Monday, March 14, 2011

Ending the Voter Subsidy Will Not "Whiff" of Anything But Greed

Thomas Walkom had a rather interesting column this week, suggesting that despite the recent scandals and revelations of further contempt for democracy, Stephen Harper still has an ace up his sleeve, with the voter subsidies.

Harper has laid down the law and advised the opposition that he will be putting an end to them.

For those who don't know, the voter subsidies were put in place by Jean Chretien, to replace corporate and union donations. They now amount to $1.95 of your tax dollars going to the party of your choice, when you cast your ballot.

The price of a cup of coffee.

Walkom provides a tally of the total cost of the subsidies at $27 million. A staggering figure. He then tacks on the rebates provided by Elections Canada, to candidates to help fund democratic elections, and the 20 million in tax breaks for those who contribute larger amounts of money. Naturally, this one the Conservatives have no intention of playing with.

The only challenge is the $27 million dollars in total, as reimbursement for encouraging people to vote. $1.95 per vote to help your chosen party survive.

But let's pull that ace out of Stephen Harper's sleeve and see what else he has up there, when it comes to his own re-election financing.

Ah, yes. $45 million dollars spent on signs to advertise his public relations scheme, affectionately dubbed the "Canada Action Plan". We didn't get a say in that, but for every vote cast last election, that's $ 3.25 per. Roughly the price of a Big Mac.

But then the entire $45 million was only spent on the Conservatives. Taxpayers and voters didn't get a chance to decide what went on those signs, so it wouldn't be fair to include the votes earned by the opposition.

Given that Harper's party netted 5,208,796 votes last election, that puts the sign subsidy at $8.64 per vote. The price of an entire meal deal.

The figures for television, radio and print ads (one in the New York Times of all places) varies, depending on who provides the information. As low as $130 million and as high as $200 million. Those buses emblazoned in Conservative colours make me think the high end, but for the sake of argument, I'll low ball to $100 million, on one party.

That's $19.20 per voter subsidy, bringing the total to $27.84. We no longer have to eat at McDonald's. Or at least they don't.

Now we'll move on to the $42 million dollar website that the Conservatives were warned crossed the line from promoting government to promoting Stephen Harper. After all there were 40 photos of the big guy and a link to his piano playing.

That's a voter subsidy for a single party of $8.06, bringing the Conservative Party subsidy to $35.90 per vote.

Then there's the $5 million spent on self-promotion ads during the Olympics and the $6.5 million spent recently to sell Flaherty's next budget. Combined that's another $2.21 per, bringing the total to $38.11 for each Conservative vote.

And there's the $100 million poured into Tony Clement's riding to aid his re-election, another $19.20 for a total of $57.31 per vote.

And the latest $26 million ad buy. Another $4.99 for a total vote subsidy of $62.30.

And those are just the things we can cost out. Let's not forget:

- The most expensive photo-ops this country has ever had to finance.

- The use of our military jets, in part to help with fundraisers. As of November 2009, there were 1,900 such flights and the government refused to provide passenger lists. (Tories silent on who flew on executive jets, By Glen McGregor, The Ottawa Citizen, November 19, 2009)

- The expensive decisions, like prison expansion, made to appease their base.

- $100,000 to make a spending announcement in Cambridge Ontario because MP Gary Goodyear was in trouble over an alleged adoption scheme.

- Pork Barrelling with stimulus money for votes. (Big cardboard cheques anyone?)

- Millions for videos and photos taken by Harper staff to replace legitimate photo and video journalism.

- A swollen communications team, paid for by us, to draft press releases that show the Conservatives in a good light.

- Abuse of Parliamentary privilege, not likely confined to Jason Kenney and Gail Shea (sent out a newsletter on Fisheries letterhead attacking the Liberals).

- Using our money to pay for their fundraisers

The list goes on.

And let's not forget that the "In and Out" election financing scheme, was a direct attempt at getting taxpayers to fund their campaign.

So the choice for voters will be the price of a cup of coffee, going to the party of their choice. A reward for casting their ballot. Or the constant sound of corks popping off champagne bottles, as we continue to fund the Conservative Party's re-election schemes, when we have no choice, and never get even a sip of the champagne.

In Walkom's final analysis he suggests that the Conservatives fighting on the subsidy issue "has the whiff of a winner". It only makes me wonder what Walkom is whiffing. Do the math.

The Canadian taxpayer has been funding this party for five years. It's time to pull the plug. They clearly have no concept of the value of a hard earned dollar.


  1. Awesome... truly awesome column. Well done Emily Dee. How do I get this column into every Canadian's hands before Harper has totally destroyed Canada? Or is it too late?

  2. This is really well done. Thanks for providing a tally.