The cost of apathy

In its first budget, the Conservative majority has made good on its promise to end the per-vote subsidy. A few Canadians have identified this as a kick at democracy and a chance to hobble the opposition. It could be.

In its first budget, the Conservative majority has made good on its promise to end the per-vote subsidy.

A few Canadians have identified this as a kick at democracy and a chance to hobble the opposition.

It could be. That depends on the nation … on you.

Today, it is simply not good enough for people to grouse about threats to democracy.

Talk is cheap. What are you going to do about it?

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty’s plan is to phase out the $2.04 per vote annual subsidy over several years, reducing it by 50 cents a year.

On September 30, $29.2 million will flow to the parties. That will be reduced by about $8.3 million the next year, and so on.

So, by 2015-16, the subsidy will be gone – right on the doorstep of the next election.

The end of the subsidy is unfortunate.

It was an elegantly simple way of funding the nation’s political system. You cast a vote for a political organization, you loaned it a bit of power and also handed it a $2 annual contribution for its expenses through the taxes you paid every year.

Now, parties are responsible for raising their own cash from supporters.

The Conservative party has created a sophisticated spreadsheet of its benefactors (just ask the hackers who stole that data earlier this week, making off with a dazzling amount of personal information from party donors), and it has proved pretty effective at regularly hitting them up for cash.

The other parties haven’t been as clever at selling themselves. That will now change – they will all be shilling for change and storing that personal data on hackable central databases.

Because, mounting an election campaign is expensive.

And while the Conservative party has no interest in raising taxes, its cancellation of the subsidy represents a user fee on democracy.

And now, if you’re interested in preserving it, you have to pay for it.

Accounting for the phasing out of the subsidy, your vote in the last election will give a total of $5 in federal money to the party of choice over the next four years.

To compensate the party for the money it would have received had the subsidy not been revoked, a voter should pony up an extra $5 by 2015-16.

And in the future, to guarantee a robust democracy, you will have to pay your favourite party a minimum of $2 a year between elections. That represents the minimum user fee.

Of course, it’s purely voluntary. You don’t have to pay, or do, anything.

While politics is a passion for a small percentage of Canadians, for most it’s an abstraction – something that generates more hostility and bother than tangible benefits.

And paying for it, while not expensive, just adds another niggle to your life.

It is just something else to do.

So your apathy in this is totally understandable.

In fact, it’s expected.

The Conservative Party of Canada is banking on it.

Just Posted

Teachers’ Association president placed on leave following ‘serious’ allegations

‘I’m going to let the membership decide what it is that they want to do about this’

Air North announces new flight to Victoria

‘We hope the new route helps families connect with families’

Whitehorse council squabbles over Robert Service Campground repairs

‘Is it going to be Disneyland or something?’

Closing arguments underway in Darryl Sheepway murder trial

Defence lawyers began closing submissions Dec. 7

Is the Yukon government reducing its emissions? Nobody knows

‘Before we go out and put out any data, I want to make sure that it’s reliable’

Celebrating 40 years of celebrating Yukon’s history

This year the Yukon Historical and Museums Association marks a major milestone

All about recalls

If your ride is subject to a recalll, take it in right away

Whitehorse tyke hockey program embraces half-ice setup

‘If they’re on half-ice, they get to touch the puck’

Yukon Men’s Basketball League expands in fourth season

‘Come playoff time, guys get a little more intense and the skill level increases’

The very long term view on commodity prices

A Long-Run Version of the Bank of Canada Commodity Price Index is as hot a title as it sounds

Appeal court hears case of Old Crow woman who says sentence unfairly factored in marijuana use

Lena Josie’s lawyer says she was denied discharge on assault because of unrelated marijuana use

Council of Yukon First Nations hosts training for Gladue report writing

CYFN hopes the training will be ongoing help build a reserve of Gladue writers in the Yukon

Imagine that: Yukon’s cannabis debate has been reasonable

Politicians here haven’t said anything blatantly insane, uninformed or stupid. That’s a win

Most Read