Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Harper is hindering democracy: Gerry Nicholls

Last week in a post about the Harper government’s decision to limit average Canadians right to donate to political parties to $1000, I referenced Harper’s old lobby group, the National Citizens Coalition, and its fight a few years back against caps on election spending by lobby.

Given that the NCC had said then that money=speech, I wondered why Harper favoured gagging average Canadians while giving lobby groups a bullhorn. I’m still wondering, but one thing I’m not wondering any longer is what Harper’s old friends at the NCC think about their old boss’ donation cap. Turns out they don’t think much of it at all.

In fact, in an article in the Globe and Mail in April, NCC vice-president Gerry Nicholls said it was bad for democracy. Here’s a quote:

…Prime Minister Stephen Harper should rethink his plan to limit political contributions. Either he should raise the limit or, preferably, scrap it altogether.

Mr. Harper certainly has a mandate to bring about change.

But the changes should help democracy, not hinder it.

Now, let me be clear I don’t agree with Gerry on everything in this piece. I believe in capping corporate donations. I believe in the per vote subsidy. And I don’t believe in unlimited personal donations, I thought $5400 was reasonable. I think though that he does make some good points on why capping personal donations to $1000 is wrong and likely ineffective, and I found the point about shutting-out new parties interesting. And since the NCC can hardly be called Liberal hacks I wanted to pass the article on.

We don't need limits on political contributions
Wed Apr 19 09:24:30 2006
NCC Articles
By: Gerry Nicholls / globeandmail.com

Not everything contained in the new Conservative government's recently introduced Accountability Act will make government more accountable.

For instance, the part of the act that would further limit the amount of money individuals can contribute to political parties won't make government better or honest. If anything, these limits will trample on individual rights and, ultimately, undermine our democratic system.


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