Manitoba’s Progressive Conservatives won’t be accepting "free" money again this year.
PC Leader Brian Pallister said today his party wants nothing to do an NDP-inspired political party subsidy the Tories call the "vote tax."
"We’re not willing to take money from Manitobans who don’t chose to support us," he said. "It’s not up to the public to subsidize political parties that are unwilling to go and raise their own money. That to me is what the ‘vote tax’ is all about. It’s a subsidy for laziness."
In 2008, the NDP government under former premier Gary Doer created a taxpayer subsidy, for operating and administrative support for major political parties, to help them cope with the financial hit from an earlier ban on corporate and union donations. Each registered party was allowed to apply annually for a government allowance of $1.25 for each vote it received in the last general election, to a maximum of $250,000.
However, the Tories immediately balked at the payment and have never accepted it.
The NDP hired political scientist Paul Thomas about two years ago to recommend a way for the subsidy to be more palatable for all parties, however the Tories refused to discuss it with him.
Thomas recommended the parties divvy up a $600,000 pot annually based on the number of candidates they endorsed in the last provincial election and the number of votes they received in the past two elections.
Last year, under his formula, the NDP was entitled to $278,811 per year, the Progressive Conservatives $242,712, the Liberals $63,255, the Greens $14,449 and the Communists $773.
But the NDP responded that said Thomas’s plan was too rich, given the government's fiscal position. The NDP accepted its share, but placed it in a "non-interest trust account" until the government decided how much to trim from the overall subsidy.
The NDP later said the subsidy would be trimmed by 30 per cent. It meant they would receive $195,168 for 2012 instead of $278,811.
Pallister said he wants to know what the NDP intend to do for the past year, adding political parties should only be earning their keep through fundraising.
Pallister also said if the PCs win the next election in two years he would eliminate the subsidy.
"Political parties should be agents of the people, not agents of the state," he said. "They need to work for their support and they need to ask for their support. That’s the job of political parties."