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Reports urges $600,000 cap for subsidizing provincial political parties

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A political scientist handed the task of creating a formula for subsidizing provincial political parties has released his report.

The report recommends that a $600,000 cap be placed on the total amount of money that can be distributed to Manitoba’s five registered political parties.

Paul Thomas, professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba, was given the job of devising a new method for funding political party expenses after the old party financing law became a political football. Neither the Conservatives nor the New Democrats have applied for funds available since 2008 under previous legislation. Last spring, the legislature passed a new law putting the thorny issue into the hands of an independent allowance commissioner – Thomas.

"The new allowance program has two components for deciding on the allowances for political parties," Thomas said in a press release. "There is a modest amount of $100 for every candidate the party endorses in a general election and an amount based on the average number of votes obtained by the party over the past two general elections."

After determining the candidate-based amount, the remainder of the available funds will be distributed to parties on a proportionate basis.

Based on the results of the past two elections, the NDP would be eligible for $278,811 in government funding per year while the Tories would qualify for $242,712 and the Liberals $63,255.

Thomas said the allowance can only be used by political parties for administrative and operating costs plus the expense of complying with government regulations. It cannot be used for partisan advertising and polling costs.

The NDP has touted such an allowance as being important to a functioning democracy, while the Progressive Conservatives have vowed to shun any such taxpayer subsidy.

 

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