I know that Tom Flanagan would like us to think that there is now enough distance between himself and Harper to be able to remark as a casual observer. Sadly for him though, many of us actually think, so we know better.
Just as election rumblings heat up again, oops!, there's Flanagan laying the groundwork and making the Libertarian case for his former boss, to eliminate public financing related to our elections. It also comes at a time when Steven Fletcher, the Minister charged with this file, is making noise about the same thing. Coincidence? Uh...no.
Let's take a quick look at Flanagan's claims, because, you know, he likes to leave out the facts.
The Conservative government nearly blew itself out of the water last November when it tried to cut off $27-million a year in federal allowances to political parties. Although polls showed the idea was popular with the public, the commentariat generally panned it as a low blow against competing parties, because they are more dependent on the subsidies than the Conservatives are.
Indeed the Conservatives shot themselves in the foot on this, but he makes the move sound almost altruistic, doesn't he? If not that, a kind of 'golly gee whiz' moment, where all Canadians supported the move but the evil media channeled the opposition parties moaning that they are so desperate for public funds, they couldn't possibly compete with the superior Conservatives.
Pulleze. A few things here. Indeed the Conservatives have been more successful at gaining donations from their base, but that is not what the opposition parties were reacting to.
You do remember don't you that there was this little thing called, the greatest recession since the Great Depression going on? Right? You're forgiven if you forgot, because gawd knows the government didn't believe it at the time. The opposition parties were looking for action, but instead, Harper used this time to push his agenda.
As for the public agreeing? Give me a break! A poll that asked a black and white question? No explanation was given to how this came into being and what it means. You know, shallow questions invite uneducated answers and often pollsters go out and prove just that.
The allowances were introduced in 2004, as part of Jean Chrétien's bill that eliminated corporate and labour contributions to parties while capping individual donations at $5,000. The allowances were supposed to compensate parties for revenue lost from corporate and labour union contributions. The screw was tightened further in 2007, when the cap for individual donations was reduced to $1,000, adjusted annually for inflation.
The insinuation here is, when you bring it back to the previous comment, is that the Conservatives were above all that. That they only received contributions in denominations of $5.00 and $10.00 standing in a line outside of Tim's. BS of course. That aside, Chretien should be lauded for bringing in reform, though I think the $1,100. cap was too low.
Flanagan goes on to suggest that we should model our system against the US. Colour me suprised! His argument is gentle and sounds almost reasonable, but you'll note that it's focused solely on the tax system. The Libertarian system that is all about, me, me, me...not us.
That is not at the root of public financing! It is designed to be a system that engages people to contribute to the party that espouses their ideas. It's known the world over as a democratic expression given to the people. Getting a tax credit for it is a perk, but it shouldn't, well in fact can't, be considered to be the only motivation.
Anyway, all of that to say, be on guard. If there is an election this Fall, this will be on the Conservative agenda and the spin will come faster than you can blink. You'll undoubtedly be told that your money is supporting the evil Bloc and therefore it must end!
Don't be spun. For our country at this point in time, the system we have makes sense. I'd like to see the contribution limit raised personally, but outside of that, this is yet another ploy to undermine and eliminate government and your participation at the same time.
Sad, but there is no longer any reason to guess what he's up to.