Political subsidies don’t serve democracy

I know that everyone of you writing letters to the editor are nice people, yet this has been the most toxic election I have ever seen in this riding. I am amazed that the letters to the editor page is not scorched around the edges.

As if that is not bad enough, we face a daily barrage of attack ads from all parties who seemingly have an unlimited amount of funds to spend to tell us how bad the other guy is.

The Conservatives previously attempted to end voter subsidies and it ended in the proroguing of Parliament to give the House time to reflect. This time eliminating voter subsidies is a Conservative election plank.

According to Elections Canada, in 2009 the Greens raised $1.1 million from 9,115 contributors; the Bloc raised $621,000 from 6,052 contributors; the NDP raised $4 million from 23,704 contributors; the Liberals raised $9 million from 37,876 contributors; and the Conservatives raised $17.1 million from 101,385 contributors.

In addition, political parties are receiving $2.04 per year for each vote garnered in the previous election; paid quarterly and adjusted annually for inflation. This amounted to $27.4 million in 2010. It is easy to force an election when taxpayer subsidies are so high. Would those same parties have forced this current election for reasons that are still unclear if they had had to raise this money and fund their own election?

The breakdown on taxpayer subsidies for the year 2009 were: Conservatives: $10.35 million; Liberals: $7.2 million; NDP: $4.998 million; The Bloc: $2.7 million; the Greens: $1.8 million.

This taxpayer subsidy allows the Greens, without one seat in the House, to pay Elizabeth May an annual salary of $70,000. Where in the past political parties such as the Reform Party had to rely on party member support and donations, which entailed reaching a broad consensus amongst the electorate in order to provide monetary support for their leaders.

We already have in place subsidies to those making political donations. Donators receive a tax credit based on a sliding scale ranging from 75 per cent for the first $400 down to 33.3 per cent. This means that in 2010, $21 million of the $33 million parties and riding associations received was reimbursed to donators through the tax system. Plus when an election is called half of eligible federal party and 60 per cent of local expenses are reimbursed through Elections Canada. In an election year, tax subsidies can amount to over $100 million. This election will cost the voters $300 million in election expenses plus these political parties will have spent another $100 million.

Taxpayers similarly subsidize the Bloc, which is interested only in Quebec, is always absent in the House for the singing of O Canada, and whose main aim is the breakup of the country.

It is time voter subsidies of political parties ended.

Elvena Slump

 

Penticton