic Party and Bloc Quebecois ganged together and threatened to topple the minority government.
It is widely believed the Tories will try once again to end taxpayer subsidies for political parties. This issue is still on the government’s agenda.
The Bloc holds 40 to 50 seats in the Canadian Parliament. These MPs are subsidized by Canadian taxpayers.
At present, parties 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.
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 Quebecois and $1.8 million for the Greens.
However, the Conservatives raise more money from Canadians than any other party. The Conservatives are good at fundraising. Their subsidy represents only 37 per cent of the party’s total revenues. By comparison, the subsidy amounts to 63 per cent for the Liberals, 86 per cent for the Block, 57 per cent for the NDP and 65 per cent for the Greens.
If the parties cannot raise enough money by themselves, then it should not be running. This issue was met with a near constitutional crisis in December 2008 when the government imposed this measure in an economic and fiscal update.
The time has come for political parties to raise their own money. The Liberals and the New Democratic Party have had more success in raising funds on their own. If political parties want to make an impression on Canadians, they must show they are capable of raising funds nationally. At a time of large deficits, they should not be relying on the government for subsidies. This will make political parties more accountable, more active and palatable to taxpayers. If a certain political party is not able to raise the money, then it is clear Canadians are not flocking to join that party.
Abolishing subsidies will help Canada get back on the right track to building up reserves and get rid of the deficit it built up during the recession. Why should a taxpayer in British Columbia contribute money to the Bloc, which has only one mandate in mind to break up Canada?
The Bloc only campaigns in Quebec and only elects members in that province. It is not a national party. It is time the Bloc get into the business of fundraising if it wants to maintain its base in Quebec. It does not make any sense why Canadian taxpayers should subsidize the PQ. It will not be fair to pay subsidies to other parties and exclude the Bloc. This will only give separatists in Quebec another reason to cry foul and manufacture more reasons why Quebec should separate from the rest of the country. The subsidy should be abolished for all the parties. There should be no exception to this. This idea is great and the public will rally behind it. Harper should bring back this issue.
The allowances were introduced in 2004, as part of Jean Chretien’s bill that eliminated corporate and labour contributions to parties while capping individual contributions at $5,000. This was later dropped to $1,000. I feel all the political parties should work together to get rid of the subsidies.
The most recent report from Elections Canada reveals that every major political party now has a significant individual donor base.