To the editor:
I am, first of all, a Canadian citizen who believes in democracy and the electoral process. I am also a taxpayer and conscious of how government spends my tax dollars.
In 2015, the Harper government created the longest election campaign in more than 100 years; back to a time when campaigns needed to be longer because everything was delayed by poor communication and transportation systems. That is not a problem that Mr. Harper and his government needs to deal with today. And yet he has decided to engage Canadians in an extended campaign. Why? Because new rules allow federal parties to spend more money during a longer campaign.
Previously, expenditures were capped regardless of the length of the campaign. But the Harper Conservatives introduced new rules to lift the spending ceiling on a per diem basis (just under $2,000 per day per candidate per riding). More days on the campaign trail means more money to legally spend—and the Conservatives have a lot of money to spend.
As a taxpayer I might not give a damn, unless I found out that I am paying for all this extra campaigning. And that is exactly the case.
Here’s an example:
If I contribute $400 to the political party of my choice in my riding, I can claim a tax credit of $300. This credit is paid by—the Canadian taxpayer.
Let’s assume the local candidate then spends that $400 on their election campaign. If they get at least 10 per cent of the vote, the national party then receives a 60 per cent rebate from—the Canadian taxpayer, meaning $240 of that $400 is rebated to the party.
As taxpayers we will be paying $540 of the original $400 donation—$300 back to the person making the initial donation and $240 to the political party. That’s a 35 per cent gain on the campaign investment paid for by—the Canadian taxpayer.
This is a big advantage for the Conservatives since it is generally wealthier Canadians—those more inclined to vote for the Conservative Party—who make the largest donations. In fact the Harper government is believed to have a war chest of over $20 million to spend on local campaigns—more than all other major parties combined. You might not be voting for him or his government, but in a very real way you’re funding Stephen Harper’s campaign.
Surely your tax dollars could be put to better use. On Oct.19, we can put an end to this deliberate assault on democracy and our electoral process. We can send a message that money won’t buy an election. On Oct. 19 make sure you vote. Make sure you vote strategically for change.
Steve Burke, West Kelowna
In the B.C. Interior the NDP are the lead opposition to the Conservatives. So a vote for change is best achieved by a vote for the NDP.
Steve Burke, West Kelowna