Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Voter Subsidy is One of the Last Shreds of Democracy we Have Left

I posted over a year ago on the Harper government's secret plans to end voter subsidies. Secret because few in the media reported on it. But MP Steve Fletcher granted an interview to the Winnipeg Free Press, in which he revealed that he would be attempting to add more seats in rural areas and Alberta, hoping to create a neoconservative dynasty. And that he would be putting an end to voter subsidies.

And they are doing everything possible to make it difficult for Canadians to exercise their right to vote.

Voter subsidies were put in place by Jean Chretien, to replace corporate donations, as a result of protest, that the country's business elite was having far too much control over the politicians they financed. This amounts to less than two dollars for every vote cast, that went to the chosen party, enabling them to continue to operate.

The Conservatives don't need this, because corporate money flows to them through business financed think tanks and AstroTurf groups, like the Fraser Institute, the National Citizens Coalition and the Manning Centre for Democracy (started with a ten million dollar donation from one individual), and countless others.

Rightfully so, the opposition is fighting this, saying that it is a self-serving pursuit that hampers democracy.
In an interview with Postmedia News, Harper revealed that he would make ending the subsidies a key part of the Conservatives’ campaign platform. “A subsidy where parties make no effort to raise money is not acceptable, I don’t think, to Canadian taxpayers,” said the Prime Minister. Opponents to the subsidy cut say Harper is hampering other parties’ ability to raise funds outside of the private sector, giving the Tories a big advantage because of their ties to big business.
"Ties to big business"? Heck, they are big business. The only thing grassroots about them now is the grass they get on their expensive Italian leather shoes, when they leave the posh resorts where they are wined and dined for lucrative contracts.

Harper's former chief of staff, Guy Giorno was the top lobbyist for the oil industry. His new chief of staff, Nigel Wright, is a lobbyist for Lockheed Martin, who is sticking us with those damn F-35s, because no one else wants them.

They are being nicknamed the "flying brick" or "Thud” (the sound the plane made when it hit the ground after failing to clear a runway, a rather common occurrence), comparing them to similar used in Vietnam.

And Harper is saying that tax payers object to the few million that our democratic votes provide to our chosen parties. Where was he when we were objecting to his $60 billion in corporate tax cuts?

There was an excellent letter in the North Shore News, which said in part:
Harper wants to undo this, and it's obvious why. Reverting to a reliance on private donors is clearly most helpful to parties who serve the interests of wealthy individuals and organizations. The Tories certainly fit that description. Harper's plan has nothing to do with fairness to taxpayers and everything to do with giving his party an edge. It should be rejected.
This campaign strategy could backfire, because Harper has clearly set his party up as the best friend the corporate elite ever had. And his policies that have favoured Canada's wealthiest citizens, have been to the detriment of the average Canadian, including the 125 billion dollar bank bailout with no strings attached.

And using the enormously wealthy Don Cherry to make bombastic statements, denouncing us, is not getting rave reviews.

The Conservatives have all the money and are using it to act in our worst interests. And that will be the choice next election. Corporations or Canadians.

I know what my choice will be.

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