The Need to Fund the Electoral Process and Not Political Parties —

One thing many Ontarians would be shocked to know is how much the political parties in the Legislature act to ensure their activities are funded by the state.

These parties unanimously amended the Election Finances Act in December 2016 to give themselves state funding to compensate for a ban on corporate and trade union political contributions and limits on contributions from individuals. Even before this, these parties made sure they were reimbursed for their 2014 election expenses to the tune of $2.1 million while their individual candidates received a total of $3.1 million.

The provision of state funding to political parties based on their performance in the previous election is patently unfair. It further destroys what is supposed to be a level playing field with everyone standing as equals in the exercise of their right to elect and to be elected. If state funds are to be provided to political parties and candidates, democratic principle would require all to be funded equally or none at all. To do otherwise only aggravates the crisis in the political system where fewer and fewer people consider themselves represented by the so-called major parties and their electioneering that blocks the people from participating in politics and decision-making.

Political parties should base their campaigns on funds raised solely by their own members, supporters and activities, not the public purse.

Instead of funding political parties and individual candidates, public funds should be used by a public authority entrusted with funding the process to provide the right to elect and be elected with a guarantee. This authority would guarantee the right to an informed vote and create conditions which permit the people to express their concerns and discuss solutions to problems. Candidates could then be selected by the electors from among their peers with the mandate to implement these solutions.

Under these conditions, a vote for an independent or small party candidate in this election can send a message that this status quo that disempowers the people is no longer acceptable.

Ontario Political Forum