This year marks the end of Canada's per vote subsidy. For those who are unaware, the system worked like this: For every vote a party received in a federal election, that party received $2.04 per year for campaigning. This allowed parties to have a small pool of campaign dollars that they didn't have to go out and raise from the public.
Taxes go to pay for all kinds of things, it is not too much to ask that $2 of that money go to democracy itself and to ensuring that the party that represents your views is financially solvent. Ideally, elections should be completely socialized and free of financial contributions from anyone. Democracy should be about the will of the people, not the willingness of the people to spend. An election should be about who has the best ideas, not who can raise the most money.
The U.S. supreme court is wrong. Money is not the same thing as speech. Sure corporations and interest groups should have the right to make their views known. However, when they make their views known by giving large amounts of money to political candidates and office holders that is bribery, not free expression.
Stephen Harper never liked the per-vote subsidy largely because his party represents large industries and the very wealthy, two groups that have done very well under the Conservative regime. They also happen to be two groups with a lot of money to spend. The large pools of money, combined with other corrupt and anti-democratic practices are the only things that have kept the Harper Tories in power this long.
However, at some point this year we're going to have an election and whoever unseats Harper should put restoring democracy and increasing transparency at (or near) the top of the agenda. Minimizing the importance of donations should be a big part of that overhaul.
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