Feb 182011

The Prime Minister’s plan to end direct taxpayer subsidies to federal political parties—by which the parties already in the House get almost $30 million a year from taxpayers who may or may not want to subsidize them—is sound. It just doesn’t go far enough in correcting the basic error.

Thomas Jefferson said, “It is tyrannical to compel a man to pay for the promulgation of ideas with which he does not agree.” By that dictum, Canada’s funding of political parties is wildly tyrannical.

But it doesn’t have to be. We can both have public funding and end the tyranny. Here’s how:

Our income tax return forms should include a statement something like this: Two dollars of your taxes will be used to help support the democratic political process in Canada. You may designate which registered federal political party receives your $2. If no party is designated, your $2 will go into a non-partisan fund administered by Elections Canada, to teach students and immigrants how Canadian democracy works.

Under such a plan, the cost to taxpayers would be no more than it is now; but not a penny of any taxpayers’ money would be spent for the support of politicians whom s/he does not endorse.

An ancillary benefit would be that, without waiting for the next election, taxpayers could give politicians an annual “report card” on how well they are representing the electorate.

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