Ontario’s Bill 2 (and other per-vote subsidy systems) represent politicians misusing their power.
Ontario’s Bill 2 was sold as making elections more transparent.
The legislation does do a few good things, such as banning corporate and union donations, and reducing donation limits, which reduces the influence that the elites can have on election campaigns.
If the legislation stopped there, it would be alright.
Unfortunately, it goes even further, and includes a per-vote allowance.
This gives political parties $2.26 for every vote they received in the previous general election.
While this obviously benefits the party in government and entrenches the power of the dominant parties, it also seems to present a conflict of interest.
After all, the money used for the per-vote subsidy is taken from taxpayers, meaning people are effectively being forced to donate to a political party, even if they oppose making a donation.
This means that politicians voted to use their power to make people give money to their parties, which indirectly benefits them and their political interests.
This is profoundly anti-democratic, and shows a serious level of disrespect for Ontario taxpayers. It also hurts smaller political parties, who are disadvantaged by the new system, as they have their donation limits lowered without being able to access the taxpayer funding (due to vote thresholds).
Per-vote subsidies damage democracy
Per-vote subsidies and massive donations from a few individuals create the same problem: They make political parties lazy and more elitist.
When a party can fund itself on either a few big donors, or automatic taxpayer money, they have less of an incentive to represent the views of voters. Instead of building a broad donor base of regular people, they can coast along on the residual money they get from past elections or a few special interests, becoming more and more detached from the needs of most citizens, and they can use well-funded ad campaigns to cover for their lack of real connection to voters.
While Bill 2 lowers the donation limit, it simply replaces that with automatic taxpayer money, which won’t make things any better.
There’s also a question of why the law allows politicians to vote for money to go their political parties without taxpayers having any say in it, which certainly seems like a conflict of interest – if not in legal terms, then certainly in common sense terms.
As a result, Ontario’s democracy is weakened by Bill 2, and once again the politicians are using taxpayers as nothing more than a piggybank.