It was good last week to see more debate in broader circles around the ways we should be funding the political system in Canada, and possible reforms. Things got kicked-off by a column in the Globe and Mail from Jeffrey Simpson, where he largely echoed an argument I made earlier in favour of ending the per-vote subsidy but raising individual contribution limits:
If we want parties to be healthy, they need money to do their work. And if we don’t want public dollars to help them, then individuals should be encouraged to give what they can to fill in the public subsidy – which will mean raising the individual limit above $1,000.Alice Funke of The Pundit's Guide also weighed-in with her usual detailed statistical analysis, examining the dependency of each party on the subsidy and noting that rumours of the BQ's likely death without the subsidy are largely exaggerated:
That’s the fair tradeoff: End the public subsidy, all right, but raise the individual contribution limit.
The Bloc raises enough at the riding and candidate level each year alone to run fully funded campaigns after the candidate rebates, and yet it is able to win fully two-thirds of the province’s seats spending on average less than two-thirds of the limit in each constituency. Combining the riding-level surplus with its central fundraising would still allow that party to adequately finance its central campaign, after the central rebate is taken into account. We also know it costs significantly less to run a campaign across a single province in a single language than it does to run a national and bilingual one.It's good to see more detailed, substantive debate happening on an issue that, in the past, has largely been confined to the Conservatives threatening to pull the subsidy and then everyone speculating if the opposition will risk an election over it or not, instead of an examination of the merits of different funding regimes.