While I agree with the fairness of the recent court decision:
On October 12, 2006, Ontario Superior Court Judge Ted Matlow declared as unconstitutional, the 2% threshold in the Canada Elections Act, required to receive the $1.75 per vote per year funding. In the decision, Judge Matlow wrote that the threshold violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The judge ordered the payments retroactive to January 1, 2004 to all parties that had not met the threshold as of January 1, 2004 when the new law took effect.I ask again, what do political parties do to receive public funds?
According to Judge Matlow [via Jim Harris' blog]:
Providing public funds to parties based on the number of votes received encourages individual voters to participate in elections. Having a threshold for providing electoral finances tells potential voters for candidates of smaller parties that their vote will not result in a subsidy of the parties of their choice. The quality and vigour of Canadian democracy suffers because such a threshold effectively discourages individuals who do not support one of the larger parties from participating in the electoral process.To Judge Matlow's argument here, I don't think people are voting based upon the fact that the political parties they are voting for are going to receive federal funding. I think it will certainly encourage the faithful base of the smaller parties to continue the fight to a certain point, but I don't think it's going to encourage more broad-based support for the electoral process.
Further [Globe & Mail, Electoral-law edict boosts small parties]:
He said that having an eligibility threshold "perverts" democracy by forcing small parties to make a tactical decision whether to target certain ridings in order to reach the percentage of the total vote they need to trigger the payments.Which is worse? A political party targeting a riding they have a chance of winning or getting more of a message out, or one that just runs to gain federal funding for a "non-deliverable" political message?
But, I do agree with the fairness of the decision. If Canadian political parties receive a federal subsidy, then all political parties should receive a subsidy regardless of their overall support nationally.
Tracy Parsons, leader of the Progressive Canadian Party, agrees with me [from the same Globe article]:
"We're thrilled," said Tracy Parsons, leader of the Progressive Canadian Party. "Another piece of democracy has been served. I can't say that I'm 100-per-cent in favour of tax dollars being used to fund political parties, but I'm certainly not in favour of them funding only select parties."Tags: canada, democratic reform, politics