I look forward to Jim Flaherty's June 6, 2011 budget and do hope it begins to end taxpayer funded subsidies to political parties. The current system costs us roughly $30-million a year and frankly serves as a crutch to a democratic system that should be vibrant enough to stand on its own.
If political parties want to be competitive and connect with the public they should be able to rise or fall on their own merit. Without guaranteed cash from the state innovation for survival purposes will force a clear-headed resolve to matter in the political market place. If nothing else, it could mean parties will have to reach out to more people to try to engage them and their wallets.
If what you are selling is worth buying the money will come.
The voter-as-customer is not a model that puts me off, though it does for some. Customers have a form of purchasing power, or agency if you have a socialist bent, that through the nature of their transaction can shape the direction of an organization. Sometimes the customer also becomes a shareholder or co-operative member, which adds further levels of oversight and management accountability requirements.
By all means make sure contribution guidelines and limits are uniform across the board as monopolies aren't always the best either. But let us stop using our public money to fund a partisan party system that should be competitive on its own.
Good luck to those political parties who are going to try to mount a defence for maintaining the status quo. Fund me to remain mediocre or keep me on the democratic dole because I can't do it on my own will no doubt inspire a nation to save the subsidy.
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