Green and growing

My story about being a Green politician in Canada, and why it was the best thing I ever did.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Time to bring back the per vote subsidy

When the Chretien government moved to eliminate corporate donations to political parties, it realized that there would be a gap in party funding, so they created the per vote subsidy. It is a very simple system: for every vote your party receives in a federal election, you get a small amount of money ($1.75 at the start) per vote per year until the next federal election. Since elections happen roughly every four years, a vote will generate about $7 for the party (this increased due to inflation indexing).

There are two other mechanisms for raising money in parties. The first is personal donations which are subsidized through extremely generous tax refunds (75% of the first $400, etc.). The second is that national parties and individual election campaigns receive a 50% and 60% respectively rebate for their election expenses. This subsidy works based on spending money in an election.

The per vote subsidy was by far the least expensive of these three options. In spite of that, the Harper government eliminated per vote funding. Why would they do such a thing, if it is not that expensive?

In my opinion, the primary reason is that it gave people a reason to vote for the party they believed in. Even if their local candidate did not win, the party would get the $7 or $8 that their vote generated. It was a reason to believe in your cause, whatever that cause might be.

Proportional representation does the same thing. If my vote counts, somehow, even if my local candidate does not win, then I have a reason to vote to support my beliefs. The duopoly of Liberals and Conservatives do not want that. They want you to be a supporter of the "big tent", a tent within which your minority beliefs will be ignored.

Per votes subsidy went away for the same reason that proportional representation was nixed by the current government ... it did not serve the interests of the big tent parties. I expect that a major reason for the Chretien government to have introduced the payment in the first place was to encourage the Reform party and other upstart Conservative movements, in order to keep the Progressive Conservative party in check. With the first past the post system, Chretien won three undeserved majority governments.

The political masters of the Canadian government live in mortal fear that Canadians might someday get the government they really want, and they will block progress on every front until Canadians stand up and say we will not accept this any longer.