Dropping Per Vote Subsidies Fraught With Problems

Stephen Harper

By Geoff Stevens, The Record, 30 May 2011

Next week, when the Harper government brings down the first budget of its majority era, it will include a controversial provision to phase out the per-vote subsidy for political parties — a move that will save about $27.4 million a year. The principle, as the prime minister explains it, is that taxpayers should not be expected to finance political parties they do not support at the poll.

On one level, it’s smart politics because the loss of the subsidy will hurt the opposition parties much more than the governing party.

On another level, it is a disingenuous argument. The per-vote subsidy is one of three established taxpayer-financed measures designed to make the political field as level as possible — by controlling the amount of influence that money (and those who have it) can command.

The other two measures are tax credits and expense reimbursements. Stephen Harper is not proposing to eliminate either of those — conceivably because each benefits the Conservatives more than their opponents. [...]

 

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Photo: The Globe and Mail

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