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Axe the NDP's vote tax

Manitoba now has a 'vote tax'. Yes, just when you thought the NDP government had taxed everything, they have decided to tax us when we vote.

Colin Craig - May 22, 2008

The NDP government has introduced a bill that would give political parties $1.25 for each vote received in the 2007 provincial election. Considering that they're making the funding retroactive, it's kind of like betting on a sporting event after it has taken place.

As you can imagine, the losers in the whole "vote tax" scheme are the taxpayers of Manitoba whose tax dollars will involuntarily be used to hand $1 million to the NDP, $264,000 to the Liberals and $800,000 to the PC party over the next four years.

Before simply swallowing their jagged little pill, let's consider why the NDP government is introducing a vote tax. In 2000, the NDP government brought in a bill that banned corporate and union donations. While that notion may have sounded honourable to some, it didn't to the NDP Youth wing.

In a party newsletter from 2000, a member from the NDP Youth wrote of a December, 1999, closed-door party discussion about banning corporate and union donations. The young New Democrat described the proposed election changes as being motivated by a "screw the Tories" mentality. The author went on to describe Gary Doer as repeatedly "referring time and again to the amount of money the Tories stood to lose" by banning corporate donations and how the NDP could withstand not receiving union donations. So much for honourable intentions.

Well, eight years later, the joke seems to be on them. Although the NDP out-fundraised the Conservatives during the first five years after the "screw the Tories" legislation was passed, according to Elections Manitoba the Conservatives raised more money than the NDP during the last two years. In fact, last year alone the PCs out-fundraised the NDP, $2 million to $1.4 million.

Now you can see why alarm bells are going off in the NDP caucus office. Despite the "screw the Tories" legislation, the NDP is raising less than the PCs and we the taxpayers are expected to help them out. So much for politicians having to look voters square in the eye and ask for a voluntary donation.

Let's consider the tax dollars that political parties in Manitoba are already receiving. First, donors to political parties are given generous tax receipts for their contributions. For example, if you give a $100 donation to a political party, you'll get $75 back from the government at tax time. However, if you chose to donate $100 to a charity like the Humane Society, you would only get $15 back.

The other way political parties receive taxpayer support is through their expenses. Each election, political parties in Manitoba are reimbursed for 50% of their election expenses. Given all of their current tax support and the fact they raised almost $7 million over the last eight years, one has to wonder how much our politicians need?

Perhaps one of the most offensive aspects of the whole scheme is the fact that the NDP have pegged their $1.25 per vote funding scheme to inflation. By doing this, it's almost as if they're thumbing their nose at us, the taxpayers. You see, they still haven't adjusted income tax thresholds to inflation. The result is that Manitoba taxpayers are forced to pay millions of dollars each year in additional taxes. Nice to see they have their priorities straight.

Discuss this article online.

Colin Craig is the Manitoba director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

More articles by Colin Craig