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.

45 comments:

  1. Great article! I was about to write a letter to top opposition politicians, with a proposal for a counter-attack to the Harper's suggestion to remove "subsidies" to political parties.

    I was thinking that instead one can actually increase the per-vote subsidy, and by making illegal private party donations, we could actually save a lot of taxpayers money. There are countries which do that (e.g. Austria). They could even make the "subsidy" progressive - smaller parties (Green etc.) will get more (say, 5$) per vote, whereas the largest (governmental) party will get less - say, 3$ per vote. This will insure the support of smaller parties for such an initiative. And I think the word "subsidy" is a wrong one, sort of shameful. This is in fact a very important part of our democratic system, the grease to lubricate the democratic machinery. Finally, by switching to such a system the need for hate (that is, fundraising) emails will be greatly diminished, from all parties.

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  2. So you're pointing out that even though the per vote subsidy will be gone, it shouldn't be because it's more democratic?

    How democratic is it really though when a party receives 3 times what people are actually willing to freely donate to it in subsidy? Can it be honestly said that a per vote subsidy is fair to a non-incumbent party like the Green party? How about a party like the federal Progressive Conservative party that can't get enough votes to receive a subsidy? Is it really fair that those voters are essentially disenfranchised from supporting their party solely through their vote? If people truly wanted to help their party, they would do so with their voice and their effort if they don't have the cash to do so.

    Here's better math. $300 tax credit + 240 reimbursed for expenses = $540 = the democratic will of one person who believed enough in a particular party to give them money. Even better than that would be $88 tax credit (federal portion of a charitable donation credit) and $240 = $328?

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  3. IMO all Tax Credit should disappear. All it is is a bribe to gain cash support.

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  4. I would also like to point out that not everyone can afford to send off their party of choice a $400.00 dollar donation.

    The per-vote subsidy ensures that voters like me (read as: other voting students like me) can contribute to political campaigns, in a monetary sense anyways.

    @oxygentax
    -That math just suits to re-enforce the idea that money can buy you a voice in this country. Eliminating the per-vote subsidy effectively kills the fundraising ability among low-income Canadians.

    Political groups with cross country and non-regional support (decentralized from Alberta, Toronto, Quebec) have to use the subsidy since their fundraising machine is much more difficult to master, despite having an arguably more democratic approach to politics.

    Also, this is my first time posting, and its a long time coming. I've been checking this site for a long time now, and I'd like to say that you've done an excellent job Eric!

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  5. Why should my tax dollars pay for someone else's vote to a party that I don't think has the right to exist in my country.

    Why should my tax dollars pay for someone else's vote to a party that won't even stand up in the house of commons and sing our national anthem.

    Why should my tax dollars pay for someone else's vote to a party that won't pledge allegiance to the country of Canada.

    This could go on and on...

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  6. Theoretically, with the per-vote subsidy the tax dollars of Bloc voters go to the Bloc.

    Tax credits on donations, on the other hand, mean that individual donors decide to which party people's tax dollars go to. From that angle, NDP, Green, and Bloc voters have their tax dollars go to parties they don't support, since their parties receive a smaller proportion of money doled out due to electoral expenses and tax credits.

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  7. I'm not sure it's fair to suggest that $400 will "buy" 108 votes. The Conservatives may have spend $3.72 per vote but that does *not* mean that taking twenty bucks out of their campaign fund would have resulted in 5 less supporters. The relationship between money spent and votes received is indirect.
    I would stick with $400 donation = $540 taxpayer expense.

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  8. All fair points. However, I think that view is subject to three caveats. First, Canadians don't vote for parties, so it's not entirely correct to say that a per-vote subsidy reflects democratic support for given parties. Formally (and, I think it's fair to say, to a large extent in practice) we vote for local candidates (who usually happen to be members of one party or another). Indeed, one concern with the per-vote subsidy is that, it might discourage voters from voting for a local candidate whom they like, because it results in additional funding for a party they don't.

    Second, because the "per-vote" subsidy is paid to the party, it increases the already high degree of centralization in Canadian political parties (which is a real problem with Canadian politics). Although this is potentially a problem with the "donation" subsidy, the concern is mitigated somewhat because (a) local riding associations can receive donations and (b) local candidates/riding associations will often be the point-man/woman for such fundraising. To certain degree, at least, the "donation" subsidy permits some autonomy at the local level.

    Third, Tom Flanagan had an interesting point in the Globe (I think) last week, to the effect that, the key difference between the two subsidies is that Parties have to work harder to get the "donation" subsidy, which, he argued should lead to a higher quality parties. There's a certain logic there. A party that has to depend on donations (whether tax-assisted or otherwise) has to actually go out and recruit members, accumulate supporters and figure out what they want, and craft policies that actually appeal to those supporters. A party that's wholly dependent on checks from the government (or, for that matter, corporate donations ) doesn't have to do that. It's an interesting thesis and appears to be consistent with the generally sad-sack performance of the Liberals post-2003.

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  9. All that said, I can think of two somewhat desirable fixes to the current election finance regime.

    First, one might increase the degree of progressivity in the tax credit. So, for example, you might get rid of the per-vote subsidy, but provide, say, a 100% tax credit for the first $10 (i.e., roughly, and not coincidentally, what a party membership costs), and on a sliding scale up to whatever the contribution limit is. The effect would be the same as the per-vote subsidy, i.e., at a minimum level there is not direct cost to you of contributing to your party. You could even mimic the RRSP rules and allow people to claim a credit for year 1 for amounts paid up to March 1 of year 2 (which would reduce the cash-flow problems with making donation).

    Second, right now the tax system only recognizes one "kind" of donation, i.e., cash. But, everyone knows that the life-blood of politics is volunteers (i.e., labour). You might provide a tax-credit for volunteers for political parties (which would be capped at the current mximum tax credit for donations). Although this is potentially suceptible to abuse (i.e., by having parties issue labour "receipts" in exchange for support - since presumably volunteer time is less readily monitored than cash donations), it would provide an incentive for different forms of political involvement (and, in practice, I suspect political parties would have an incentive to avoid abuse, given the adverse optics for them of "scamming" the system).

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  10. I support per vote subsidies, because I think fundraising is an incentive for parties to make promises and policy based on what is likely to generate donations, rather than what they think is best for Canada.

    Do I want a politician to spend more time fundraising (and therefore less time working)?

    When an MP visits his/her constituents, do I want him first to seek donations, and second to represent their interests?

    Do I want the interests of $400 (or $1,100) donors to weigh more than those who can't afford donations?

    I don't want 'retail politics' where ideas are market based on their return on investment.

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  11. Carl, fair points as well. I would suggest, however, that the per-vote subsidy encourages parties to get the most votes possible, even in ridings where they don't have a chance of winning. That means trying to appeal to voters. They have to work to do that.

    Having to work for donations means trying to appeal to potential party members and supporters.

    From my vantage point, the former is more important as democracy is based on voting and elections, not on party memberships.

    But I agree that it is a problem to funnel all the money to the central offices. Perhaps a superior system would have the per-vote subsidy given out to riding associations, and the parties themselves could decide how much stays locally and how much is sent to the national headquarters.

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  12. I object to the per vote subsidy on the grounds that it's a waste of money, and that it discourages the rise of new political parties. Telling me that other subsidied are worse doesn't have any effect on my opinion of the per-vote subsidy, because you haven't told me anything new about the per vote subsidy.

    I'm not sure what you're trying to say, here. Regardless of someone's position on the per-vote subsidy, you've given him no new information here. All you've done is made the other subsidies look even worse.

    I'd support eliminating all of the government funding for political parties. Cut the tax rebate. Cut the per-vote subsidy. Cut the reimbursement. All of it.

    And leave the donation limits at $1000 per person.

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  13. "I would also like to point out that not everyone can afford to send off their party of choice a $400.00 dollar donation.

    The per-vote subsidy ensures that voters like me (read as: other voting students like me) can contribute to political campaigns, in a monetary sense anyways."


    In other words.. you have very little money... and pay very little taxes too. You'd rather save your money for something else you consider a priority. And this isn't one for you.

    .... So you want to use my (and other peoples) tax money to give a "more democratic" contribution to a party that that person may or may not support.

    ...Because it isn't that big a priority for you to care enough about to allocate some of your own sparse funds.

    An odd definition of "democratic".

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  14. Well, the under-lying point is that doing away with the per-vote subsidy is only the tip of the iceberg if public subsidies are a problem, and if someone adopts a holier-than-thou attitude about the per-vote subsidy, it might be a good idea to know the full story.

    --- All you've done is made the other subsidies look even worse.

    Is that not point enough? The calls to get rid of the per-vote subsidy would ring much truer if they were accompanied by calls to get rid of the electoral reimbursements and/or the tax credits. Otherwise it is just playing politics.

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  15. "I would suggest, however, that the per-vote subsidy encourages parties to get the most votes possible, even in ridings where they don't have a chance of winning. That means trying to appeal to voters. They have to work to do that."


    That's one of the positive side affects of the per vote system. And while I do like forcing parties to try an go out and win more votes... however it also can encourage more negative campaigning to prevent your opponents from getting votes and therefore money. "not a leader, hidden agenda, just visiting, redneck, regionalism and other negative wedge politics.

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  16. It's a complicated issue, most definitely.

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  17. I do like TRN's argument for per vote subsidies based on reducing retail politics and asking for money first rather than creating policy first.

    But I do feel that a donation system fits better. People "vote with their feet" as it were. If something is important to them, then they work to make it a priority. If something isn't a priority, then they put their effort somewhere else.

    For example: my uncles family lives (based on the artificial construct) below the poverty line. But they are deeply involved in their church, where they donate a significant amount of time, effort, and of their meager funds. It is a priority for them so much that they forgo things that others take for granted.. and consider it a good use of their money.

    The donation limit (1000 right now) serves to limit big donations from people who could use that influence to buy the opinions that they want. The donation limit should mean that small donations from people who only commit a little would have a voice.

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  18. I have a quick question.

    Is it only parties that get a certain % of the vote that qualify for the $1.95?

    Or does any vote get that??

    I guess what I am asking is are we discouraging people from running in small parties (like pirate or rhino) or as independents??



    I wouldn't mind seeing a whole bunch of the taxpayer subsidization of all kinds eliminated. But failing that, perhaps having both systems, each with their inequities... Perhaps the 2 systems balance each other into a workable design.

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  19. --- Is it only parties that get a certain % of the vote that qualify for the $1.95?

    A party needs 2% of the vote nationally or 5% of the vote in all of the ridings in which they presented candidates.

    --- I guess what I am asking is are we discouraging people from running in small parties (like pirate or rhino) or as independents??

    Yes, which I point out in the article. Their expenses are reimbursed, however, if they had 10% of the vote in their ridings.

    --- Perhaps the 2 systems balance each other into a workable design.

    After looking at the issue in detail, I think I might agree. But it would perhaps be better to reduce everything. The credits, allowance, and reimbursement rates are all too high, I think.

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  20. "A party needs 2% of the vote"

    What about an independent, like Andre Arthur? Would he be eligible for the $1.95??

    If not we would seem to be increasing the power of the party at the expense of individual MP's. Reducing the chances of Joe sixpack to compete without the friendship and backing of a party and those in control of it.

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  21. "That means trying to appeal to voters. They have to work to do that."

    True, although given the relatively high degree of party loyalty, political parties only really have to work hard at the margin to get votes (whereas, even among core supporters, prying money from them takes effort). To the extent that the subsidy flows from "core" voters, that's free money. More importantly, they only have to work hard during elections.

    Moreover, they only have an incentive to garner additional votes in suicide ridings to the extent the benefits of doing so (more funding) outweights the costs. I'd suggest that, in a lot of instances, that isn't the case (since the cost of running a semo-effective campaign in those ridings are greater than the value of the per-vote subsidy from the increased votes.

    And, because the per-vote subsidy is provided on a retroactive basis (rather than an on-going basis) it can have some weird implications. Had it been in place in 1993, the Tories would have been given an enormous additional advantage over their (more popular) Reform and and Bloc opponents.

    "Having to work for donations means trying to appeal to potential party members and supporters."


    Isn't that the same sub-group that you have to appeal to get the per-vote subsidy, i.e., supporters and potential supporters? I'm not sure what the distinction is, except that in the one case, you need to do for 6 weeks every 4(or so) years, whereas in the other you have to do it continuously. Under which regime is a party likely to be more responsive to the opinions of their supporters?

    "From my vantage point, the former is more important as democracy is based on voting and elections, not on party memberships."

    I disagree with that. First, in some sense, voting is its own reward for political parties. You get votes, you (generallly) win seats. Parties don't really need additional incentives to get votes. Even in suicide ridings, sucessful parties should want to try to build their base in those ridings so that, one day, they might not be suicide ridings (I think part of the Liberal's problem is that they haven't done that).

    Second, while voting and elections are essential attributes of a democracy, democracy is about a lot more than voting and elections, particularly in a liberal representative democracy like Canada. Parties and local riding associations play an essential role in Canadian democracy, in forming coalitions and reaching compromises amongst competing interests, to say nothing of filtering up information about concerns and priorities. To the extent that the need to solicit donations also provides an incentive to parties to encourage deeper and more meaningful involvement in the political system (beyond merely voting once every few years) that has significant social value.


    Mind you, I don't much care about the per-vote subsidy (though, I'm sure the imagery of the fisc. cutting a check for the Bloc Quebecois every quarter or so will play well for the Tories in English Canada), as I see it the only real effect of getting rid of it is that political parties (particularly the Tories, who seem to have an endless supply of it) would have to put their money to better use.

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  22. --- What about an independent, like Andre Arthur? Would he be eligible for the $1.95??

    No, and that's certainly a problem. I think all of the methods of providing public party funding have real problems around the edges. When comparing one to the other, I think what matters is how big the "correct" middle is.

    Arthur would have 60% of his electoral expenses reimbursed, however.

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  23. I am just wondering why you would use so much of your time to undermine a system of political financing that is considered the best in the free world. While it can be improved, your commentary does little, if anything, to contribute to that improvement. Moreover, it might be interesting to point out to your fans that the total costs of democratic institutions and parties in Canada, including Parliament, the Senate, the electoral process, salaries, offices, secretaries and the myriad executive assistants, etc., amount to less than 1/2 of 1 percent of Canada's GDP and less than 2 percent of our annual budgetary expenditures. A damn good bargain, I would say!

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  24. A party needs 2% of the vote nationally or 5% of the vote in all of the ridings in which they presented candidates.

    I believe that the Ontario Court of Appeal erred in saying that this rule was constitutional. Its logic was that that infringement of the Charter was justified because the 2% threshold was for the purpose of preventing misuse of the funds by parties that were not intent on actually contesting the election (Rhinos, Natural Law).

    But what is the connection between getting less than 2% and not legitimately trying to contest the election? Was the Green Party not a serious party until it achieved 4% of the vote in 2004 rather than 1% in 2000? The Reform Party got 2.09% of the vote in 1988-- if it had gotten 8,000 fewer votes, the logic of this judgment would have deemed it as not seriously contesting the election.

    If we're going to have subsidies-per-vote, then let the people decide which parties are serious and which aren't: by voting for them.

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  25. Anonymous,

    My main objective was to inform, not advocate for any particular method.

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  26. Killing the per vote subsidy is, I think, a good idea. If the CPC wants to eliminate it, I support them on that, regardless of their positions on the other subsidies.

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  27. Carl and Ira hit on the #1 problem with any per vote subsidy.

    1993.

    BQ and Reform emerge as the PC collapses.

    These new parties represent the democratic will of many of the people in the West and in Quebec.


    Yet because new parties don't get this funding they would have been at a HUGE disadvantage to the PC party.

    1993 is the perfect case study for why per vote subsidies are the enemy of democracy.

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  28. Eric I think this is a major error in thinking:

    "But that $400 allowance represents the democratic voice of 200 Canadians."

    Does it ?

    Remember the subsidy is payed out quarterly for up to 4 years.


    Anyone here ever vote for a party and then a year or two later support somebody else ??

    Too bad!

    The per vote subsidy LOCKS IN your vote for 4 years!

    Your money is going to a party you might now hate.

    (This is related to the 1993 case.)


    "Theoretically, with the per-vote subsidy the tax dollars of Bloc voters go to the Bloc."

    Well no. Rich people pay most of the taxes in Canada. So does Alberta.

    And since we're all in a deficit so do investors from around the world.

    It really isn't the case that this is YOUR money that you're directing with YOUR vote.

    Its somebody elses money.

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  29. Éric: But I agree that it is a problem to funnel all the money to the central offices. Perhaps a superior system would have the per-vote subsidy given out to riding associations, and the parties themselves could decide how much stays locally and how much is sent to the national headquarters.

    That almost describes the Green Party. The central party and the riding associations each get their share. (It's a bit more complicated than that, but the rules are clear.) The funding goes to the central party, but the membership has determined that it should not all be held centrally in a grassroots party.

    I strongly believe this is the best arrangement. However, I'd hesitate to enshrine it in legislation. I wouldn't want to dictate internal funding arrangements to Tories, Grits and Dippers. They get to decide what works for them. And if it doesn't work--well, I can live with that too.

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  30. Shadow said:
    ""Theoretically, with the per-vote subsidy the tax dollars of Bloc voters go to the Bloc." Well no. Rich people pay most of the taxes in Canada. So does Alberta. And since we're all in a deficit so do investors from around the world.
    It really isn't the case that this is YOUR money that you're directing with YOUR vote. Its somebody elses money."

    At first glance this seems like a good point, although the assertion that investors around the world pay Canadian taxes because we have a deficit is gibberish. But it is true that since money is fungible, it is not really meaningful to say to what expenditure items "your" tax dollars go. Of course, it makes it just as meaningless to say that others (Albertans, the rich) are paying for the $1.95 that goes to the party you voted for. And the assignment problem is one that could be fixed, although it wouldn't be worthwhile to do it. Levy a $1 tax on all Canadians 18 and older, while reducing all other taxes by an amount equal to the revenue raised. Put the money from this per-adult levy in a fund used to finance the per-vote subsidies (only $1 per person needed since only about half the electorate votes). Now you COULD meaningfully say that your taxes (along with a part of all non-voters' per-person tax) went to the party you voted for. But this is just a formalisation of what happens anyway, so it is fine to think in these terms under the present system.

    But anyway the fungibility point obscures a more important one. With the per-vote subsidy, a total of X dollars in public resources goes to all parties in proportion to their support in the most recent election. You can choose to ensure that $1.95 of that total X goes to the party of your choice by voting for it. If you don't vote, some of your money (about $1, in practice) will go to all parties in proportion to their popular vote shares (you are taxed for your non-participation in the electoral process). These seem like solid democratic principles. But with the tax credit, it is quite different. For that, some different (and larger) amount Y of public resources goes in tax credits to people who donate money to political parties (and the parties get more public resources in reimbursements when they spend these donations in campaigns). So the criterion for allocating public resources is now not voting, but donating. Not each person having an equal say via their vote, which is inherently democratic, but each dollar having an equal influence, so that those who have more money have more influence. That surely does as much to undermine democracy as to strengthen it. If there is any part of the public resources made available to facilitate party financing that should be reduced, start with the tax credits. Eric is right.

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  31. Anon the general point is that the average person uses far more in government resources than they support with their taxes.


    Trying to pretend otherwise is just silly.

    Nobody is directing their tax dollars anywhere. This is coming from the rich, from Alberta, from corporations, and in the case of deficit financing from over seas.

    These are the ONLY groups that pay more than they recieve.

    (Its an irrelevent point anyways, this illusory lie you're attempting to defend.

    Everybody gets a vote in a democracy be they poor or rich.

    Stop trying to tie this policy to some sily notion of consumer choice/democratic voice and defend it along the lines of whether its good public policy or not.)

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  32. Éric,

    The per voter subsidy is now at $2.04.

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  33. Personal taxes aren't provincial equalization. Albertans don't pay taxes, we all do. That Nova Scotians and Quebecers get part of their taxes funneled back to their provincial governments is irrelevant. We're all just throwing it on the metaphorical pile.

    Ronald,

    No, it is now $2.004/vote.

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  34. "the average person uses far more in government resources than they support with their taxes."

    If that were true, that would guarantee deficit financing forever.

    The government has no source of revenue other than taxes (arguably they can also create revenue by printing money, but that's just a de facto tax on Canadians' assets).

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  35. Alberta's tax revenue is 38 billion... 25% of which is personal income taxes. (10% flat rate for everyone).

    That is just short of 10 Billion

    A 2007 Calgary Herald story stated that Alberta residents sent 29 billion to Ottawa. And received only 17 Billion in services.


    Now I realize that would likely be spread around and not all go to income tax. But correcting that imbalance (that noone seems to care exists as much as when it is a more populous province with more seats), would amount to more than 1/4 of Alberta's Budget.

    With that money, they could conceivably eliminate 1/2 of all the tax revenue they collect all together and not change their bottom line at all.


    So while we all pay taxes, Eric. It would seem that Alberta residents toss more into your pile. 12 billion more. ($3250 per person) More than the average Canadian.

    PEI is on the other end benefiting more than $2400 (just in the equalization program... this doesn't include lower federal taxes from the lower income, or the fact that PEI probably has less resource revenue than a province with more resources that Ottawa gets.)


    So to complete the example; in addition to PEI voters having a vote worth roughly 300% of the average Albertan's vote (based on number of voters in an average riding).... Using the per vote system (and assuming that Alberta voters do not always vote the same as PEI voters) ... Alberta would also subsidize a large portion of the PEI $2.004 per voter).

    Which only goes back to people who pay more taxes paying most of the $2 for the people who pay little taxes. But using a regional example to do it.

    But given that PEI voted in 08 47% in favor of the liberals, and in 06 52% for libreals. While Alberta voted in 08 64% in favor of conservatives and 65% in 06...

    It might be useful to do further study into who is paying for whose vote under not just the donation system,... but based on this per vote system too.

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  36. I think when it comes to subsidies of any kind (political parties included) we need to think about what we want to encourage.

    Expense reimbursement: Encourages parties to spend as much as possible since they get 50-60% back. I sure don't want to have the biggest spenders in government.

    Donation based credits: Encourages parties to ask for money and to chase those who have the most. Thus they are going around begging for handouts from taxpayers. Is that what you want running your country, people who are good at sucking cash out of others?

    Per vote: Encourages parties to get people to vote for them in as large a number as possible wherever they are running candidates. Last I checked that is what democracy is about - doing whatever it takes to make the highest number of people vote for you.

    I don't know about oxygentax or Shadow or the current CPC but I sure know which thing I want to encourage politicians to be doing - and that is earning my vote, not digging into my wallet or spending as much as possible.

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  37. "the average person uses far more in government resources than they support with their taxes."

    If that were true, that would guarantee deficit financing forever.


    Huh? The government has other revenue sources.

    Investment income
    Resource royalties, and land leases
    Crown Corporation revenues like Saskpower
    Fees, Licenses, Premiums

    Just to name a few.

    Without which, you are quite correct, we are in a permanent deficit position.

    In Alberta for example.. less than 1/2 of revenues are from taxes.

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  38. I don't know John

    The expenses return is capped. Based on a spending cap.

    The donations force parties to work for your vote, many people they even have to contact and talk to....

    And then there is the per vote subsidy. Which encourages vote buying and governments trying to bribe people with their own money. Not to mention spending every last nickel they can in a campaign (same as the expenses rebate) to get every vote. Not to mention the negative politics to try and prevent people from going out to vote for someone else.


    There is lots of ways to look at things.

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  39. Barcs, Ira,

    We have a progressive income tax in this country.

    The rich have a higher rate and a higher income.

    They pay far more than they recieve in services.


    This allows the average person to use more than they pay.

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  40. Barcs, that is some odd logic there.

    "The donations force parties to work for your vote, many people they even have to contact and talk to...."

    Well, it forces them to talk to people who have money to spend donating to political parties. I am a Green supporter but even I don't dump $400+ to them each year. Few average people can do that. However, if I made $250k a year then you bet I'd be donating the max. To me that encourages parties to only listen to those with money. Which is fine as far as some are concerned, but not good if you believe in democracy as it is a small percentage of people who could afford to donate that much.

    "And then there is the per vote subsidy. Which encourages vote buying and governments trying to bribe people with their own money."

    Err... given that getting votes is the only way to power I'd figure they would be doing that already. All the per vote subsidy does is discourage them from negative ads (those are proven to reduce total voters), encourage them to keep working in lost cause ridings (every vote counts), make it so votes for, say, the NDP in Alberta are actually worthwhile.

    I feel the per vote should be split 50-50 between the party and local riding associations (based on votes in each riding), while independent candidates should get 100% of the funding for each vote they got. If you got 200 votes you get $400 a year until the next election to be used towards political purposes. A great way to encourage more to run - get 500 votes then in 4 years you'd have $4000 to help you run again which buys a heck of a lot of signs and ads (take it from a GPC member who knows how low our budget is and how to stretch a dollar).

    Of course, that is the last thing the CPC or LPC want.

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  41. 0 Mp's....

    And a party that just a few elections ago still ran under a platform of "We will govern to make Canada greener".

    A nice platitude. For a lobby group. But not a political platform for an election.

    So tell me why it is that you think a lobby group, who has elected no MP's ever, should be the recipient of almost 2 million a year in funding under the elections act?


    "Of course, that is the last thing the CPC or LPC want."

    Of course some of us are just against wasting money....

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  42. "Of course, that is the last thing the CPC or LPC want."

    I am sure that the 10.4 million the tories get, the 7.3 million the liberals get, the 5 million the ndp get, and the 2.8 mill the Bloc gets will get one or more of them to keep supporting the system. Whether some of it goes to the riding level or not.

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  43. Ah, the old 'Greens haven't won yet' argument. An old strawman that the big parties love to death.

    Right now our system strongly rewards regionalism. Reform grew fast thanks to a killer base in Alberta. The Bloc has only one focus, Quebec. The NDP has pockets where it can easily win as well.

    The Greens are in a similar situation to the old PC party in the 1993 election. Lots of support across the country, but it isn't lucky enough to have 20k of them in just one riding.

    In 1993 the PC's had over 2 million votes and got just 2 seats. With 300,000 fewer votes the BQ got 54 seats. With 17% more votes the Reform party got 52 seats. Heck, with less than half the votes the NDP got 9 seats. That is just insane and extremely undemocratic.

    In 2008 the Green party had almost the same number of votes as the NDP did in 1993 but got 0 seats. The BQ with over a million fewer votes than the NDP received 22 more seats. THAT is what our current system rewards, those who can appeal to as region a base as possible. Any logical non-fptp system would never have let the Bloc become the dominate force it is in Ottawa.

    But still, lets keep pointing out how the Greens don't have a regional message, but instead one that has support everywhere. Might actually help if people can get away from the silly notion that a vote for anyone other than the CPC or LPC is a waste.

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  44. Ah, the old 'Greens haven't won yet' argument. An old strawman that the big parties love to death.


    Arguably the same reason the small parties want the PR system you are talking about.


    "I haven't won yet.... The system is therefore wrong, and should be changed to advantage me instead of someone else."

    The old entitlement argument. Or is it "No child left behind" now?? We aren't in Elementary school anymore. You don't get a gold medal just for showing up.

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