Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Political tax grab

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Sid Green makes an interesting case on the page opposite in urging Manitoba's Progressive Conservative Party to accept a taxpayer-funded political subsidy, even though he agrees the grant is fundamentally wrong. In Mr. Green's view, PC leader Brian Pallister is entitled to take advantage of the existing legislation, even if he intends to abolish it should his party form government after the next election.

There is also something to be said, however, for standing on principle, which is what Mr. Pallister has done by refusing to accept a single dime under the Election Financing Act, which would have entitled his party to roughly $200,000 last year alone.

This is the so-called voter tax that awards a set amount of cash to political parties based on the support they received in the previous election.

Former premier Gary Doer introduced the measure after abolishing corporate and union donations, which were considered by the NDP to be an improper way of financing elections.

If such financing is questionable, however, then the idea of compelling taxpayers to support political parties they oppose is even more dubious.

Mr. Pallister rightly says politicians should raise their own funds from people who truly support their policies.

The tax system already generously rebates election expenses to parties and candidates who meet a threshold of support at the polls. A tax that subsidizes parties for doing nothing, however, is offensive and voters should demand it be abolished.

Editorials are the consensus view of the Winnipeg Free Press’ editorial board, comprising Catherine Mitchell, David O’Brien, Shannon Sampert, and Paul Samyn.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 16, 2014 A8

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