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They’ll get away with it. But it’s still wrong.

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This is about the Conservative Party of Canada, but it is not about the G8 spending (although they also got away with that, and that was also wrong). No, this is about phasing out the per-vote subsidy.

In 2003, the Liberal Party of Canada changed campaign finance laws to prevent unions and corporations from donating to political parties, and also capped the amount an individual could donate. To compensate the parties for that loss of income, they brought a per-vote subsidy. Every party that earns at 2% of the popular vote receives about $2 per vote earned.

The last time the Conservatives tried to get rid of this subsidy, it caused a revolt. The other parties banded together against them, formed a coalition, and tried to take over government.

This time, knowing that it’s resistance is futile against this dictatorship—sorry, majority government (hard to tell the difference)—the opposition is giving up without a fight. But opposed or not, what the Conservatives are doing is still wrong.

Official reasoning is spurious

The basic reason given for this is to save money. And sure, this will save about $24 million this year. But political parties, like anything else, take some amount of money to run, and it’s long been accepted that some of that should come from the public purse. If you’re looking to reduce in this area, why pick on this particular form of funding?

What about the fact that when you donate to a political party, you get back 75% of what you give (for the first $400). Whereas if you give to a charity like the Cancer Society, you get back only 25%. Does that seem right to you? The cost of the incredibly generous tax credit is about $21 million per year. Over four years, then? Around $80 million. And if you didn’t get rid of the credit completely, but just reduced it to the same level as what you get for donating to charities? Still about a $50 million saving.

The real reason is offensive

The Conservatives don’t need this subsidy. They apparently get so much money donated to them, they don’t what to do with it all. (In the 2004 election, they even tried laundering it through local ridings.) That’s why they run election ads all the time, not just during elections.

Other parties… Well, they do kind of rely on that funding.

So what’s this really about? Crushing their political rivals. Increasing the degree to which Canadians hear from the Conservative Party of Canada at the expense of other ideas. Trying to make their dictatorship majority permanent.

They’re also silencing voters

The Conservatives are not only hurting other parties here. They’re also getting rid of the only real way in which every federal vote (other than for very minor parties and independents) actually counts.

Because, in Canada’s ridiculous First Past the Post electoral system, most of our votes are wasted. If we had proportional representation, every vote would help form government. But under FPTP, only the votes for the winners do. All other votes have no effect on the makeup of government whatsoever. Whether your MP won by 10 votes or 100,000, he or she gets the seat and the other parties get bupkus. If you voted for anyone other than the person who won, you might as well have stayed home. The resulting seat count would have been identical, either way.

But… At least the party you voted for got funding. Your tax dollars went to them, to help them out next time. It’s not much, but it’s all we had.

Now, we have nothing. Now, most votes will be back to having absolutely no effect at all. Same as if you hadn’t voted at all.

What’s to be done?

Writing to your MP about this… would be a waste of time, I think. It’s in the budget; members of the Conservative Party have to vote for it. The opposition may or may not vote for the budget,  but whatever, it’s still going to pass.

Frankly, the only thing I can think of that would help is to take advantage of that juicy tax credit and donate to any and all federal parties—other than the Conservative Party of Canada.


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