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Priorities, Mr Harper.

Harper has declared that one of his major platform campaigns next elections will be to end the public election financing system in Canada brought in by Jean Chretien as a way of reducing the influence corporations and unions had in financing candidates and parties of their preference. In doing so, Chretien added Canada to a large number of countries in the world – including the heart of capitalism, the United States – who have a form of public financing for their elections.

Harper wishes to get rid of this system for reasons well hashed out elsewhere – it would cripple the other parties to varying degrees, and Harper is all about crippling his opponents. I could go over again how vindictive and self-serving Harper is being, but instead, I’ll say I find it amusing that Harper is going on a crusade to cut out this “wasteful spending” in trying to eliminate a public financing system that costs 27 million $ (which is self-funded by voters who give 2$ to the party of their choice by voting for them) after the billion$ + he spent on the G20, with all its lavish waste, and the 16 billion$ + he wishes to spend on a non-tendered non-competitive sole-source stealth fighter jet bid, which is less about defending Canadian airspace then it is about going gung-ho in going on other NATO military missions that may crop up in the future.

The thing that makes it less amusing than it might be is he might actually get away with this nonsense. It’s up to the media (who have been doing a fair job of pointing this out) and the opposition parties, particularly the Liberals – to make a strong case as to why public financing is a good system to keep, and why Harper is being extremely disingenuous on claiming this is waste, when he has far bigger spending that he has done or wants to do (if he really wanted to get rid of wasteful spending from an election campaign, he could actually cut out a couple of other things in election law if he wanted, but he’s not going to, because that would be a disadvantage to his party).


52 comments to Priorities, Mr Harper.

  • @Earl G.

    When public funding is a significant portion of political Party revenue it can be used to enforce fair play of Federal Political Parties. Your complaint is the BQ is not a Federal Political Party which only runs candidates in one province. Simple require Federal political Parties to run candidates in the majority or all Provinces to qualify for public funding.

    The cost of corruption is far greater than the cost of public funding. You have obviously not read Corruption and democracy: Political finances – conflicts of interest – lobbying – justice (2008) Government corruption is very much a hidden tax/burden on the country without the benefits of Government tax revenue which can be spend on public services.

    In fact a deep recession is a good reason for public funding political Parties as a means of reducing the hidden burden of corruption.

  • Earl G.

    All that Scott is interested in is tactics. So let’s talk about tactics. Is it possible for Ignatieff to defend taxpayer money flowing to political parties just as we come out of a recession? If so, how?

    • Redrum

      @Earl G., funny, I haven’t seen the CPC give any of theirs back. In fact, all I’ve seen is them INCREASING a whole slew of wasteful measures designed to enhance their electoral prospects which have cost many times more millions annually: satellite offices for the PMO, more cabinet ministries, idiotic EAP signs, ceremonies, and tracking programs, and more, like the pork-barelling vanity projects in Clemenet’s riding. You’re wallowing in hypcrocisy, pretending it’s about cost-cutting. This is the biggest spending government EVER.

      • Earl G.

        @Redrum, so this will be the Liberal argument? The Conservatives are spending wastefully, so please let us continue to spend wastefully on ourselves?

        If you think that party welfare can be sold in an election campaign, you’re dreaming. Harper is going to leave you on the barroom floor for the third time in a row.

        • Redrum

          @Hurl, you still here?!

          No, I don’t know what “the Liberal argument” will be, because I don’t, and don’t pretend to speak for them: I’m just someone who votes for the party more often than not.

          And, no, that wasn’t MY argument, either: mine is that the vote subsidy is NOT wasteful at all, and that the CPC attempt to claim that it IS primarily motivated by the desire to save tax-dollars being spent to benefit political parties is completely dishonest and is contradicted by its own behaviour in several ways, and that in fact its primary desire is to benfit itself and reduce the opportunities for democratic choice in this country. And that the political donations model it’s championing is severely flawed and has been causing a lot of damage in this country, both in the CPC’s style of governance and in polarizing the electorate and poisoning the level of public discourse.

        • Earl G.

          @Redrum, this is pretty sad. If the BQ succeeds in breaking up Canada, will you be able to tell your kids that you stood up for your country? Guess not. Canada needs fewer cowards like you, to be frank.

        • Redrum

          @Earl G., that’s a load of crap: killing the subsidy won’t kill the BQ: in the 3 elections before the subsidy was brought in (in 2004), they got b/w 38 and 49% of the vote. And in the 3 elections after, they got: b/w 38 and 49% of the vote. So it’s hardly been a game-changer, has it?

          http + ://

          Sure, this has probably made it easier for them, to not have to bother doing much fundraising. But when a measure like this is brought in to try to destroy the party & deprive its voters of an option to vote for (which ISN’T just about separatism, BTW — not by a long shot), you’ll only incense Quebeckers into donating more to them, just to spite you, so it’s YOU lot who are inflaming separatism by poking it with this stick. Idiots.

        • Earl G.

          @Redrum, keep up the rationalizations, wuss-boy. The Liberal Party is Duceppe’s bitch.

    • tdwebste

      @Earl G.,

      I really recommend you read this book. It is NOT about who wins the election, it about how elections are fought. And stop mouthing off like an idiot.

      Corruption and democracy: Political finances – conflicts of interest – lobbying – justice (2008)


      Political corruption is an important challenge that democracies in Europe are confronted with. It contributes to the decline of citizens’ trust and confidence in democracy and weakens democratic principles and processes. Key areas of concern include:
      – Political finances
      – Conflicts of interest
      – Lobbying
      – Undue influence on the justice system.

      This book contains contributions on each of these topics. They identity risks that corruption poses to the future of democracy in Europe, and they propose a wide range of measures for action which are not only aimed at preventing political corruption and enhancing transparency and accountability but also at rebuilding confidence in democracy.

      For a quick summary start at page 192.

      • Redrum

        @tdwebste, hmm, you’re not helping — they’re more apt to use that as a ‘How To Guide’ than as a cautionary note.

        • @Redrum,

          You are right.

          The book is a virtual catalog of democratic abuses, illustrating the need for the recommended controls summarized after page 192.

          I hope most everyone reads it. It is knowledge which prevents the naive from being led to their destruction by the arrogant fools.

          Arrogant fools will take this catalog of democratic abuses and apply them, hoping that the naive are too lazy to gain some knowledge. It is the lack of knowledge which insures the naive their destruction.

    • Redrum

      @Earl G., you’re a moron. Harper’s the one who’s been playing footsie with them about giving them $2.1-B for something they already did years ago on the HST; and HE’s the one who bent over & pandered to their separatist quest by giving

      “Quebec a seat at UNESCO and ha[ving] the House of Commons declare the Quebecois a nation, to the Bloc’s delight. Later the House unanimously expressed its sadness over a Maclean’s article and its denigration of the “Quebec nation,” to no objection from any Conservative MP in attendance.”

      www +

      http + ://

      • Earl G.

        @Redrum, there’s a difference between Quebec and the Bloc. I know that from your anglo hick perspective, it’s hard to discern. But those measures were requested by and are good for Quebecers. What you are defending is good for the separatists, and therefore bad for Canada. Canada could use fewer sell-outs like you.

        • Redrum

          @Earl G., that’s either two-faced revisionism or just more blind Harper worship.

          The ‘declaring QC as its own nation in Canada’ was a PQ, and then BQ motion, which Harper et al. changed, like, three words to, to try to get in front of it and claim credit for as his own.

          Sure, it may have been the politically expedient thing to do, to give the sovereignty-association type separatists almost everything they wanted in a purely symbolic way, to stall them from doing anything more on this front, and sure, a lot of Liberals were on board for that reason, too.

          That’s called being pragmatic, to make compromises so as not to make things worse: which is exactly what I’m calling for in leaving the subsidies as-is.

          But don’t pretend this wasn’t pandering to the BQ: the Western CPC members saw right through that and refused to vote for it, even though it was a whipped vote, and they lost a Cabinet Minister (Michael Chong) who resigned from the CPC caucus because it “smacked of ‘ethnic nationalism'” and because, “I believe in this great country of ours and I believe in one nation, undivided.”

          Similarly, the Lib. MP Gerard Kennedy, declared the motion as an “irresponsible step…”The prime minister’s responsibility is to protect the Constitution and the unity of the country. This motion does neither.”

          (from “Harper government loses minister over Quebec ’nation’ resolution,” CanWest News Service November 27, 2006)

        • Redrum

          @Earl G., and BTW, “Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.”

  • It is time people read a few books on the subject before they mouth off. Stephen Harper is hoping people have forgotten how to read or cannot remember why Public Party Financing was introduced.

    Lets start with this book

    Corruption and democracy: Political finances – conflicts of interest – lobbying – justice (2008)

    Alexander Seger, Drago Kos, Alvis Vilks, Ömer Faruk Gençkaya, Manuel Villoria Mendieta, Alan Doig, Siim Kallas, Rogier Chorus, William Dinan, David Miller, Pim Albers, Nihal Jayawickrama
    ISBN 978-92-871-6355-4

    An easy google link if you are interested in the summary starting at page 192

    Political Finances
    The challenge

  • Roll tide

    It is good for democracy to rely on individual donations.
    I sense a lack of confidence many of you have in your own party.
    What we are dealing with is the market place of ideas.
    Liberal ideas are superior to Conservative ones. Donations will bear this out.
    Harper is committing suicide.

    I on the other hand see Ignatieff is a brilliant man in the right place, at the right time. A man who, as James Laxer pointed out has connections with American intellectuals such as Robert Kagan, William Kristol and Robert Kaplan. The more Canadians hear him, the more they will open their wallets.
    Canadians love a man who sacrificed American residency.

  • Roll Tide

    No reason to fear Redrum. The same rules apply to averyone.
    Canadians are so angry at the manipulitive self serving Harper, money will flow to Ignatieff.
    A man who sacrificed American residency to rescue our country.
    The Tories will suffocate in their own pile of lies. Its a huge mistake on their part.

    • Redrum

      @Roll Tide, it’s not fear I’m expressing (so no need to spin more lies about how the Libs will supposedly benefit from this), it’s loathing how this CPC Party and gov’t (there’s very little difference anymore) operates: by capitalizing on fear!, and by continuously forsaking the public interest and delivering us into the hands of some of the biggest, most unscrupulous exploiters around, like oil companies, insurance companies, and, yes, telemarketers.

  • Roll tide

    Liberals should be embracing this.
    They are a true grassroots party, generously supported by it’s committed members who all want this country saved from a cold Prime Minister Harper.
    Since everyone knows they have the truth, and the Conservatives are full of lies, fundraising will be a piece of cake.
    Michael Ignatieff, in turn, will rescue Canada from those evil Reformatories.
    The disastrous, inept Conservative Party, will become the poverty case.

    Case closed.

    • Redrum

      @Roll tide, so that’s your principled answer to the q. I posed to you above, on whether you’re going to be consistent and advocate an end to ALL forms of corporate and organizational welfare (including tax subsidies for political donations & GST rebates for political expenditures):

      To avoid the q., spin yarns, and satirize?

      While the CPC’s own fundraisers proceed & succeed by scaremongering (“They would increase taxes, weaken our borders, gut the military and pursue the most radical social agenda in our nation’s history.”

      www +

      and by breaking the rules to transform the look & feel of feel-good gov’t websites to look like CPC ones

      www +

      and even by lying about who they’re calling for (the Party or the PM):

      www +

      Ugh. Boiler-room fundraising is one of the most unscrupulous, manipulative, wasteful and annoying businesses around, so, yes, it’s no surprise that you lot are so good at it and the Liberals have been reluctant to do it.

      Shame on you all for wanting to inflict more of it on the nation, while the rest of us regular citizens are rightly fed up with telemarketers, spammers, and scammers of all stripes.

  • ridenrain

    Thinking back to the time when Volpe’s biggest supporters were children who wanted to give their money to help him win the leadership contest, rather than buy an X-Box. Sure. That sounds reasonable. Ignore the fact that the father was a big shot in big-pharma.
    Clearly, the natural ruling party just expects taxpayers to support them. Their entitled, simple as that.

    • Jon Pertwee

      @ridenrain, these must be the talking points from the gold list. Thanks for bringing the heavy hitters Ridofbrain. What’s next? Some dirt on the Laurier government perhaps?

    • Redrum

      @ridenrain, As usual, you’re missing the point: that example* actually shows what’s WRONG with the donations model and why the vote subsidy should be preserved to discourage that sort of (alleged) abuse.

      The allegation there was that the MP &/or the specific corporation was trying to get around the limit on corporate donations by money laundering, in a sense: funneling an overly-large donation through the employees AND their family members to stay within the (now) $1,100 limit. And don’t think that this isn’t going on with the CPC and any of a number of oil-patch related companies (which is one of the things that’s so hypocritical about the CPC’s position).

      That’s exactly what Bill C-24, the relevant amendment to the Canada Elections Act, was brought in to combat: the big corporations & unions having a disproportionate influence by buying candidates off or beefing up the war-chests of those who’ve already proven sympathetic to their cause.


  • Mike

    Yes, eliminate the subsidy!!!!

    Because nothing is so good for for ensuring democracy works for ALL citizens like ensuring that the party that appeals most to those people with excess disposable income winds up with a significant competitive advantage at campaign time!

    Because if you can’t appeal to rich citizens, surely you don’t deserve to represent the poor ones!



  • wilson

    The Canadian taxpayer would still be picking up the tab for
    the reimbursement of candidates expenses and political donations are tax deductible.

    That is enough of a ‘payback’ in taxpayer money, for political parties.

    • Redrum

      @wilson, It’s far too much, if you guys were really sincere about it being wrong for taxpayers to subsidize political parties, which, of course, you’re not.

  • The alternative, of corporate financed political parties is a lot worse for us taxpayers, and in the end will cost a lot more than $2 a vote.

  • Roll Tide

    Let them stand on their own two feet.

    • Redrum

      @Roll Tide, you CommentingTories are so easily manipulated by those Protestant Work Ethic talking points, but let’s see how serious or CONsistent you are about that:

      Will you all also “go on record” to advocate putting an end to other forms of corporate welfare and protectionism to make every organization “stand on their own feet”?

      The oil companies are getting millions in subsidies, under this CPC gov’t; as are two of the major car companies; and they quietly spent about $2B to buy up the banks’ sketchy mortgages & loans to shield them from their own bad judgment & greed; & they shooed away the UAE airline competitor to protect the Unionized jobs at Air Canada (which is getting kickbacks from Lufthansa to feed mideast travellers to them from Toronto); and that’s just off the top of my head.

      ‘Course, when pressed about the hypocrisy, the gov’t will argue that those various bailouts, subsidies, and protectionist measures are in the public interest. Well, guess what, so is fostering democracy by tying all Parties’ supporters actual support from their actual votes to a nominal annual payment to those parties so that they can continue to participate in the political process and mount campaigns.

      • wilson

        ”..The oil companies are getting millions in subsidies, under this CPC gov’t…”

        Fin Min Paul Martin brought in accelerated CCA for the oil sands projects,
        and Fin Min Flaherty is phasing it out.

        “….According to the documents, the Canadian “action plan” on fossil fuels consists mainly of phasing out accelerated capital cost allowances for oil sands production — a measure that was first announced a few years ago and put on a faster track in the 2010 budget.

        “The accelerated CCA for oil sands projects will be phased out over the 2011-2015 period,” says the Canadian plan….”

        • Redrum

          @wilson, first, I don’t believe much of anything Flaherty says: his (we’re on a zig-zag) track record speaks for itself on that (as does Kevin Page); second, that’s conveniently selective in just seizing on the one item and say, um, we’re gonna reduce that one; third, the point isn’t who introduced it, it’s that subsidies CAN be in the public interest – because fostering some organizations or not allowing them to fail can be harmful to the commonweal.

  • Simply require that parties run a candidate in each riding of the country, otherwise the party is ineligible for the support.

  • ridenrain

    Indeed, think of it as just another entitlement.

    • Kring

      And as a way to finally and irreparably cripple the separatists that rely on this vote subsidy more than anyone else.

      • Redrum

        @Kring, except that’s just wishful thinking. As Duceppe said on P&P about this after his book came out, the BQ did just fine before the subsidy was introduced. And when it’s being sold like this — as an effort to crush them and as a big FU to their voters — you can bet that this is going to make them MORE powerful & well-supported than ever, not less. You clowns just don’t understand Quebec at all.

        • Jon Pertwee

          @Redrum, not just quebec…

        • Kring

          @redrum “you can bet that this is going to make them MORE powerful & well-supported than ever, not less. You clowns just don’t understand Quebec at all”.

          Good. The Bloc having the ability to sustain itself is more reason than ever to get rid of the subsidy. Perhaps I don’t understand Quebec as much as you say, but I don’t really care what separatists have to say. And you can bet your ass I understand the ROC, which is more important to me than what people who want to vote for a prty that wants to destroy Canada thinks.

        • Jon Pertwee

          @Redrum, shorter Kring: I dont care if people have a democratic voice if it disagrees with mine. Especially if it talks about that bad separamatism thing!

        • Earl G.

          @Jon Pertwee, wow, Chretien would have called you a real wuss. So much for standing up for our country!

    • Kring

      “I dont care if people have a democratic voice if it disagrees with mine. Especially if it talks about that bad separamatism thing”.

      No, only BECAUSE they talk about that “separamatism thing”. 🙂

      People who want to destroy the unity of our country shouldn’t have a voice. Stop defending separatists.

      • Jon Pertwee

        @Kring, sure Kring. I have no problem with the freedom of expression, nor the freedom to criticize our government and our country. You see, I think that you can improve things by looking at what is being criticized and using that to plan resolutions. The thing is the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mentality because inevitably it screws up.

        I dont agree with you. Separatists have a right to a voice, just as much as you or I Kring. Dont like it? Well too bad Kring. Freedom isnt dictated by you so suck it up crybaby.

        You commentingTories love to carp on about freedom but when it comes down to it, you’re very contemptuous of it. Plenty of people out here in Western Canada love to babble on about western separatism? What makes that any different? Nothing, yet I dont hear you going on about how people in Alberta, BC or Saskatchewan dont deserve a voice becaues they’ve talked about separatism. Hell, Stockwell Day’s daddy even led a separatist party in the 1980s and we’ve got the nerve to let him be in government. Maybe we should take your logic and throw ol’ Stock into the moat.

        Im not defending separatists Kring, Im defending an individual’s freedoms, which you obviously dont believe in.

        Kring an authoritarian? Who woulda thunk it?

        • Kring

          “Plenty of people out here in Western Canada love to babble on about western separatism? What makes that any different?”

          Nothing. They should be treated with the same contempt.

        • Jon Pertwee

          @Kring, would you prefer a system like Turkey where it’s illegal to insult Turkey, the Turkish ethnicity, or Turkish government institutions. It’s called article 301 and it sounds right up your alley.

          Too bad about that freedom thing eh Kring. It lets people say and think things you might not agree with. Once again suck it up crybaby and accept that you live in Canada, not Kringland.

      • Redrum

        @Kring, stop inflaming them. If Harper hadn’t roused you all up about this & just let the sleeping dog lie, Duceppe was poised to retire, and the BQ would’ve just petered out. You boneheads have given it a new lease on life.

  • Gayle

    I don’t think it would be too hard to point out the contrast between bleating about 27 million to political parties and spending billions for needless fighter jets. Sure, Ridenrain may not get it, but he is hardly the person the liberals want to convince.

    It’s the non blindly devoted CPC types the LPC are after.

    • Kring

      Except that people will be convinced that our military needs these jets but that they don’t need welfare for political parties.

  • ridenrain

    Good luck trying to sell this one to the taxpayer.

  • Kring

    Any day that a policy cripples the Liberal party is a good day for this country.

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