A lot has been said in the past 24 hours about the economic update proposal to cancel the public funding of political parties, so I won’t take up space repeating arguments that have already been articulated. I will, however, offer two comments:
1) I believe that Canada should strive towards political parties being funded by citizens alone. I believe that there should be a reasonable limit to contribution amounts and that both corporations and unions should not be allowed to fund our political parties (‘Joe’s Oil-Rig’ is not citizen, but a legal entity created for tax purposes, therefore it should not be in a position to fund political parties). The sustainability of modern political parties should depend on the cultivation of a large membership and individual donor base to fund itself (a major weakness of the Liberal Party of Canada).
2) It is very clear that Conservative Finance Minister Jim Flaherty‘s proposal is a purely political maneuver aimed at choking off the already cash-strapped Liberal Party (who should be taking advantage of this opportunity to rally their supporters and fundraise). At a time when Stephen Harper‘s Conservatives should be governing, they are busy playing political games with Canadians tax-dollars.
If Parliament wishes to cancel public financing of political parties, then that is the will of Parliament, but it would be much more equitable for this program to be phased it out over a four year period so that by the time the next “scheduled” election rolls around (is anyone still pretending that we have fixed election dates in Canada?), all of the parties will have completely received the round of $1.95 per-vote funding that Canadians granted them with their votes in the October 2008 Federal Election.
Canadians (myself included) may not have much sympathy for political parties, but Flaherty’s move smacks of the worst kind of partisanship that drives so many Canadian citizens away from political involvement.
UPDATE: November 28, 2008 10:02 am– Conservatives won’t include party funding cuts in economic update, Jean Chretien & Ed Broadbent broker possible coalition talks, and je ne comprends pas anglais.
UPDATE: November 28, 2008 12:13 pm – What’s going on? Cuts to Party Subsidies will Stay: Flaherty