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Op/Ed – Canadian Taxpayers Federation – You are paying for B.C.’s political campaigns

Vancouver (Kris Sims is the B.C. Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation) – British Columbians who have their neighbourhoods littered with election signs and their mailboxes stuffed with campaign flyers should know that their tax dollars paid for that stuff.

Political parties are taking more than $16.4 million over four years in taxpayers’ money to run their election campaign offices and pay for attack ads.

It’s officially called the “per-vote subsidy,” but what it really amounts to is politician welfare.

Starting in 2017, the provincial government started mooching about $4 million per year from taxpayers and giving it to political parties.

To be clear: this money is not used for running Elections B.C. It does not pay for ballots, pencils, ads and voter registration services.

The money taken from taxpayers for politician welfare is exactly that: money used by politicians to try to convince you to vote for them. Your own political views don’t matter. If you are a staunch NDP supporter, your tax dollars still pay for B.C. Liberal election ads and vice versa.

But wait! There’s more!

After this 2020 provincial election, political parties can get half of their campaign expenses paid for by taxpayers, costing about $11 million.

What does $27 million look like in the real world? That $27 million could pay the salaries of 90 paramedics for five years. Instead, it’s being taken by politicians so they can spam up your inbox.

Political parties already get hefty taxpayer benefits via tax credits that are much higher than charities receive. In B.C., people receive a 75 per cent tax credit for the first $100 they donate to a provincial political party. That means if you donate $100 to a party you get a tax credit of $75.

If, however, you donate $100 to the Ronald McDonald House charity you would get a tax credit for $20.06.

It’s pretty difficult to justify giving political donations corresponding tax credits that are three or four times more lucrative than those given to charities that help parents stay near their hospitalized sick children.

Political parties already get subsidized by taxpayers and they are also fully capable of raising their own money by having ideas that people support, so why should taxpayers give them one smooth nickel?

The per-vote subsidy was a bad idea when then prime minister Jean Chretien brought it in at the federal level, and it’s an even worse idea now because we should know better. Former prime minister Stephen Harper scrapped the federal per-vote subsidy in 2008. In the end, the subsidy stopped and the sun kept rising.

If British Columbians have a hankering to donate their dough to political parties, they can do so. They can give it to the Communist Party of B.C. or the Wexit British Columbia Party or to any party in between. It’s one of the beauties of democracy. Forcing taxpayers to pay for parties they don’t support is definitively undemocratic.

If political parties need some money to run their campaigns, they can set up donation boxes at their meetings, they can raise money online by convincing people that their ideas are good, or they could host a telethon talent show so we can all be entertained while we decide if we want to send money.

It’s time to kick B.C. political parties off the taxpayer dole and immediately end the per-vote subsidy.

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