Things have been pretty quiet on the political front lately, what with all the snow and cold and with most politicians taking a winter break somewhere warm.
But Mr. Warmth himself, Stephen Harper, sat down for an interview with whatever they call the company that owns the Journal now (Post-Southam? Post-Age? Postmedia?) where he floated the idea that it’s time to end subsidies to political parties.
Well, as you may recall, this little idea nearly scuttled his government in the past. When he made that same suggestion, the oppo parties banded together and threatened to bring down his government. That forced the first of his prorogation stalls, and his government was saved, and the country was saved from the spectacle of having Bloc Quebecois creeps in cabinet positions.
But Harper, despite his near-death experience from the last time, is at it again. He wants to end the subsidies the political parties get per vote won. We’re talking a fair amount of money here — a toonie for every vote won in the previous election, every year. The Conservatives last year got $10.4 million, the Liberals $7.3 million, the NDP $5 million, the Bloc Quebecois $2.8, and the Greens $1.9.
The Tories can afford to propose to end the subsidy because they are swimming in cash, well ahead of the other parties. The loss of $7.3 million could ruin the Liberals. Harper wants to make it an election issue, and it would probably be a good one for him.
And in a way, I agree with him. It’s clearly a politically motivated move — cripple the other guy is never a bad strategy — but in a couple of ways, he’s (shudder) correct. But he’s going at it the wrong way, all scorched earth and all. I have a couple of suggestions that some of the other parties might support.
First, how about matching, or close to matching subsidies? According to the Hill Times, in 2009 Last year, the Conservatives raised $17.7-million compared to the second place Liberals, who raised $12.58-million. The NDP raised $7.4-million while the Bloc raised $889,763.24. (Yes, 24 cents.) How about fifty cents for every dollar raised? That would give the Conservatives about $9 million, the Liberals $6, the NDP $3.5 million and the Bloc about $450,000. Everybody gets money, but only based on how much you can raise.
But an even better idea, and one I can’t believe Harper didn’t try, is to base subsidies on not just number of votes won, but on number of candidates. Frankly, it pisses me off to no end that the Bloc, a party that wants to destroy our country, gets taxpayer money to run their party. In fact, almost all of their operating money comes from federal taxpayers. So, to get the NDP and Liberals onside, make federal funding contingent not just on votes, but on a formula based on number of candidates run. Let’s say you get funding only if you have candidates in 90 per cent of Canadian ridings, or offer candidates to 90 per cent of the Canadian population. Put enough restrictions on the funding so that the Bloc will be shut out of the money unless they find a way to run candidates outside of Quebec. Right now, the Bloc just sits in its Quebec enclave, runs for election and wins easily, and reaps the rewards. Subsidies should be for NATIONAL parties only. If Harper made a proposal along those lines, the NDP and Liberals would happily support it and drop the Bloc like a hot potato, perhaps delivering a death blow to their Quebec rivals.
It’s a disgrace that we give them money to support their cause, which is the slow destruction of Canada. Harper should show some gumption and propose a law aimed directly at the Bloc, and dare the other parties to vote against it.