Neville given 90 days for new strategy

In an effort to create a new taxpayer subsidization system for funding political parties in Manitoba, the Selinger government has enlisted the help of William Neville, a University of Manitoba political scientist, to help come up with a new plan.

Neville was given the task on Sept. 14 and was given 90 days to come up with a new strategy.

The current tax subsidy in place was created by Gary Doer of the NDP party four years ago. This system entitled political parties to claim $1.25 per vote up to a maximum of $250,000.

This plan was created in response to a ban that was made previously, which blocked the use of corporate and union money being accepted and used by political parties to fund their campaigns.

However, various parties have refused to collect their subsidy, claiming instead that they saw the subsidy as a “vote tax” and did not want to partake in it.

One such party was the Conservatives, who refused their share, which resulted in the NDP also refusing their share.
As a result, the NDP has given up approximately $1 million over the last four years, and the conservatives have given up roughly $800,000 in the same time frame.

However, some of the smaller political parties have not been so reluctant to refuse their share. The Liberal Party has accepted $253,427, the Green party $29,529, and the Communist party $2,400, all over the past four years.

Neville, who along with being a senior political scientist at the University of Manitoba was also a member of Winnipeg’s city council for 10 years, says he hopes he will be able to gain the cooperation of all political parties while he attempts to come up with a better alternative.

“I don’t know that this will be less controversial than perhaps the other arrangement was, but I’m proceeding on the assumption that it is,” said Neville.

Not all political parties seem as eager as Neville in coming up with a better solution.

Brian Pallister, the leader of the Conservative party, has already made it known that he thinks this project is a waste of time and that he will not support or accept a taxpayer subsidization on behalf of the Conservatives.

According to Pallister, political parties should be required to gain money from supporters through their own means instead of being “lazy” and accepting a subsidy.

“A vote subsidy is simply a lazy levy that allows money to flow into political party coffers without politicians going out and engaging with voters and earning the support of Manitobans. Participation and financial contributions to a political party should be voluntary,” said Pallister.

Pallister also commented that by not gaining support through the interaction with voters Manitobans will feel disengaged from politics in Manitoba.

“We believe this proposal would further disengage Manitobans from the political process. Only a tired political party would support a proposal that would pick the pockets of hardworking Manitobans.”