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This article was published 7/4/2009 (3056 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Just like the Tory opposition, the Doer government is giving back more than $200,000 in taxpayers' money earmarked for political parties this year.
"We're not taking it," said Justice Minister Dave Chomiak, who is also the NDP's house leader. "It's not in the budget."
The money -- about $250,000 for the NDP and $200,000 for the Tories -- is part of new legislation that gives parties $1.25 for every vote they glean. Supporters say public financing of political parties helps level the playing field and improve the quality of debate, but the Tories call the measure a "vote tax" that funnels extra cash to the ruling NDP.
Premier Gary Doer hinted last fall he wouldn't take the subsidy, citing tough budgetary times. Annual party financing documents were quietly filed late last month with Elections Manitoba that confirmed it. The Liberals are the only major party to take their share of the subsidy, which amounts to about $68,000.
The NDP's backtracking fuelled Tory Leader Hugh McFadyen's demands for the so-called vote tax to be repealed.
"If that's the path they're taking now, they should go a step further and acknowledge that if it's wrong this year, then it's wrong next year and every year after that," McFadyen said Tuesday following Question Period.
Chomiak wouldn't say whether the NDP will take the $250,000 it is owed next year.
"We'll take it one year at a time," said Chomiak, adding that new amendments to election financing rules are coming, likely this session.
Those amendments will make it tougher for elected officials to use tax money to send out partisan flyers like the ones favoured by the federal and provincial Tories. But it's not clear whether the legislation will tweak or roll back the party subsidy rules.
Meanwhile, it's clear the NDP aren't strapped for cash, even though the Tories out-fundraised them last year.
According to annual financial statements filed with Elections Manitoba late last month, the NDP was sitting on a $312,000 surplus at the close of 2008. The Tories are barely in the black. They wiped out a 2007 deficit, but had only $810 to spare at the end of 2008. That includes the value of their headquarters at 23 Kennedy St. and a $76,000 loan that's outstanding.
But the party still raised nearly $100,000 more than the NDP last year, just as it has for the last several years. Nearly $835,000 rolled in from individual donations and fundraisers.
In an effort to rebuilt the party after their 2007 defeat, the Tories spent a lot more on advertising and fundraising events. The NDP spent about $559,000 running their operation, and the Tories spent $858,000.
- What they spent: $559,116
- What they raised from donations: $722,502
- Their surplus: $312,390, including nearly $200,000 carried over from 2007
- Notable donors besides union leaders and NDP politicians: Canadian Museum for Human Rights campaign chairwoman Gail Asper, $613; Canad Inns President Leo Ledohowski, $1,875; Manitoba Liquor Control Commission Chairwoman Carmen Neufeld, $1,914; Ladco’s Borger family $9,950.
- What they spent: $858,056
- What they raised from donations: $834,710
- Their surplus: $810, including a $76,016 loan
- Notable donors besides Tory politicians: Gail Asper, $938: Shelter Canadian Properties President Arni Thorsteinson, $750: Ladco’s Borger family, $8,425.
- What they spent: $126,884
- What they raised: $136,546
- Their surplus: $34,028, including $19,885 carried over from 2007
- Notable donors besides Liberal politicians: Funeral company owner Neil Bardal, $500; Gail Asper, $1,150; Ladco President Alan Borger, $250.