Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION
Cost of democracy? $12 for every voter
Would you pay $12 for the right to vote?
If you pay taxes in Canada, you just did, whether you voted or not in the last federal election.
According to the official report from the Chief Electoral Officer Marc Mayrand, Canadians just spent $291 million for the 41st federal election that put Prime Minister Stephen Harper and the Conservatives into their coveted majority government.
— $144.4 million for the staff and operating costs in the 308 electoral districts (things like hiring returning officers, running the polls etc)
— $90.2 million for Elections Canada’s Ottawa headquarters to operate both during and for the lead-up to the election. That includes for example more than $16 million to keep the list of electors up to date, and advertising so Canadians know when and how to vote.
— $56.4 million to reimburse political parties and candidates who achieved the required vote percentage. (If you get more than 10 per cent of the vote in your riding as a candidate or a party gets more than 2 per cent of the vote nationally, they get some of their money spent to run their campaigns back from the taxpayer.)
It was, per elector, the cheapest of the last three elections — $12 for every man and woman on the voters’ lists compared with $12.08 and $12.13 in 2008 and 2006 respectively.
The 2006 election cost $279.7 million and the 2008 election cost $286.2 million.
Elections Canada spent less on the national office operations this time compared with the last two elections but more on support, staff and operations for the 308 riding offices.
Is it worth it?
There may be disputes about how much was spent where, but for $12 a voter we get democracy in Canada.
If you didn’t vote and you pay taxes, your $12 still went to the election, because the amount is per elector not per the number who actually voted.
Think about that perhaps the next time you think about not going to the polls. You may not think it’s worth anything, but would you chuck $12 out your car window for nothing?
-- Mia Rabson / The Capital Chronicles
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About Mia Rabson
Mia Rabson is a born and bred Winnipegger whose interest in politics seemed clear when she dressed up as Prime Minister Brian Mulroney for Halloween in the 7th grade.
Her interest in writing was no surprise to her parents, who learned early in Mia’s life that no piece of blank paper — or wall, for that matter — was safe in her hands.
She holds an honours BA in English from Queen’s University, a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario, and has completed a political journalism fellowship in Washington, D.C. with the Washington Centre for Politics and Journalism.
Prior to working for the Winnipeg Free Press, Mia briefly worked for the Detroit News in the paper’s Washington bureau.
Mia joined the Free Press team in February 2001, and in April 2001 was appointed to the Manitoba legislature bureau. In December 2004, she was appointed bureau chief at the legislature. She became the newspaper’s parliamentary bureau chief/national reporter in Ottawa in January 2008.
In 2008 she was nominated for a Michener Award with a team of reporters from the Free Press for its coverage of the province’s child welfare system.
She counts reliving the invasion at Dieppe, France, with veterans of the failed Second World War expedition and overcoming her fear of heights to touch the Golden Boy statue atop the Legislative Building among her favourite experiences as a reporter.
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