The need to fund the democratic process not the parties

Parliamentary Budget Office’s free ride to the cartel parties: “an average of $780,000 of unaccounted funds per party, folks” | Anna Di Carlo

A major issue facing the polity and electorate is that the democratic process is not funded but the cartel parties are. Despite spending limits imposed on the parties and candidates and controls over contributions to political parties so that elections are not seen to be influenced by money and powerful interests, the trough of cartel party state subsidies is bottomless.

The five parties in the House of Commons — the cartel whose activities centre on keeping the people out of power — are entitled to have their election promises costed out by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). This is thanks to a Liberal-initiated law adopted in 2017.

A September 7 PBO tweet informed that it had received 100 costing requests from these parties. It said 75 had been returned to the parties and only 12 were publicly posted by that date. The Tweet explained, “we release these costing estimates on dates selected by the parties that placed the requests.”

In other words, the PBO not only costs the party platforms for free, it is also at the beck and call of the party strategists in their campaign roll-outs. As a result, the public posts increased on September 8 when the Conservatives asked to have 31 of their platform elements released a few hours before the French-language leaders’ debate.

How many employees are paid by the PBO to perform this “free” service for the cartel parties?

The PBO was created in December 2006 under the Harper Conservatives. The claim was that it would address criticisms about “the accuracy and credibility of the federal government’s fiscal projections and forecasting process” and concerns about “successive governments … overstating deficits and understating surpluses for political gain.” Thus, its original justification was to shore up the loss of government credibility. The expanded 2017 mandate provided by the Liberals gave the cartel parties access to the PBO’s services, thus by-passing spending limits as well as contributing to the fraud that election promises somehow provide a mandate which permits whatever party forms the government a legitimate claim to represent “the people.”

Far from restoring the credibility of party government, the PBO is another crisis-ridden measure which underscores the corruption inherent in what are called the liberal democratic institutions. It reveals the need for democratic renewal, not the truth about electoral promises!

The PBO, in its annual report, states that it has an annual budget of $7.3 million. Independent candidates (except those who are incumbents) and parties without representation in the House of Commons are not “entitled” to submit costing requests. For the 2019 election, the PBO reports that from June 24 to the October 20 vote, it priced out 216 requests from political parties, of which 115 were made public. It says that the PBO’s “limited resources” were divided equally among all the parties in the House.

It adds that this “notionally translated to approximately 2,600 hours of analyst time for each political party [my emphasis] during the 120-day costing period.” The PBO says it used personnel from Finance Canada, Employment and Social Development Canada, and Statistics Canada who “were able to furnish timely access to data and, in some cases, thoughtful analysis.”

Just imagine if the cartel parties had to pay KPMG or Deloitte for the “notional” 2,600 hours of number crunching, data and “thoughtful analysis” at the typical hourly rate of $300 plus. That is $780,000 per party. The provision of this publicly-funded service to the members of the cartel neither gets reported as an election expense, nor is it treated as a “contribution-in-kind” from the state.

So much for the farce of “spending limits” that are supposed to create a “free and fair” playing field when an election takes place!

This PBO arrangement is one more fact revealing how the cartel parties have become appendages of the state. At a time the credibility of the cartel party system of government is zip zero to nil, the PBO costing exercise is a hopeless effort to shore it up. While it seeks to provide election promises an air of legitimacy, it in fact reveals that the democratic institutions no longer function to serve the people in any way. Because the promises are costed, the people are supposed to think they mean something and that those who make them can be trusted because they can be held to account by the people.

That is a “notional” average of $780,000 of unaccounted funds per party, folks. If that does not point to the need for Democratic Renewal, we do not know what does.

In this election vote Marxist-Leninist and for independents and small parties which advocate Democratic Renewal and for whom Accountability Begins at Home!

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