Saturday, 23 July 2011

Oops!

In an earlier post on campaign financing I made the mistake of using the Liberals of the 1990s as an example of how public finacing never really overcame the pull of wealthy donors. This occurred before many of the important elements of early 2000s campaign finance reforms were enacted, like heavy restrictions on corporate and union donations. A better example would be how, despite needing populist left support, the Dion Liberals campaigned for "Deep Corporate Tax Cuts".

My bad.

Despicable

Michael Coren, that is.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Prediction: PCs form Majority


Our Next Premier: I can just picture it now.

"Get out how here, you useless RHA family physicians
and nurses ... uh .... I mean bureaucrats! It's not
like healthcare agencies across the world
have administrative staff; they all
function on pixie dust! The Filmon
government proved that."
- Future McFadyen quote

Image Source: Canada.com
 Okay, let me start off by saying that I underestimated the Federal NDP last election, predicting that "Orange Crush" would die down by election day and that the Federal Liberals would remain in Opposition. We all know how that turned out - the Federal NDP formed the Official Opposition for the first time in the party's history and Canadian politics may very well be realigned for years to come.

Nevertheless, I still think I'm warranted in being pessimistic about the Manitoba NDP's chances. While getting an NHL team has temporarily spiked the Provincial NDP's poll numbers, this'll fizzle down by election day. Given the recent escalation in gang activity, the Tories will make hay with the crude yet effective tactic of painting the NDP as "soft on crime"*. Given the distorting First Past the Post system (which increased the NDP's majority in the legislature in 2007 despite a decline in their popular vote) I suspect the PCs will get a manufactured majority as blue Liberals switch over to McFadyen, not unlike what happened federally in Ontario.

This will, of course, be bad news for the province as McFadyen fully buys into this "deficit needs to be eliminated NOW" mantra. Austerity measures will be enacted and consumer demand will fall like leaves in fall.

ENDNOTE
*Ironically, the PCs may have a point. The Manitoba NDP hasn't dealt with social inequality in this province nearly enough, so of course social problems (like criminal activities) will be on the rise. Even more ironically, however, is that the demand-killing, equality ignoring Tories make things worse.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Sun Media: Power to the Wealthy Elites!

CORRECTION: In ENDNOTE **, I speak about how the Liberals never really overcame the pull of wealthy donors, even with a cap on donations. When writing this I failed to remember that many of the important, heavy restrictions on corporate and union donations didn't come into being until the early 2000s. - July 23, 2011

Well, I've been reading the July 10, 2011 edition of Winnipeg's biggest tabloid, the Winnipeg Sun*. On good ol' page 11 we have an ever so enlightening Sun Comment, "Au revoir to vote subsidies". The basic premise is that slashing vote subsidies is an a-okay idea. The reason? As substantive as most things written in it's UK inspiration and namesake, it goes...

As we argued here a year ago, and it was obviously clearly heard by the Harper Conservatives, the voter subsidy had to end the moment the Tories secured their majority.

And now it will end, by 2015.

The BQ's final quarterly cheque under the old scheme of $2-per-vote, and the last payment from the 2008 federal election, totalled $703,364.

That's a lot of cash to hand to traitors.

However, if it had to rely on party donations from the separatist faithful, as it soon will, the Bloc would have died out years ago.
Because public financing of campaigns aided a party many Canadians don't like, that proves it's a bad idea. That's it.

There's a few other lovely insinuations. The BQ is an incompetent fundraising entity and their supporters are stingy. What isn't dealt with is how working class much of the BQ's base was and, as such, how they were less likely to have the deep pockets of Harper's country club Conservative networks.

Which gets to the real problem. Parties base their policies to cater towards those who own them. In Canada, where votes directly lead to money, parties cater their policies more towards voters (a cap on contributions to parties also helps)**. With this connection severed, parties will become more distant from most voters and instead concentrate on a narrower slice of fundraising networks filled with upper middle class and affluent donors. This may be a dream come true for Harper's country club Conservatives, but it's a disaster that'll leave Canada's working class in the dust, politically speaking***.

As Thomas Ferguson would say (while describing the utterly dysfunctional state of American politics):

Fundamentally, the problem of money and politics is very simple: campaigning is costly, much more costly than classical democratic theory has acknowledged. Some way has to be found to pay for it. We may take it as an axiom that those who pay for the campaign will control it. So the choices boil down to just two: either we all pay a little, through public financing of campaigns, or a relative handful of the super-rich end up controlling the system because they pay for the campaign.
While a lower cap how on much parties can use during campaigns broadens influence, so that even middle class donors can have considerable sway, the problem still exists in Canada and will worsen thanks to Harper's destructive move, cheerlead by that trash tabloid known as the Sun.

ENDNOTES
*I read a complimentary copy; it'd really pain me to support that paper directly.
**Mind you, this system realy never completely overwhelmed the deep-pocketed donor pull. Throughout the 1990s the Liberal Party was still quite centre-right, with it's massive austerity program.
***Though a similar, perversely deep-pocket dominated system left America's working class in the dust financially as well.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Obligatory Jets Post

Well, I promised a Jets post over a month and haven't gotten to it. A lot's happened since the NHL approved the sale of the Atlanta Thrasher to Winnipeg. For starters, the appropriate renaming of said team as the Winnipeg Jets. The rapid sale of 13,000 season tickets as well.

I am a bit concerned over what this NHL euphoria will do to personal debt in Winnipeg, though. A lot of Winnipeggers want to support the team and live through the full experience by buying paraphernalia, concessions, and the like. While only 2.4% of Winnipeg's population will be at any given game*, this audience won't be exactly the same people at each game.

On a brighter note, Winnipeg still is in a better economic state than it was in the 1990s. So, hopefully, a broad swath of Winnipeg can support their NHL team without going too deep in debt.

ENDNOTE
*The MTS Centre Seating Capacity is 15,015. Winnipeg's population is 633,451.
 (15,015/633,451)*100 = 2.4