Per Vote Public Financing

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Malcolm Malcolm's picture
Per Vote Public Financing

Continuation of this thread.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

In answer to Sean's question at the end of the previous thread, I'm not actually opposed to the per vote party grants per se.  I think they are far less important than other aspects of the reforms, especially the elimination of non-citizen donations (corporate, union and offshore) and the maximum limits.  They are also less important than the tax credit.  The principles of election finance reform do not depend on per vote grants.  Further, per vote grants gave the greatest advantage to the party that probably needs it least and penalizes new parties.

My proposal is purely tactical.  Since I am (overall) agnostic on the grants, I'm quite prepared to see them go as part of a package that does something far more useful - lower the donation maximum to level the playing fireld even more.  The fact that it significantly harms every other party more than us is merely an appealing bonus.  (The Cons actually lose the most money, the Liberals are nowhere near effectively addressing their fundraising problems.  The Greens and the Bloc depend on the grants for the lion's share of their operations.)

To sacrifice the tax credit in favour of the per party grants is beyond daft though.

Sean in Ottawa

Actually Malcom it hurts the Cons the least for four reasons:

1) while the Cons get the most money from this source it is the lowest percentage of their financing

2) It hurts most of the Cons opponents more than them-- including the NDP since all depend more on the funding than the Cons do. That it hurts the Liberals the most is a reflection of their current inability to fund-raise but that is not always so. The better the NDP do at the polls the more this would hurt them in the future (getting rid of the public finance).

3) The Cons can and will increase the limits of the tax credit not reduce them and as long as it is there they can do so. They have already expressed this intention.

4) The tax credit limits are not all they are cracked up to be as a person can donate to a variety of candidates as well as the party and while each has a limit they can donate a huge amount already-- even before the Cons increase that limit.

5) The Cons also get much larger donations which are legal even though they are past the maximum that you can get credits for. People confuse the maximum that you can get a credit for with the maximum influence you can buy.

As well, I really like the public finance on principle-- the equality, the investment in democracy and the incentive to vote. Unless you are trying to have an uneven playing field what's not to like?

 

Fidel

It deserves mention that voting stratigically for the unofficial pro Harper support party feigning official opposition status in Ottawa would have the effect of handing more per-vote funding to a party that has done nothing but support Stephen Harper's plan for pauperizing Canada and handing even more of it to corporate America and the fossil fuel industry.

And, why have so many Liberal MPs voted with the Harpers in Parliamemt over the last several years if they aren't receiving anything for their tacit support and approval of the reformaTory political and economic agenda? Are Liberal MPs earning a bit on the side for collaborating with the very pro big business, anti-Canadian and pro USA Harpers? Or what's the deal? There is a reason why Canada is "a corrupt petro state", and it has a lot to do with the democracy gap that is now a canyon in this country.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

1. More money for parties that are already more successful hardly "levels" the playing field, but generally exacerbates existing inequities.

2. You say it hurts the Cons less because the grant is a smaller percentage of their funding.  I say it hurts them more because it is a larger amount.  It's a matter of pespective.  It isn't that one is true and the other false.

3. You seem to have missed the salient point that I am proposing FURTHER REDUCTIONS in the donation maximums.  I rather like an aggregate maximum of $500 donated to federal parties and a similar aggregate maximum for candidates and riding associations.  No person would be allowed to donate more than $1000 to participants in the electoral process.

4. If Harper increases the limits or overthrows the reforms entirely, then we are no longer talking about the position I'm advocating, are we?

5. Instead of relying on a publioc grant which will ALWAYS be vulnerable to populist attack, I'd prefer we get off our collective asses and improve our small donor fundraising.  Frankly, with what I've proposed, there is no reason that we cannot be raising nearly as much money as the Conservatives on an annual basis.  You seem committed to creating dependence on an inevitably vulnerable (and frankly politically toxic) source of revenue.

6. Do you get that the tax credit actually benefits donors of moderate income MORE than wealthy donors?  The Irvings and the Westons and the Pattisons will always be able to afford to donate whatever the maximum is.  The tax credit allows the person of modest means to donate as much as four times what they would otherwise be able to do.  The tax credit has ALWAYS been a bigger benefit to the NDP than to the two old line parties.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcom

1) it supports who people vote for and changes with every time people vote. It allocates money based on support. It also exists alongside the private donation credit so new parties coming up between elections are not shut out either. By dividing the finance between these two sources we have a fair compromise. If we completely draw all funding from those who have money to donate we reduce who can participate. Maybe you just don't know any poor people or can't imagine that there are actually people out there unable to make political donations but let me be the first to let you know such people exist. I have been one myself.

2) the Cons have way more money than they need and that is why they can afford to give this up-- they rely on it less-- I am sorry but if you think about it it is pretty clear-- and there is widespread agreement about this from all parties that this hurts the Cons the lease

3) Your point as not missed but it is not relevant because no matter how much you might want it it is not on offer and can be reversed easily even if it were. You missed the salient point that I have already addressed this before saying that changing the maximum amounts is barely news but it is a big deal to change a whole system of financing.

4) We never were talking about the position you were advocating we were talking about the positions the parties are proposing. But as I say the position you are advocating is not a good one because it is too easy to reverse. So they get rid of the fair finance with your approval and then give you the low limit then they reverse and increase the limit and then we have the worst of all worlds

5 No I suggest we get off our asses and prove that there are public goods and democracy is one of them -- easily worth investing in.It is not politically toxic unless you accept Con propaganda without question and if you are there why don't we just claim public education and medicare are also toxic and do away with them?

6 No I don't because it is not true. More propaganda. And you need to support what you are saying here because there is no evidence for that at all-- the NDP only recently is able to raise an amount in the ballpark of other parties. People of modest means can donate with their vote now when they may have no cash to donate. Perhaps you and I have different idea of modest. I would like the people you must think are too modest to be modest-- the people without money to donate to be able to participate.

Where it gets really interesting how you are scrambling your logic is this-- the Cons get far and away the most in donations, the Liberals are second and the NDP is third. The NDP brings in a lot less money even though it has been catching up. Because it has a lot less money then it needs what it gets more. There are a lot of fixed costs in politics so the difference between a base amount and a chink more is huge because that goes to campaigning. The NDP have traditionally had fewer seats and therefore the public financing is a lower amount but it is still significant.

You are completely missing the point that nobody is talking about reducing the amount of money available to political parties except you. That is not on offer. The alternative is to keep the public finance (per vote) or get rid of it and increase the maximums to allow those with money to buy more influence. No matter how you slice it that is the only option available -- nobody -- let me say this again -- nobody is advocating the elimination of the per vote funding AND the reduction of the tax credit and that will never happen. So please make your choice among the available options. The reason in part is almost everyone (except you) that wants to reduce vote-buying is in favour of keeping the per vote financing and almost everyone that wants to eliminate the per vote subsidy is wanting to do so to extend the influence buying by allowing parties to get more private money.

The reason is that those who believe in public goods do not mind the tiny amount of financing they get for votes cast and those who do not believe in public goods tend to want to give Canada to the rich to play with.

Your logic is twisted and you are on your own-- even if you won't accept the problems with your logic can you at least accept where everyone else has drawn the line and get behind one of the only two options that have any chance of prevailing?

Sean in Ottawa
ygtbk

I think it would be unwise to set up a system where politicians can get all the money they need to run a campaign without having to actually engage any one voter enough to get them to contribute. Politicians are already in a bubble - why make it worse. I favour discontinuing the per-vote subsidy, and I think the tax benefit for contributing to a political party should be no more than that of contributing to a real actual charity.

Fidel

And I would think that any country run by dollars goes against the grain of democracy. In Canada and the US, it's called dollar democracy and even plutocracy. Money should be removed from politics altogether as Dwatch.ca people have insisted is necessary for true democracy. We don't allow sports teams to pay off the refs, so why should it be allowed in politics?

And I think that third parties relying only on small donations from individual Canadians would spell disaster for the effective opposition party in Ottawa. We have great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few billionaires in Canada. Corporate profits in Canada are unprecedented today, and ordinary Canadians haven't had real wage increases since 1980 according to CCPA economists. And since personal savings rates in Canada are abysmal next to negative, that means less money available to spend on everything from rising heat and light bills to Main Street increasingly unable to afford to donate to political parties representing working class Canadians, the environment, social responsibilities etc.

It's fine to talk about tax credits, but if one does not have the money to spend in order to receive a tax credit, then the tax credit suddenly doesn't amount to much for too many Canadians.

Add to those realities about who has the dollars in Canada the fact that money creation and credit are fully privatized in Canada since 1991. The banks not only have a lot of money now as a result, they create the money! Canada's big six banking monopoly have essentially financed about two-thirds of foreign takeovers of Canada's economy since 1985 and mainly US takeovers. And they've used Canadians' savings to help rich Americans takeover the commanding heights of Canadian economy. Much more of that and we'll be renters in our own land. Even Canadian pension funds are invested mainly in America. We've been financing our own demise as a country.

They have effectively purged interest in democracy across Canada. Somewhere around 2 percent of Canadians hold membership in any political party. Increasingly the feds in Ottawa are creating dollar democracy in Canada, and there is one particular income group who benefit the most from being able to buy governments, and, later, benefit by having large sums of money to further influence their hirelings in government.

JKR

Sean in Ottawa wrote:

The alternative is to keep the public finance (per vote) or get rid of it and increase the maximums to allow those with money to buy more influence.

Sean, post #5 had many excellent points.

If one prizes fairness and societal equity, the way to go is to raise the per vote funding and reduce the tax credit limits. As you said in post #5, both sysems should be kept in order to allow new entries into the political process.

I would say that the per vote funding should be increased to $5 per vote per year and the tax credit limit should be cut in half to $500 per year.

ygtbk

Fidel wrote:

And I would think that any country run by dollars goes against the grain of democracy. In Canada and the US, it's called dollar democracy and even plutocracy. Money should be removed from politics altogether as Dwatch.ca people have insisted is necessary for true democracy. We don't allow sports teams to pay off the refs, so why should it be allowed in politics?

And I think that third parties relying only on small donations from individual Canadians would spell disaster for the effective opposition party in Ottawa. We have great concentration of wealth in the hands of a few billionaires in Canada. Corporate profits in Canada are unprecedented today, and ordinary Canadians haven't had real wage increases since 1980 according to CCPA economists. And since personal savings rates in Canada are abysmal next to negative, that means less money available to spend on everything from rising heat and light bills to Main Street increasingly unable to afford to donate to political parties representing working class Canadians, the environment, social responsibilities etc.

It's fine to talk about tax credits, but if one does not have the money to spend in order to receive a tax credit, then the tax credit suddenly doesn't amount to much for too many Canadians.

Add to those realities about who has the dollars in Canada the fact that money creation and credit are fully privatized in Canada since 1991. The banks not only have a lot of money now as a result, they create the money! Canada's big six banking monopoly have essentially financed about two-thirds of foreign takeovers of Canada's economy since 1985 and mainly US takeovers. And they've used Canadians' savings to help rich Americans takeover the commanding heights of Canadian economy. Much more of that and we'll be renters in our own land. Even Canadian pension funds are invested mainly in America. We've been financing our own demise as a country.

They have effectively purged interest in democracy across Canada. Somewhere around 2 percent of Canadians hold membership in any political party. Increasingly the feds in Ottawa are creating dollar democracy in Canada, and there is one particular income group who benefit the most from being able to buy governments, and, later, benefit by having large sums of money to further influence their hirelings in government.

What does any of this have to do with the current situation for federal political contributions in Canada?

a) Corporate and union contributions are forbidden.

b) Individual contributions are capped at $1100 per year.

Not much scope for billionaires.

Fidel

ygtbk wrote:
Not much scope for billionaires

What about [url=http://www.dwatch.ca/camp/RelsDec0910.html]secret donations[/url] to Bay Street's hirelings posing as two separate political parties in Ottawa? Because I don't think we have to worry about billionaires sliding money the NDP's way. Fat chance.

dwatch.ca wrote:
As well, because of loopholes the federal Conservatives’ so-called “Accountability Act” left open, and because of loopholes in provincial, territorial and municipal laws, it is currently effectively legal:

• to make a secret, unlimited donation or loan of money, property to a nomination race or party leadership candidate (and, in most jurisdictions, to an election candidate) who is not a sitting politician (as long as they don’t use the donation for their campaign);
• to make a secret donation of services to a political campaign (because of lack of requirements to disclose who is providing services to campaigns);
• for political parties and riding associations to have secret trust funds (some governments even allow such trust funds to benefit sitting politicians);
• for politicians, their staff and government officials to accept valuable gifts (because they only have to disclose property they own worth more than $10,000), and;
• for an in-house corporate lobbyist to lobby in secret (usually as long as they lobby only 20% of their work time on average).

It's about the democracy gap that is now a canyon. It's about the corruption of government, and FPTP electoral fraud. And it's about the overall lack of accountability and transparency in federal government in general.

[url=Conservative">http://www.ndp.ca/press/conservative-political-fundraising-calls-on-reme... Party phone calls on Remembrance Day disgusting[/url]

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Sean, your logic is utterly scrambled.

There is no principle involved in the per vote grant.  None.  None at all.  We can do public financing any number of ways.  We could give parties grants based on the size of membership, based on some form of registration, based on the number of candidates they run.  There is nothing sacred about the per vote grant no matter how devoutly you believe there is.

The principle is the removal of big money and corporate financing from the political process.  That's the principle and the only principle involved.

You present a false dichotomy.  Eliminating the per vote grant does NOT have to mean increasing the donation limits.  That may be what the Conservatives would like to do (although it was actually the Conservatives who reduced the maximums from the princely sums in the Chretien reforms).  There are more than two alternatives so take of your Manichaean blinkers.

The public grant will always be vulnerable to polulist attack.  You may be able to shore it up, but you will never be able to eliminate the vulnerability.

Yes, the Liberals do get more grant.  The Liberals also have a far more cumbersome and costly party infrastructure to support.  (Partly this is because the unitarian structure of NDP membership.  Partly because, for decades, they had more money and had cut their cloth accordingly.)  The NDP is thriving financially because (even without the per vote grant) we have more money than we've ever had before, while the Liberals, even with the per voter grant, have less than they had before.

Yes, some people are too poor to donate - and you can put your self-righteousness back in your pocket because I have also been one of them.  That is completely irrelevant to the tax credit issue.  WHATEVER the maximums may be, the wealthy will ALWAYS be able to donate the maximums regardless of whether they get a tax credit or not.  For all but the very wealthy and the very poor, the tax credit allows people to donate up to four times what they would have received otherwise.  That is why the NDP fought for the creation of the tax credit during the Trudeau minority.  You can write off our party's legacy if you want.  I still find it useful.

You clearly have no clue about the tax credit.

Fidel

So are you shining us on that because of tax credits we've avoided plutocratic rule? Pull the other one.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

No, I'm merely pointing out that the tax credit saw a significant increase in donations to the New Democratic Party when it was introduced, and saw a significant increase in small donor contributions across the political system.  Combined with restrictions on maximum donations, it constitutes a significant shift in power away from the very wealthy.  It ain't perfect, but the idea that it helps the wealthy more than the poor (as Sean has argued) it twaddle from start to finish.

Fidel

Malcolm wrote:
Combined with restrictions on maximum donations, it constitutes a significant shift in power away from the very wealthy.

Okay there are restrictions on max donations. But what if some rich people make a lot of smaller donations of maximum amounts through various family members and other conduits to the party that treats them well? IOWs, they simply write more cheques for smaller amounts. Easy peasy, no?

Union donations are now illegal, we know that they've cut off union funding of third parties and effective opposition parties. But who's checking the fat-cats and their donations to the blue machine? Who's enforcing the rules? Democracy Watch says there are loopholes large enough to drive trucks filled with money through.

ottawaobserver

I hate it when my friends fight, so Malcolm and Sean please be nicer to each other when you're exploring your points of disagreement.

If we want to get bogged down during a campaign arguing on our opponents' ground, by all means we should keep up this debate. But we all know that the reason the Conservatives will raise the issue is to hijack the debate about anything else substantive with this appeal to anti-elitist populist demagoguery.

Our party is about to spend upwards of $18 million dollars on a five-week cross-country national election campaign. I for one would rather see them spend that time and money being able to advance issues we all care about, and which advance the public interest in our country. No distractions, please; no candidate eruptions; no gullibly being taken in by the Conservative spin machine, either.

Let's run the very best campaign we're capable of, and see how far we can take things!

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Yes, Fidel, loopholes should be closed.  Absolutely.

Close the loopholes: don't destroy the tool which has led to increased financial participation by small donors.

Do you get rid of your car the first time a spark plug fails?

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

It should also be noted that there is some political risk in the second hand cheque cheat you noted.  You will recall that Joe Volpe was roundly condemned and embarrassed during his quixotic leadership bid when it was revealed that he had accepted $5400 each (the then maximum) from two 11-year-olds and a 14-year-old.

Fidel

I also read where John Baird has organized a $500 dollar a plate dinner for friends of the Conservative government. Apparently only people who can afford the cover charge will be able to hobnob with government members. I wonder what's discussed at those kinds of things besides food and the weather.

JKR

Malcolm wrote:
The principle is the removal of big money and corporate financing from the political process.  That's the principle and the only principle involved.

Another principle is to include people with modest and lower incomes into the political process. The per vote grant allows for that.

A third principle is that parties should not have to horsetrade/be bribed for every dollar they require. The per vote grant reduces the financial corruption of the political system.

 

Malcolm wrote:

It should also be noted that there is some political risk in the second hand cheque cheat you noted.  You will recall that Joe Volpe was roundly condemned and embarrassed during his quixotic leadership bid when it was revealed that he had accepted $5400 each (the then maximum) from two 11-year-olds and a 14-year-old.

If they had been over 17 years old, there would have been no controversy. The lesson here is that if you underhandedly want to multiply your political contributions make sure you only use family and friends over 17. Presumably some donors have figured this out and are making multiple donations through amicable family and friends. Many people would be happy to make a donation/bribe to a political pary using money from a rich uncle. This is especially true if this fully subsidized donation/bribe ends up increasing your after tax income by a few hundred dollars.

JKR

++

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

So, you're advocating the elimination of donations entirely?  Curious, but far more coherent than disjointed ravings about the tax credit.

None of you has presented a single coherent argument to abolish the political donation tax credit, and no credible argument that it benefits the rich disproportionally.  The rich will give what they are able to give regardless.  The tax credit effectively quadruples what modest donors can give.  None of you are even prepared to acknowledge that incontrovertable fact.  Instead, you hand up a bunch of suppositions about unreported abuses - logically no different than Stockwell Day's fantasies about unreported crime.

JKR, the per vote grant does exactly nothing to enhance modest and low income voters participation in the process.  They vote or they don't vote.  The fact that the government then cuts a cheque hardly constitutes participation by them.

I really could care less about the grant - other than acknowledging (which none of you seem capable of doing) that it will always be vulnerable to a populist attack from the right.  I'd sooner build on a firmer financial foundation - effective maximums (yes, by all means, lets address loopholes too) accompanied by a tax instrument that has successfully broadened small donor participation in the process over the past four decades since it was implemented at the insistence of the NDP.

Fidel, there will always be fundraising events.  My understanding of the rules is that (most of) the $500 cost of this even will now count against that individuals donor maximum.

And let's just leave aside for now the fact that grants based on previous election results are inherently unfair to new parties.  In principal, this is an enormous problem with the grants - though in practice its mostly a non-issue.

 

Here's the thing - the Tories want this to be "per voter subsidies: yes or no?"  You have all decided that you will engage on the ground the Tories have chosen.  I'm proposing that we NOT engage on the ground the Tories have chosen.  You may be surprised to learn that the Tories do polling, and I'm quite certain they've chosen the ground they believe will be most fertile for them.  I think that's a very good reason to change the terms of the debate.

Fidel

Malcolm wrote:
The tax credit effectively quadruples what modest donors can give. None of you are even prepared to acknowledge that incontrovertable fact.

So how many donors of modest means actually take advantage of the tax credit? Apparently tax credits are not enough incentive to increase voter turnouts in Canadian elections. I think some of the most significant recommendations made by various commissions, like the Lortie Commission, was for parliament to adopt proportional representation in elections. Our democratically minded governments ignored that one entirely. Apparently for the two oldest political parties, equality and fairness in Canadian elections should be limited to jigging a few election campaign finance rules in favor of individuals with money and those who represent their interests in the halls of power.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

ygtbk wrote:

I favour discontinuing the per-vote subsidy, and I think the tax benefit for contributing to a political party should be no more than that of contributing to a real actual charity.

Given that babble is a place for progressive discourse, I think such statements require an explanation. Otherwise they appear to be a giant troll turd smeared upon the wall.

ygtbk

Lard Tunderin Jeezus wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

I favour discontinuing the per-vote subsidy, and I think the tax benefit for contributing to a political party should be no more than that of contributing to a real actual charity.

Given that babble is a place for progressive discourse, I think such statements require an explanation. Otherwise they appear to be a giant troll turd smeared upon the wall.

Ouch, that was pretty rude! I'm not sure that you're entitled to an explanation, but I did suggest that making political party financing less dependent on contributions could weaken the incentives of politicians to pay any attention to what their constituents want.

Can you give me a principled reason why political party contributions should get better tax treatment than charitable contributions? And can you explain to me why a party that can't get its own supporters to pony up $2 / year should get the money from general revenues? Those are, in my mind, questions worth thinking about.

takeitslowly

 

Everyone is entitled to vote, not every can donate to charities. Voting is a big part of our democracy and it is about being a citizen, not about being chartiable.

For many people, there is really not much reason to vote if there is no public financing assigned to each vote given our First Past the Post electoral system.

 

The electoral system currently in place is in favor of the two major parties, I believe public financing is a partial remedy of the inherent unfairness of our system.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

The question of public financing and the question of voter participation, while both signiificant and important, are separate issues.  There is little evidence that the per vote grant has any meaningful effect on voter turnout.  (Indeed, since it was introduced, I believe voter turnout has significantly declined, though I doubt that per voter grants had anything to do with it.)  I could see that an New Democrat in Halton or a Liberal in Yorkton or a Conservative in Spadina might decide to go vote so that his party could get a grant of less than $2 per year until the next election, but I can't see it's much of a motivation.

Likewise, electoral reform is a related but separate question.  Reform of electoral financing is at least as important (and some might even argue more important) than replacing FPTP.

The argument here has mostly been about the method of public financing.  We currently have three streams:

  • the per vote grant to parties based on the votes received in the last election;
  • the tac credit offered on political donations to registered parties, constituency associations and candidates;
  • the rebate on election expenses to constituencies and parties that received more than the threshold percentage of the vote.

In addition, we have:

  • limitations on election spending during the writ period;
  • regulations on who may donate to candidates and political parties (no offshore donations, donations only by individuals);
  • maximum amounts which individuals may donate.

In aggregate, the effect of the reforms has been to minimize "big money" and to equalize the individual capacity to participate.  It isn't a perfectly level playing field, but it is a significant improvement over what went before.

The discussion here is focussed on two points.  1) Is the per voter grant an essential part of the piece and 2) is the per voter grant or the tax credit the more effective and more important part of the piece.

So far, the criticism of the tax credit system suggests to me that the critics really don't understand how it works - particularly taking into consideration the effects of the recent reforms.  Let me put it this way - take away the tax credit, a wealthy individual would still be able to afford to make the maximum donation, while the vast majority of ordinary Canadians would not.  The tax credit (especially combined with donation maximums) dramatically evens the field.

By contrast, the per vote grant generally exacerbates the unevenness of the field.  It gives the largest grant to the party which, in almost all cases, is already the strongest financially.

Frankly, I don't care about the per voter grant per se, but I suggest that screaching about it as though it is the single most important thing that has happened in electoral reform since the introduction of the universal franchise and the secret ballot simply plays into the hands of the Conservatives.  I have proposed as an alternative that the NDP should indicate that it is prepared to agree to the phasing out of the per vote grant in exchange for other reforms such as further reductions in the donation maximum.  If the Conservatives are actually planning to do away with the other financing reforms, then they won't agree to it, and their duplicity is exposed.

But apparently some people would prefer to conduct the debate on Stephen Harper's terms.  Good luck with that.

takeitslowly

 

I thought we already have tax credits for campaign donation.  Tax credit is something the conservative government loves to do, its their solution for everything, I am not sure substituting per vote public financing for tax credit is not conceding to Stephen Harper.

 I am strongly opposed to the idea of accepting the harper philosophy that tax credits should be the only tool a government can use to facilitate democracy.

And if you want to attract people with low income and do not pay income taxes, the best way is through the system in place, because it doesn't require any taxable income to receive the monetary benefit of voting.

 

I personally do not want to live in a country where the word citizen is replaced with taxpayer and citizens are treated like customers.

wage zombie

ygtbk wrote:

And can you explain to me why a party that can't get its own supporters to pony up $2 / year should get the money from general revenues?

Because it's not an equal playing field.

KenS

Here is what I think is both a realpolitick consideration, and a fairness question.

While of course there are other streams into why we got the reforms of 2004, we have them because Jean Chretien was convinced we should have them.

Even as they were originally conceived, they disadvantaged the Liberal Party. A lot is made of Chretien wanting to get the Martinites. I think too much is made of that. I think Chretien's calculation was simpler. This was a good thing, and in his stubborn way: it was better for all of us, and the Liberal Party would adapt. Debate within LPC over.

The tradeoff, particularly for the LPC, is that it would give up the corporate donations on which it depended and had a HUGE advantage in. It could not be expected to go cold turkey, and reasonably and realisticaly not expected to totally gore its own ox. So in partial return for giving up corporate donations, would have at least some public financing. [Ditto for the NDP in relation to union donations, although at a much lower proportion of the party's financing as compared to the Liberals and their corporate donations.]

So the Liberals voluntarily gave up, when they had a majority and did not have to, their big advantage. And that was with the maximum donation level of $5,500.

Three years later, with the Conservatives governing, and the Liberals just barely starting to digest this new regime they launched, Harper lowered the maximum donation to $1,100. There are good public policy arguments for that, and the NDP agreed. So we end up with good public policy, but also two parties making the Liberals pay the price.

As far as I am concerned- enough is enough. I dont care what kind of arguments you give for letting the public subsidies go, there was a tradeoff made, and it should be honoured. Not to mention that the Conservatives intent in ending it goes beyond hardball. Dont go there with them.

Defending the subsidies on the public stage can be done relatively quietly, as I think the NDP is. And its just too much inside baseball stuff for the Conservatives to turn it into a populist wedge with significant traction outside its core.

So I'll agree that advicating the subsidy is a great and wonderful thing is not really on. But thats philosophy, and public policy in an ideal world. Conversely, its not as if making any kind of defense of the subsidies significantly exposes the NDP to attack.

The argument that the tax credits are public subsidies too and those are fine with the Conservatives... thats all well and good for saying to a few political junkies that pay enough attention to follow that and care. So its of very limited use. So ther is no reason to take it so seriously- as if people saying that means they are advocating the end of the tax credits.

Some people are saying that: making the explicit purist argument that having financing subsidies only would be the most democratic thing. I dont agree, but arguing with that is pointless: it is NOT something that is going to come to the plate... or frankly, which more than a minority part of the NDP is ever going to prefer.

But the main point is that people pointing out the hypocricy of the Conservative love of the tax credit, does not mean in itself that you are advocationg or implying the tax credits should be ended.

================================================================== 

Just criticise the Conservatives and their hypocricy. That is all that the NDP is doing. And why not leave it at that, eh?

KenS

Effectively countering the Cons on the actual public stage is not rocket science. For example:

Brian Topp wrote:

Mr. Hyde Harper is back on his dime of wanting to bankrupt the opposition parties by bringing big money back into politics on terms that will only work for his party.

 

JKR

Malcolm wrote:
None of you has presented a single coherent argument to abolish the political donation tax credit,...

Most, if not all the people here want to keep the political donation tax credit. They also want to keep the per vote grant.

 

Malcolm wrote:
By contrast, the per vote grant generally exacerbates the unevenness of the field.  It gives the largest grant to the party which, in almost all cases, is already the strongest financially.

Frankly, I don't care about the per voter grant per se,....

It seems to me you do care about the per vote grant and are firmly against it. The Cons are also against it. They want to get rid of it to weaken the BQ, NDP, and Liberals.

 

Malcolm wrote:
  I have proposed as an alternative that the NDP should indicate that it is prepared to agree to the phasing out of the per vote grant in exchange for other reforms such as further reductions in the donation maximum.  If the Conservatives are actually planning to do away with the other financing reforms, then they won't agree to it, and their duplicity is exposed.

But apparently some people would prefer to conduct the debate on Stephen Harper's terms.  Good luck with that.

I think this is a relatively minor issue that the voters don't care much about. The NDP shouldn't get suckered into giving the Cons a huge fundraising advantage.

Harper and the Cons like this issue because it plays to their right-wing base. They want to use it in the election to firm up their base so they have no reason to negotiate with the NDP as they want to keep it as an issue come election time. They want to keep it for the election so there's no reason for them to agree to an NDP offer to decrease the donation maximums. The Cons goal here is to cripple the opposition parties as much as they can. They are dead set against decreasing the donation maximums as that would lessen the financial advantage they hold over the other parties. If the Cons get a majority they'll get rid of the per vote grant and increase the donation maximums and do whatever else gives them as great an advantage over the other parties as possible. That's Harper's style. The NDP should not expediate the Con's process of making the political playing field more unfairly balanced.

ygtbk

KenS wrote:

Effectively countering the Cons on the actual public stage is not rocket science. For example:

Brian Topp wrote:

Mr. Hyde Harper is back on his dime of wanting to bankrupt the opposition parties by bringing big money back into politics on terms that will only work for his party.

 

Yeah, I read that earlier today. I was mystified by the "bringing big money back into politics" part - is there a specific proposal to do that? Since the NDP and the Conservatives seem to have a better handle on fundraising than the Liberals, Bloc, or Greens, I found the argument hard to follow. 

KenS

And keeping it in context- the issue doesnt make this list of course:

 

Quote:
Layton told CTV's Question Period Sunday his party is prepared for an election but he willing to make a deal with the Harper government.

"We are always trying to make things work," Layton said.

Among the NDP leader's requests: Help lowering Canadians' heating bills; the reinstatement of the cancelled ecoEnergy retrofit program and increases to the Canada Pension Plan and guaranteed income supplement payments for seniors.

"We've put those ideas forward but of course it requires a prime minister that's interested in working with other people - it's not exactly, Stephen Harper's style is it?" Layton said.

story

KenS

ygtbk wrote:

Yeah, I read that earlier today. I was mystified by the "bringing big money back into politics" part - is there a specific proposal to do that? Since the NDP and the Conservatives seem to have a better handle on fundraising than the Liberals, Bloc, or Greens, I found the argument hard to follow. 

You are making it too complicated. Not just this particular issue, in anything clearly pitched for the quick and dirty point, think first of who the intended audience is.

So its a statement in its own right first- to which you can add the rationale.... but it also may be a stand alone as it was here. The rationale/logic behind it only has to be there, it does not have to be said.

The logic being that as you get rid of the per vote subisdy, getting the big money becomes everything. Literaly speaking, thats an exageration. Because the max $1100 donation is hardly "big money" that can only be done by the very well off. Let alone that is the Liberals, not the Conservatives, who have the highest average donation size. But it gets the point across, and it is true.

Fidel

wage zombie wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

And can you explain to me why a party that can't get its own supporters to pony up $2 / year should get the money from general revenues?

Because it's not an equal playing field.

It should be a case where one Canadian equals one vote and not x number of dollars equals one vote. This tin pot is just disappointed that his party of Bay Street stooges only received 22% of the eligible vote for all that money they spent propagandizing the public.

ygtbk

KenS wrote:

The logic being that as you get rid of the per vote subisdy, getting the big money becomes everything. Literaly speaking, thats an exageration. Because the max $1100 donation is hardly "big money" that can only be done by the very well off. Let alone that is the Liberals, not the Conservatives, who have the highest average donation size. But it gets the point across, and it is true.

So Mr. Topp had a bit of a terminological inexactitude going on there?

ygtbk

Fidel wrote:

wage zombie wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

And can you explain to me why a party that can't get its own supporters to pony up $2 / year should get the money from general revenues?

Because it's not an equal playing field.

It should be a case where one Canadian equals one vote and not x number of dollars equals one vote. This tin pot is just disappointed that his party of Bay Street stooges only received 22% of the eligible vote for all that money they spent propagandizing the public.

So we level the playing field by giving more money to the Conservatives and Liberals (I believe you know them better as the Bay Street Stooges) than to the NDP? It's not obvious that that makes sense.

Krago

I support eliminating the 'per vote' subsidy, and making the first $100 of every political donation (and the first $100 of every charitable donation) to be a 100%  tax credit.

ottawaobserver

All I know is that the more we agree to debate the Conservatives on this, the less we're debating them on Afghanistan and pensions. Score one for Mr. Harper.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

JKR, there were a handful of posters actively attacking the political donation tax credit as a policy.  I agree that not every defender of the per vote subsidy is as daft as that.

I don't think the per vote grant is a particularly effective policy.  It doesn't level the playing field at all, and actually tends to the opposite.  I don't actively want it gone, but would happily bargain it away.  I think the Conservatives, if offered the chance to do away with it, would look pretty hypocritical if they refused to deal.  That hurts them.  And the fact that the Liberals, the Greens and the Bloc would be less able than the NDP to adapt to the end of it is fine by me.

I doubt the Cons would actually want to increase the donation limit - at least not anytime soon.  The Conservative fundraising advantage is primarily with relatively small donors - which is precisely the area where the Liberals have failed to adapt.  Raising the donation limit would help the Conservattives a bit, but it would be significantly more help to the Liberals.  The Cons aren't going to go there - until and unless the Liberal Party of Canada has been permanently hobbled.  I could see this becoming an issue in a decade or so, but not earlier.

Fidel

ygtbk wrote:

Fidel wrote:

wage zombie wrote:

ygtbk wrote:

And can you explain to me why a party that can't get its own supporters to pony up $2 / year should get the money from general revenues?

Because it's not an equal playing field.

It should be a case where one Canadian equals one vote and not x number of dollars equals one vote. This tin pot is just disappointed that his party of Bay Street stooges only received 22% of the eligible vote for all that money they spent propagandizing the public.

So we level the playing field by giving more money to the Conservatives and Liberals (I believe you know them better as the Bay Street Stooges) than to the NDP? It's not obvious that that makes sense.

The playing field is not level no matter how the dollars for democracy game for rich people is played.

There is one sure way to have one Canadian equal to one vote, and it's all there in the Lortie Commission recommendations for election financing in Canada. Our corrupt stooges ignored the meat of that report to focus on bandaid fixes for what is an ongoing democratic deficit in this country.

ygtbk

@Fidel: Do you have a link to the Lortie Commission recommendations? I did a quick search and found some catalogue entries for a four-volume dead-tree edition printed in the early 90's, but I couldn't find any of the text online.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcom-- I dropped out of this conversation with you because I became extremely annoyed by your tone in the last thread and then this one. In my post #5 I showed that I was annoyed. You replied in your post #12 although you ignored my post #6. Fair enough. I figure we were even there. I left you there completely uninterested in having any further conversation with you.

But you kept going even without my reply to your post #12 in your post #14 (twaddle comment); #22 (disjointed ravings comment); post #27 (screaching about it); Post #41 (daft).

Your post #12 already had one-upped any hostility I presented to you up to that point and having topped me to that point I don't get why you felt the need to continue even without replies to you.

That last comment in post 41 -- may or may not be applied to me since I did not come out advocating the removal of the tax credit-- I merely pointed out that the credit was not going to be limited as you proposed while the public finance/per vote was removed. The Cons may have agreed to limit it before but have been speaking openly lately of increasing it. Anyhow, you did attribute that argument to me earlier. Still it either is towards me or it is towards someone else which still does not encourage me to return to a debate the topic with you.

However, since I left the conversation you have continued a largely one-sided series of insults in place of argument.

Let me just say here that I left the conversation not because you convinced me that my argument was any of the things you said but that I no longer wanted to discuss with you. Now would you please stop referring to me or my position directly or indirectly and do not assume for a second that you have convinced me of anything other than the fact that the conversation was no longer worthwhile.

Just to be clear you had already lost me with your post #26 here:

http://www.rabble.ca/babble/canadian-politics/laytonn-ndp-opposition-bla...

ETA and here is another of your greatest hits in a conversation I should not be biased about since I was not in it:

http://www.rabble.ca/news/2011/01/seeking-democratic-socialist-canadian-...

Perhaps you would be willing to engage with a litle less venom to start with... then people might want to continue a further investigation of ideas with you.

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Sean, I'm quite prepared to deal with reasoned arguments.  Present some.

JKR

Per vote grants are a non-issue that can only become an issue if we allow it to.

We should be concentrating on real issues like the insanity of even more corporate tax cuts.

Sean in Ottawa

Malcom there must be something good about you for Ottawa Observer to call you a friend.

I also suspect that on some major philosophical issues we may be if not in agreement at least on the same side.

But your approach that I have seen in several conversations of late makes it impossible to imagine any kind of productive conversation with you.

You have been here long enough to see that I am trying to be restrained in asking you to stop the insults and recognize that our debate is over.

I think I can be witty enough to match your insults toe to toe but I'm asking you to back off instead. Do you think you might be willing?

ygtbk

Here's the best thing I can find online about the Lortie Commission - it's obviously pretty abbreviated compared with a four-volume report but perhaps better than nothing:

http://www.studyparliament.ca/English/pdf/ongoing/1992_05_E.pdf

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

Here's a useful reference I've just found: from Hill Watch

 

Malcolm Malcolm's picture

Sean, if you don't want to talk to me, feel free not to talk to me.  You dropped out of the conversation earlier and somehow conversation managed to continue without you.  Indeed, it was around then that the conversation started to become substantive, although I won't conclude one caused the other.  You are free to participate or not participate as you see fit.

 

JKR, I agree that there is much to be made about right wing profligacy in terms of corporate tax cuts (btw, have you seen this?), untendered fighter contracts, mismanaged stimulus spending etc.  I think, though, that is a separate matter from the public funding issue.  I think public funding does have legs, and that if our response is to defend the per vote regime, then we are conceding the terms of the debate to the Cons. 

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