Monday, January 24, 2011

Per-vote subsidy but a fraction of taxpayer support for political parties

As part of his next campaign platform, Stephen Harper will propose the per-vote subsidy given to each party every year be abolished. As the Conservatives have a better money-raising organization than that of their rivals, the removal of the subsidy will wreak havoc on the finances of the opposition parties and give the Tories a distinct advantage. But all parties, and especially the Conservatives, will still rely mostly on funding from the public trough.

The rest of the article can be read on The Globe and Mail website.

I was thinking about my piece, and conducted a little thought exercise last night. What is the cost of a $400 donation to the Conservative Party?

Well, right off the bat there is the $300 tax credit. If we assume that the donation was given to a local campaign rather than the national headquarters, and then spent in an election, the $400 would be reimbursed to the tune of $240. And in the 2008 election, the Conservatives spent $3.72/vote, so we can say that the $400 donation could be spent to "buy" 108 votes. That costs taxpayers $216 through the per-vote subsidy.

In all, that $400 donation costs the taxpayer $756.

Now, following the same train of thought $400 in per-vote subsidies would cost the taxpayer $856, as all of it comes from the public purse. But that $400 allowance represents the democratic voice of 200 Canadians. The $400 donation, costing taxpayers $756, represents the voice of one.

Food for thought.