Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Should Subsidies to Canadian Federal Parties Be Cut?

     On of the issues that Harper campaigned on in the last election was the elimination of the $2 subsidy that the Canadian Government gives to registered parties every three months. This subsidy has been on the Conservative chopping block for years, but because of their minority government status, they were not able to cut it. Now, as they have recently gained a majority in the House of Commons, it is against an issue that has resurfaced, with the typical responses of the Liberal and NDP parties to keep the subsidy. Personally, through my research, I feel that the Conservative government is heading in the right direction with the elimination of this subsidy. The subsidy not only has negative effects, but it also weakens the democratic process.

     One criticism that has come from the Liberal, NDP, Bloc, and Green parties, has been that the elimination of the subsidy benefits the Conservative party and harms the other parties, because the Conservative party has a larger fundraising network. Though this might be the case, and Elections Canada data does show that the Conservatives have many more individual contributors, this is not a reason to fight against the elimination of these subsidies. In fact, the exact opposite is true. This shows that the other parties are out of touch with actual Canadians. If Canadians care about the political process or desire that they elect a government that represents their view, they should want to donate to the party themselves; the most energetic and devoted party followers are those who are directly tied to the party itself - mostly through direct financial contributions. Maybe that is one of the reasons why the CPC has a majority government, because they are directly tied financially and ideologically to those who have elected them.

     One of the negative effects of the party subsidy flows out of this concept of weakening the democratic process. When a party does not have an incentive to reach out to the voters themselves and plead with them for donations, they become less likely to care about what their voters care about politically. They can make their platform without reaching out and seeing what their electoral base wants or desires. These party subsidies increase the divide between the party and their followers, by not making the party directly dependent upon the followers themselves.

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