I read the headline of the editorial penned by Matthew Claxton in the June 24 edition of the Langley Advance Times and immediately did a double-take.
I don’t often agree with the opinion pieces that come from the editorial staff at the Advance Times, so when I saw the headline End the vote subsidy, I did a figurative jump for joy.
The per-vote subsidies are a horrific waste of taxpayer dollars. This year alone the BC NDP and the BC Liberals each will take in more than $1 million to be spent on campaigning. While the $3.26 million to be paid annually (five parties combined) may be a drop in the bucket in the overall provincial budget, I’m sure there are many non-profits doing quality work in our communities that would love to see a sniff of that funding.
Whatever benefits could be seen in the creation of this program do not outweigh the fact these dollars are taken from tax-paying British Columbians, who expect at the very least that those funds be allocated to serve their communities through healthcare, education, infrastructure, etc.
Claxton lays out that the recent changes banning corporate and union donations have eliminated any ethical reason to pay political parties vote subsidies. I would add the caveat that those changes actually have hurt transparency and democracy more than they’ve helped, which has been outline well by local political narrator Brad Richert (read up on it with an internet search for: Better Langley Lack of Transparency).
In the editorial Claxton states, “it means the party in power gets a baked-in fundraising advantage. It also shuts out insurgent parties.”
Giving Goliath an advantage over David isn’t what most British Columbians have in mind when they go to file their taxes – or cast their votes. Outside the NDP and the Liberals, few others were able to collect on this unethical program. The Green Party will receive almost $500,000. The BC Conservative Party reached one of the thresholds to qualify for a paltry $63,000.
The Keith MacIntyre, leader of the BC Libertarian Party, had this contribution to the B.C. Legislative Parliamentary hearing regarding these subsidies:
“As a party, we would have refused the subsidy. That said, we also believe that the annual allowances are discriminatory. Who is to say what votes are actually important and what votes aren’t. The 8,360 people that cast ballots for our party likely think that their votes matter, however, according to the Act we are not worthy of receiving the $14,630 that would have been provided to us if there were no percentage vote limits. Either give the vote subsidy to every party, or give it to none.
“I think if taxpayers knew that they are funding attack ads, they would oppose a per-vote subsidy.”
I hope that the editorial staff at the Advance Times will continue to be a defender of taxpaying British Columbians and keep calling out unethical political acts, as they have so rightfully done here.
Alex Joehl, Murraryville
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