Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Public financing of political parties viewed as a good thing by Canadians

There's what Harper says:
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a televised interview conducted before Christmas that taxpayers are tired of funding parties.

"We believe ... at a time of economic difficulty, it is not right for political parties to be getting tens of millions of dollars in political subsidies," he said. "The Canadian public overwhelmingly supports that position."
And then there's reality:
But Robert MacDermid, a professor of political science at York University, said he doesn't know where Mr. Harper is getting his information.

Dr. MacDermid points to the 2006 Canadian Elections Study, funded in part by Elections Canada, which asked respondents whether political parties should get public funding. More than half of those surveyed had no opinion.

But, of those who did, 71 per cent said the public financing was a "good thing."

"This is the history of public finance for parties. Time and time again, in polls going back to the early '90s when the Royal Commission on Electoral Reform and Party Financing looked at this issue, Canadians have always said that they support public financing," Dr. MacDermid said.

"I can speculate that they think it's a way of ensuring fairness - so that the richest party doesn't always dominate the circus, which is a pretty persuasive argument."
As MacDermid suggests, the present model of public financing is well-grounded in significant research over the past twenty years. And when people are properly informed of the pros and cons, not manipulated by one-sided propaganda, they side in its favour. Something to keep in mind as the Conservatives now attempt to slash and burn what was a natural legislative development grounded in public opinion and research.