Budget due June 6 will phase out political subsidies
CTV.ca News Staff
Published Wednesday, May 25, 2011 10:09PM EDT
The government will table its post-election budget on June 6, a document that will implement the Conservatives' promise to phase out political subsidies.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty made the announcement Wednesday morning on Parliament Hill.
"On Monday, June 6 our government will reintroduce the next phase of Canada's economic action plan, a low tax plan for jobs and growth," Flaherty said.
The document will include several updates to reflect election promises, but Flaherty said the budget will be almost identical to the document that was unveiled prior to the election. The original budget died when the election writ was dropped, and never went to a vote in the House of Commons.
This time, with a majority government, the government has little to worry about.
"We haven't had that luxury in what, five years, more than five years?" said Flaherty.
That means the Conservatives are pushing forward with an election promise to end political subsidies.
"We will include phasing out the per-vote political party subsidy as according to what was set out in the platform...which was a phasing out," Flaherty said when asked by CTV's Ottawa Bureau Chief Robert Fife.
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton lashed out over the elimination of the political party subsidies, suggesting the move was damaging to democracy.
"Take away public financing and essentially what you are saying is those with the best ability to raise money get to have their ideas heard by Canadians and the rest are essentially silenced," Layton said Wednesday in Ottawa.
"I don't think that's helpful for a democratic society."
The subsidy had guaranteed about $2 per vote in funding for parties that received over 2 per cent of all votes in the previous election, or 5 per cent of the votes in electoral districts where they ran candidates.
The annual subsidy is a $27.4-million expense for the federal government, the Conservative platform noted.
Layton said the NDP would oppose the budget, but had little hope it would be defeated.
Alice Funke, a political analyst with punditsguide.ca, told CTV Power Play's Don Martin that the NDP are the big winners in the phasing out of the voting subsidies.
"The NDP will still get in the first year of Mr. Flaherty's plan more money than they got before the election based on the increased numbers of votes they got," she said. "The Conservatives will take a small hit, the Liberals, the Greens will take a hit as well."
Bob Rae, the new interim leader of the Liberal party, said the Liberals would have to work hard to raise funds from party supporters to compensate for the millions in lost revenue.
Rae questioned the move, saying many democratic countries provide public funds to their political parties.
"It's odd for me when you even look at our friends in the United States where there is a great deal of public financial support for presidential candidates," Rae said Wednesday.
"The notion that there's public support for the political process and for political parties is widely accepted in a great many democratic countries around the world."
The budget will also set aside $2.2 billion to fund an agreement the government hopes to reach with Quebec to create a Harmonized Sales Tax.
The March version of the Conservative budget was dubbed a "Low Tax Plan for Jobs and Growth."
A news release issued Wednesday said the budget was designed to do the following:
- Keep taxes low
- Making targeted investments to create jobs and growth
- Maintain transfer payments for provincial services like health care and education
- Control government spending and eliminate the deficit