Apparently Harper thinks it’s time to use an economic crisis for partisan gain! People are suffering all over the country and this is Harper solution? Absolutely shameful.
So it will be delays on fiscal stimulus to actually help the people hurting most, but moving right away to gut the opposition’s primary means of financing! The magic solution for the deficit from the biggest spending (while delivering the least results) government in Canadian history!
As Impolitical notes all this talk about “belt tightening” is straight out of the John McCain playbook: trying to make a cause célèbre of tackling supposed pork barrel spending that, in reality, amounts to an extremely tiny fraction of the federal budget. Yes there is room to cut back on some parliamentary expenses, but public financing is no pork barrel project and exists for a good reason: to create a level playing field so that all voices of the political spectrum are able to be represented by political parties.
There’s only one party on the right that gives the Conservatives an inherent fundraising advantage already that they’ve exploited to no end. But I’m sure Conservatives relish nothing more than to have a Canada with no one opposing the Conservatives. And let there be no doubt about their motives here. As Stephen Taylor, the top Conservative blogger, notes, “in this, the Conservatives aim to level a strategic blow to the Liberals as Conservative fundraising efforts”. So this is the new co-operative spirit Harper pledged to bring in? This is what Harper thinks Canadians are looking for in tough times?
Public financing brings far more benefits to the health of our democracy than what it costs. In the end the amount each party receives is ultimately earned by the amount of support each party gets in an election, so it’s not just free government handouts either. The federal treasury would be saved an insignificant amount and the health of our democracy would suffer far more if the per vote subsidy were removed. This is not a price worth paying, nor does it get us anywhere near getting the country's finances back in order.
For those that say “well Liberals will just need to do a better job appealing to Canadians in order to earn their money”, well I’d agree Liberals do need to do a better job at that, but there currently exists a dramatically unlevel playing field and if this were really about just “belt tightening” for the sake of helping the economy and not a means to crush the opposition why not, as a fellow Liberal blogger suggested, remove donation limits at the same time then?
Donation limits don’t impact the federal treasury so Conservatives should have no problems making it easier for parties to fundraise from private citizens if they think public funds shouldn’t be used to subsidized parties at all.
We will see how this plays out, but I'm hoping Liberals, and indeed all opposition parties, stand absolutely firm and call Harper on this for what this is: pathetic partisan gamesmanship when Canadians deserve, and expect, A LOT better!
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