Thursday, July 09, 2009

Time To Curtail The Funding That Pays For The Conservative Untruths

There is a common root to the Conservative lies and "truth distortions"... It is the money that is disproportionately spent by political parties in Canada. It is the money that is - perhaps illegally - spent by some parties (one in particular). It is the taxpayer funded political ads run by one party (the 10%ers).

We recently posted in the "Musings from the Political Youth Corner" that there has to be a level playing field. The CFL, NHL, NFL, and NBA all have spending/salary caps. Why? So the teams compete on a level playing field. So there is no competitive advantage. So a new team coming into the league doesn't get turfed on its' butt because they are at a disadvantage to the older, more established teams...

Quite simply, Canadian political parties should be limited to how much they can spend on advertising in a given year. It must be carefully regulated, and it MUST include controls on thinly veiled partisan ads funded by taxpayers. It must curtail advertising in the "off season", or allow for a fixed yearly amount. Now, this amount may not be reachable by all parties, but it should be a reasonable amount. Excess funds should be utilized by the party for internal events (BBQs, meetings, conventions, etc.), to a certain limit/percentage, and the rest going into a "Building Canadian Democracy" Fund, which sustains the teaching of civics and Political Science in our schools, and subsidizes democratic exercises (like model Parliaments).

The root cause of the failure of many democracies is the failure of government to effectively represent the people. The skewing and swaying of opinion, resulting from inordinately high spending by some parties, when others cannot do the same, DOES sway opinion, and DOES unfairly impact elections. It must be stopped, for our democratic institutions to survive - and maintain some semblance of respect and integrity. One party should not be able to buy it's way into power. That simply sustains the rich - and related interest groups.

Prime Minister Chretien (and our party) started Canada on the route to fairer elections. Unfortunately "loopholes" and VERY generous interpretations of the rules have allowed anyone with money to circumvent our democratic process. This is WRONG and MUST be challenged.

This current minority Parliament enables the majority of the House to speak for the people of Canada. We MUST take this opportunity - not to defeat this government, or to keep them afloat - but to ensure that democracy in Canada continues to work, and remains on an even-handed and fair level for all parties. If not, we're destined to the same horrible "2 parties, one opinion" politics of the USA. We like to think that people are informed, intelligent, and prepared to vote, but most of us, who have knocked a lot of doors in our lives realize that this simply isn't always true. What the media says will impact a LOT of people's choices, and that media opinion (in the "private realm") is typically bought and paid for.

The time to act is NOW. In THIS Parliament. Anyone who opposes the idea would be looked on as "undemocratic", and this would certainly help assauge the recent barbs the Reform-a-tories have shot out about the "undemocratic opposition parties/coalitions, etc."

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WesternGrit said...

Image linked from the International Endowment For Democracy.

foottothefire said...

What is most outrageous is the amount spending has grown to under Harperites.
It's somewhere over 60 million, isn't it, up from 43 million at last count.

Northern PoV said...

Good idea ... here are mine (some borrowed from elsewhere):

Steps to a real democracy:
1) Ban all political polling. Polling has morphed into another tool to manufacture consent. The worst ones are blatant push polls and the more legit simply encourage dishonesty from all parties.
A baby step in this direction would be to ban political polling during the writ period.
2) Yes ban all political advertising outside of the writ period. Baby step would be to include all monies spent in three months prior to the writ drop as part of the writ period cap.
3) Abolish the free 10%er mailings.
4) Make all gov't "public-info" advertising subject to an independent review process.

WesternGrit said...

Yes, NPoV, I really like that additional one: the polling ban. Polls are definitely opinion shapers. Many people simply want to "support the winner". I can recall my elementary school years in Sask., where people in my classes used to "cheer for" the strongest parties and make fun of the kids who supported the weaklings... People typically don't want to stand out. If they don't know that the Greens are at 7%, they might just vote for them. If they don't have all the biased (and paid) propaganda coming at them, they might just start to think about their own situation, and vote accordingly.

Part of the reason people are "sick of politics", and there are reduced voting numbers, is that people are really tired of the deluge of partisan rhetoric, scandal reporting, and bombardment of ads they constantly see. They have no time to think for themselves, and they see the political advertising as evidence of the "sliminess" of politicians. As a result they stay home, or simply "tune out".

Giving people a reason to actually listen to politicians and compare and contrast would help start rebuilding faith in our system. It would also force politicians to do more "stump" speeches, and local visits, rather than running "shadow campaigns". Local politicos would actually have to face the voters in their riding, and work hard knocking doors and meeting groups, rather than avoiding them (as happens in many cases when the parties determine that their candidate shouldn't speak in public).

We sincerely hope that our party (and others) choose to adopt these ideas, as they are a perfect answer to the Conservatives' accusations of "opposition undemocratic coalitions"...