The Tories did the math: The new formula for the vote subsidy to political parties will put more taxpayer cash into the pockets of parties that accept it, effectively $1.37 per vote secured, 12 cents more than the previous allotment.
The Progressive Conservatives say they are not taking the subsidy. And neither should any other party.
The subsidy, larded on top of a combination of long-established reimbursements for candidate and party expenses and tax credits for donors, is simply wrong.
Paul Thomas, however, was allowed only to decide how to pay out a vote subsidy, not whether one should exist. The Selinger government last year appointed the “allowance commissioner” to rework the subsidy after it became politically risky for the NDP to accept the per vote payout they legislated in 2008. The Tories had refused to take the handout.
Indeed, the obvious argument against a subsidy is contained within the Thomas report, released last week. Since refusing the subsidy, the Tories and the NDP have been fundraising aggressively, it noted, such that neither party has seen a drop in revenues.
The old subsidy scheme paid parties $1.25 per vote earned, with a minimum payout of $600 — a reward for showing up that only the Communist Party was paid. The new scheme is more lucrative for all parties, including the NDP which got fewer votes than in 2007. Gone is the maximum $250,000 a party can claim, but the total pot to be shared is capped at $600,000.
This guaranteed return to parties is an unnecessary drain on provincial revenues.
» Versions of these editorials ran recently in the Winnipeg Free Press.