Saturday, September 27, 2008

Is This The Best Election Money Will Buy???

Prime Minister Cretien did a LOT of working re-working election financing laws to try to make it fairer for all parties... to get to a better discourse on pure issues, and not just money... Unfortunately, we haven't evolved the system enough to focus on "just the issues" - just yet.

I posted these comments on James Curran's blog previously, but thought they bear repeating...

Unfortunately, when you have tons of money, you can "buy" a lot of votes with a slick media campaign... And you don't have to be honest about it, if you're a Harper Conservative.

This election is quickly becoming a matter of economics... Unfortunately it's not the Canadian economy that is being properly discussed and debated, but the political party economics vis-a-vis WHO has the money to run ads for 2 years straight (I still want to know if that is even legal - thought political ads were only allowed during the writ - that's the way it SHOULD be, if it isn't). We did a horrible job of fundraising, and while efforts have picked up since Spring, it's too little, and Harpo probably knew that when he called the snap election...

Going forward, we need to get everyone more involved in the fundraising part of politics. Unfortunately the Reform system of $5 in a tin cup from every western farmer and oil baron at every rally and stump speech - like a church collection plate - has been able to handle the new campaign financing laws the best...

We have to update our own fund-raising system - to ensure this doesn't happen again. We are on the path - probably only needed a few more months.

Sad reality, but these days parties need a lot of money to run a winning campaign. If Canada TRULY wants a fair system, we need to:

1) set limits that are attainable by ALL parties - during a finite "election period". Would love to bring the Greens and Dippers more into the debate - and have an equal playing field on which to voice their opinions.

2) eliminate 3rd party ads. Period.

3) eliminate government ads thinly veiled as "psa's".

Making these changes will allow parties to stop worrying too much about fancy fund-raising dinners. It will lower the cost of admission to party functions - ensuring a broader swath of the population joins or simply attends... The changes will ensure that parties can display their talents for using the same amount of resources to achieve an end result. Like a real-world test, parties would have to show how "good" they are with money - how well they budget and plan - rather than just who has the most motivated or angry supporters.

Some MPs and candidates already have the fund-raising right: they run "spaggheti dinners", or "hot-dog and a burger" fund-raisers. Fun stuff that allows a LOT of people to participate. Lose the ridiculous $500/plate dinners and other "champaigne fund-raisers". We don't need to "schmooze" those people anymore - because corporate donations have been minimized. What we need to do is reach out to the ordinary voter. A huge barbeque with 1000 guests at $10/pop will raise $10000, with very low levels of organizing, or you can do something that you have to plan and organize for months - with very little more profit... (fancy dinners at fancy venues cost a lot more to run).

A cheaper fund-raiser has the added benefit of attracting youth, and the types of people who will actually work in your future campaigns. Try getting your typical $500/hr Bay St. "executive-type" to work a campaign without a "position-name" attached to it... and do it on a daily basis through-out a campaign. Better yet - try to get them to plant lawn signs... lol... In campaigns I have managed, we would actually MAKE UP POSITIONS to satisfy the bigger egos out there. Of course you will also rarely get volunteers from your corporate donors - unless they have something to gain (perhaps running in a future election, etc.). If people are motivated, and driven by an issue, they will work for you.

If a progressive party is elected to government, we NEED to ensure we do this one thing - to change (once again) the rules as they relate to election financing - even if it takes a coalition to do this... If we fail, the future will be bleak - run by conservative corporate America, drubbing a repetetive message into a "dumbed down" population - fed a constant diet of sensationalized tabloid news, reality-TV, sitcoms, sports, and the associated sponsor advertising for everything from drugs to guns to defense contractors...


wilson said...

'the Reform system of $5 in a tin cup from every western farmer and oil baron at every rally and stump speech'

First the Reform had to have policies and initiatives that brought the people to the party.
Recall, referendums, reforming government, balanced budgets, debt paydown, anti hug-a-thug etc.

Liberals need to figure out what they stand for,
and that costs nothing but some time and thought.

Oldschool said...

Funny we see the same results for charities . . . conservatives support them . . . . liberals give very little.
The problem is liberals think the government should be giving to them . . . hence the so-called sponsorship scandal.
By the way . . . Harper and Cons on their way to another surplus . . . I hope he will reduce my taxes even more.
Had more tax relief in the last two years than in the previous 35 . . . fact!!!!

burpnrun said...

Change the rules to what? Let corporate and big union donors back in again at the liberal trough? No way, Jose.

Funny, the CPC and the NDP don't have a problem. Of course, they have supporters who want them and who put their money where their mouth is. Apparently, the Liberals don't.

You might also want to look into why it (reportedly) costs the Grits 50 cents to solicit each dollar of contributions. Got an internal Sponsorship scandal operation going on? That cost structure is abysmal and only one more indicator of LPC incompetence.

burlivespipe said...

Oldschool's amazing mental shortwave seems to be crackly. The biggest tax cuts came in 2002-04, in the Chretien-Martin budgets, but hey, we know Harperites are all about revisionism.
As to conservatives supporting charities while liberals don't, how can you document this? Where's your proof - are you suggesting the conservative party is the charity cause? My question is, having raised such amazing funds that go well beyond what they can spend, where are the good causes that the Harper party is supporting? Is it the 'bash Dion' charity, which kind of knocks one of the 10 commandments off the list, sort of like 'addressing hospital wait times' was amputated from his five 'priorities' (never mind how he manipulated a couple of the others)... As to fundraising and the liberal party, we do need to adapt quicker and we are seeing some progress. But as Wilson notes, we will need to reclaim our footing in the policy arena. I think Dion and team have done a very good job in generating policies worth consideration, however, the appearance that they were created in a vacuum (without enough work on salesmanship) has caused us some troubles. Along with the CONs 'go negative and lie' routine that is always good for a cheap sound byte.
We also need to let the voices from suburbia and rural Canada be heard and listened to.