Here's a letter to the editor I sent to the Globe and Mail in response to this editorial:
Your recent editorial on Canada’s election finance laws failed to mention their most obvious drawbacks.
These are the laws which impose artificial limits on how much money Canadians can donate to political parties and how much those political parties can spend during elections.
As such they infringe on free political expression; they confer an unfair advantage to incumbents and hurt smaller political parties; they almost guarantee candidates for a party’s leadership will face mountains of personal debt; and apparently they force political parties into undertaking questionable accounting practices.
In short, they undermine Canadian democracy.
That’s why instead of being revised, these campaign finance laws should be scrapped.
Friday, March 11, 2011
Campaign Finance Laws
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And only the rich and wealthy will rule, right MR. Nicholls.
I don't have a problem with spending limits, but I agree completely about donation limits. If some millionare wants to fund an entire campaign without a single donation, why in the world is it illegal?
So you're advocating a US-style free-for-all where campaigns can be financed by a few uber-wealthy individuals, corporations, and unions rather than from a broad base of popular support? You're getting redder every day... why not just make it official and buy a Liberal party membership?
Nice theory but I don't think the evidence is on your side. The problem with unlimited funding is that one large benefactor can hold undue sway in an election. Think of GE and its influence in getting Obama elected. One of the reasons the Liberals in Canada were so successful is that they could tap a number of crony corporations and swamp the other parties with advertising. Since Chretien decided to screw Martin the large donors have been eliminated and the Liberals are in a tailspin. In short which is more democratic. A thousand people donating a thousand dollars each or one company or union donating a million dollars?
All the previous posters are wrong. American study shows that there is actually no correlation between the amount spent and the success of a campaign. The only difference is that in a free system (which America, with myriad regulations on donors, doesn't have), there is a greater chance to round up the funds necessary to challenge an incumbent. I believe large business donations had much to do with the start of Reform. If the 'conservatives' here had their way, that would never have been.
It's certainly difficult to see the advantage of allowing large corporations or unions to control political decisions by making big donations.
The more parties rely on fair public financing and limited contributions by individual people, the better.
The free speech argument is absurd. Free speech rights are intended to allow people to have their say, equally, not to allow those with wealth to control political parties in the hopes of favours.
The recent US "corporations are persons" court decision was most unfortunate and contrary to common sense. Diane
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