29 March 2010

Per Vote Subsidy is Baaaack!

So I was partly right when I asked why Stephen Harper raised the per-vote subsidy issue in Question Period a couple of weeks ago.

According to the Hill Times, "Prime Minister Stephen Harper's Conservatives will campaign on killing the $30-million per-vote-subsidy to political parties in the next election, the Prime Minister's Office confirmed."

In an analysis of Canada's democratic deficit, I wrote the following:

The issue of party subsidies is much less about the health - and wealth - of parties than it is about inclusiveness of all members of the electorate. That per vote subsidy enables low income earners to contribute financially to their party of choice.

This may be a small thing to people whose incomes make donations affordable, even beneficial through the political donations income tax write-off. But it's a HUGE thing for those amongst us whose income is too low to pay income tax.

In other words, from the perspective of low income voters, the per-vote subsidy is less about the fortunes of political parties and more about our ability to give to the party whose policies, principles and philosophy we  favour. Voting, volunteering, and that subsidy are the only ways we can show such support and try to influence our country's direction.

The politicos, their elite backers, and much of the media keep focusing on the wrong thing when it comes to fixing our democracy. They keep focusing on parties, not VOTERS.

They use similar arguments with respect to reforming our electoral system. Better to preserve our 12th century single member plurality system to ensure Canada's two major parties continue to diddle power between them, than to bring fair, proportional representation to voters.

No wonder citizens are turning away from the system and from (formal) political participation. You politicos and political-wannabes have things ass backwards.

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