To hear Stephen Harper’s take on it, the current funding for the Federal Parties is horrible, I mean your taxes are paying for the Bloc!!!
No Stephen, they are not.
I vote in every election I can. Because I voted for a candidate, that party gets $2.00. My friend votes for another party’s candidate. That party gets $2.00 for his vote. If you don’t bother to vote, you subsidise the $2.00 but that is your choice to not vote.
It’s fair and it’s even.
Now, if I can’t afford to give money to a party, my taxes subsidise the tax refund given to those who can afford to give. That’s hardly fair is it?
The government refunds 75% of the first $400.00 “donated” to a party, 50% of the next $350.00 and 33.33% on the rest up to $1250.00 I believe. That means that if someone gives $1000.00 to a party they get back $558.32.
Let’s say I don’t have the money to donate to a party, is it fair that my taxes subsidise the people who can afford to give to a party?
In 2007, according to Elections Canada, the conservatives raised $16,990,766.00 of the total $26,923,135.00 raised by all the parties. That’s 63.1%, very good, well done. Now I don’t know how many of these donations were over $400.00 so I don’t know how much was refunded at tax time, but I do know that the majority of the refunds went to your supporters. If I can’t afford to donate, I end up subsidising a party I don’t vote for. If I choose not to donate, I still end up subsidising a party I don’t vote for.
The Liberals were in second place with $4,537,966.00 raised or 16.8%.
The NDP were in third with $3,979,737.00 raised or 14.8%.
That leaves the Green Party and the Bloc with $984,605.00 and $430,061 respectively or about 5% between them.
So what does this mean? When the tax refund overlords start to ladle out the Political Contribution Refunds, the first ladleful is shared between the Greens’ and the Bloc’s supporters with 2 drops for one and one for the other. The NDP supporters get almost 3 whole “dips”. Liberal donors get 3 and 1/3 doled into their bowls. And the conservatives get over 12 ½ ladlefuls into theirs.
It gets better.
In the 2011 election, the conservatives amassed over 5.8million votes nationwide or 39.6% of the ballots cast. The Bloc, Greens, Liberals and NDP combined took over 59% of the vote, but the tax refunds go by donation, not votes.
Here’s the good bit.
It only stands to reason that Canada’s three largest provinces pay the most in taxes, with Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia being the those three. These three provinces also put the most into the pool for the Political Contribution Refund Pot.
Of the 3,801,690 votes cast in Quebec in the May election, only 627,961 were for the conservatives. That’s 16.5%. Quebec contains over 23% of the population of Canada. The tax payers of Quebec are paying the conservative supporters’ tax refunds for their donations.
Now, Stephen says it’s not fair that you should pay for the Bloc, how fair is it that Quebec should pay for a party they rejected in Spades?
Total Votes Cast
Percentage of Total
Source: Elections Canada
So what we have is the three most populous provinces containing over 75% of the people of Canada paying 75% of the tax refunds that go to the people who support a party that drew only 35% of their votes.
We have the start of a fairer system right now. As long as you meet the minimum requirements, your party receives $2.00 per vote. I’d argue that this money is earned and the system is fair. We can adjust it to inflation so no one gets left behind.
I think if you want to contribute to the party of your choice you should but the refund rate is out of whack. When a party only gets 39.6% of the votes nationally, it cannot be considered fair that provinces that reject that party still have to pay for it. That’s Stephen’s argument.
Elections Canada data shows the average donation is only around $106.00 so any refund should be based on a lower amount. Not $1250.00, not $1000.00. I’m thinking in the area of $200.00. You can give more but the cap will still be there. $1000.00 seems like a nice number.
Now Stephen says this isn’t fair and that isn’t fair, maybe in the interest of fairness, we should consider a fundraising cap for the parties. The cap would be based on the number of constituencies that a party runs candidates in and the cost to run a political organization as well as run an election. We can even leave a bit of room for surpluses for the over achievers. I can be magnanimous too.
Any donations beyond these caps would simply be applied to the National Debt. That’s the Debt, Stephen, not the deficit. Get it? Good.
The most frustrating part of this is when I was researching this on the internet, I found that a number of countries are looking at their own political fund raising rules. They want to make their own systems more transparent and fair, and the one that they keep looking at is the one that Stephen Harper wants to throw away.
It just doesn’t seem fair.