Dwindling Democracy: The End Of Public Campaign Financing

flickr.com Stephen Harper
flickr.com Stephen Harper

On the first of April this year, a fundamental shift in Canada’s democracy will be complete.

The per-vote-subsidies federal political parties have received since the Liberal government of Jean Chretien in 2004 will be eliminated on this day. The subsidy—in 2011 valued at $2.03 per year per vote—has been gradually lowered by $.51 each April 1st since 2012 as part of the 2011 Conservative budget. The significance of this may seem unclear; but let me assure you, this is a political coup d’etat designed to upend one of the world’s most progressive electoral finance policies and preserve Tory power.

The measure places all burden of campaign funding on private donors. This means that political parties will need to focus heavily on fundraising to ensure they can campaign effectively. The most effective fundraising machine in the Canadian political landscape is the Conservative Party.

According to Elections Canada, the Conservatives raised $18.1 million from 80,135 contributors in 2013—nearly $7 million more cash and nearly 9000 more contributors than the Liberal Party, their nearest competitors. The Conservatives average donation sits at just over $225 while the Liberals sit at just over $155.

This kind of fundraising domination is possible because the Conservatives represent the moneyed interests in our society. Tax cuts and credits, deregulation, and social programming cuts to fund lost revenues dominate their agenda. It is these interests who have money to burn on political campaigns. It is these interests who benefit most from the abolition of per-vote subsidies.

This is because the subsidies have always made up far less of the Conservative war chest than the other major parties. What the subsidies did was level the playing field to some extent; allowing parties to focus on issues important to constituents rather than pandering to the financial elite to fill their coffers. It also ensured parties would be compensated for their public support, rather than just the support of those with enough disposable income to contribute to political parties.

The Conservatives justified this move under the auspices of austerity. According to budget documents, eliminating the subsidies will save $30 million dollars per year. This may be true, but this amount is a tiny drop in a huge budget, one which included tax credits and cuts amounting to far more than this. Was this worth sabotaging a program that ensures a base level of equality in speech? I think not. Nor do I believe savings were the intent.

It is clear the Conservative Party knows they hold the balance of fundraising power. Just as they sought to marginalize populations who wouldn’t typically vote for them with Pierre Poilievre’s ill-fated voter identification legislation last year, they are seeking to silence millions of voters whose only choice for giving to their party of choice lies at the ballot box. By taking political capital from these people, they are striking a major blow to their political foes by choking financial resources needed to effectively campaign.

The near total lack of coverage of this issue since the 2011 budget measures is inexcusable. It is the duty of our media to constantly question our leaders and in leaving this issue out of editorial pages, they have failed. Political parties will be forced to resort to American-style retail politics, equality of speech will be eroded, and near-hegemonic power will be afforded to one political party.

If we refuse to act against these measures—at the ballot box and beyond—we are allowing the subversion of our democracy. It is a quiet, unassuming tyranny, but a tyranny nonetheless. Be aware of the implications and fight back with your words and votes in 2015.


Article by Mike Westwick

Connect with Mike on Twitter @westwick_m

The Royal Horoscope: January

Are you curious to find out what’s in store for you this month? Look no further…

Aquarius: January 20 – February 18

Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, Aquarius. The full moon on the 4th will help you to feel more comfortable with opening up and asking others for help. Once you ask for help, you will be ready for the New Year and a new you.

Pieces: February 19 – March 20

You are a very mellow person, Pieces, but you are not afraid to show your every emotion: good and bad. This will be no exception when Mars and Neptune meet on the 19th. Before then, try not to get flustered and aggravated when you get in a sticky situation between friends.

Aries: March 21 – April 19

January has many good things in store for you, Aries. The full moon on the 4th will bring you luck in the New Year. Your New Years resolution will be easy to achieve, as long as you stay patient, my ambitious Ram. This will bring you confidence as the Sun moves into Capricorn on the 20th.

Taurus: April 20 – May 20

You are a very private person Taurus—and you prefer to keep it that way—but you have been dying to get something off of your chest. Mars will help to give you courage to be open about your feelings towards a special someone until the 12th. Your ruling planet, Venus, is moving into Aquarius making this your powerhouse month for communication.

Gemini: May 21 – June 20

Gemini’s are always ready for anything. You expect the unexpected, which will be very important this month when the moon moves into Gemini on the 1st. You will be ready for anything and everything, making you the life of the party. It is important to keep this momentum as Mercury will try to slow you down on the 21st. 

Cancer: June 21 – July 22

Balance is a key aspect of a Cancer’s everyday life. When the full moon moves into Gemini on the 4th, you will feel rejuvenated and ready for the New Year. With your newfound peace of mind, you will be able to focus on developing new friendships and building on old ones. 

Leo: July 23 – August 22

The cosmos are aligning in your favour, Leo. The sun will help you focus on taking care of yourself this New Year—something that you have not done in a while. It is time to relax and look back on your year, while setting goals for the New Year. This reflection will bring you newfound knowledge about yourself when Venus is in Aquarius from the 3rd to the 27th.

Virgo: August 23 – September 22

You are a social and outgoing individual, Virgo. These traits will be enhanced when the sun moves into Aquarius on the 20th, making you very flexible and ready for a fresh start this New Year. With a fresh start comes a new opportunity to communicate and enhance your friend list.

Libra: September 23 – October 22

It is time for you to relax, Libra. It has been a very stressful year for you, but that is behind you now. Venus will bring you comfort this month, starting your year off with a good mindset. This feeling will be enhanced when Mars is in Aquarius on the 12th.

Scorpio: October 23- November 21

Luck is on your side this month, Scorpio. You can do anything and everything you want. This truth will bring you positive energy and enthusiasm starting on the 12th. Try to keep this energy as the sun moves into Aquarius and slows you down on the 20th.

Sagittarius: November 22 – December 21

Your family and friends are extremely important to you, Sagittarius. The moon is colliding with Gemini and is helping you to focus on your relationships. Mars will bring you the chance to spend more time with your loved ones until the 12th—use this time wisely.

Capricorn: December 22 – January 19 

It is very rare that you are at a loss for words, Capricorn. This month you will have to work on your communication skills when the sun is in Capricorn until the 20th. This practice will help you to rekindle with a blast from a past this New Year.


Horoscopes brought to you by BAPC’s resident “astrologist”, Kate Church.

Concert Review: Mother Mother

There is no question what happened at the Royal MacPherson theatre in downtown Victoria on December 10th. Mother Mother came home, and an exuberant homecoming it was.

The band is now referred to as a ‘Vancouver band’ in the music press; their rabid Island fan-base knows otherwise. Originally hailing from Quadra Island, this band found their legs in Victoria’s vibrant music scene and built a strong following here.

They are in the middle of a run of three sold out shows at the theatre. One show had to be added when the first two sold out in a matter of days. This is a massive achievement for any band, let alone one who doesn’t sell out venues this size in far larger cities.

Toronto band Ubiquitous Synergy Seekers (USS), kicked off the festivities with a frenetic energy that carried their entire forty-five minute set. Ash Buchholz may have provided the vocals, but the undisputed frontman of the group was turntablist, backup vocalist, tiger onesie-clad, human clusterfuck Jason Parsons. I mean this in a loving way—the dude was everywhere. During the band’s biggest hit Shipwreck he whipped the crowd into a frenzied dance party sing-a-long that had all the kids losing their minds—the high point of their set.

USS has always been an exercise in style over substance. The batshit craziness of their live sets compensate for a somewhat banal brand of song-writing accentuated by the stereotypically aggro, modern-rock styling of Bucholz’s vocals. That being said, if you want a band to get a room of people ready to rock, USS is definitely the opener for you.

With USS’s priming, the anticipation was palpable as the house lights went down and the roadies got to work setting the stage for the headliners. The room exploded as the band walked out under cover of shadows and the first notes of Have it Out reverberated through the theatre. Lead singer Ryan Guldemond need not have sung the lyrics, the crowd would’ve had that covered. The relentless, driving keyboard and guitar riffs of hit single Get out the Way followed seamlessly. “I’m not antisocial, I’m just tired of the people,” Guldemond laments during the bridge of that song. He and the band seemed anything but tired of these people dancing at their feet.

In presiding over the crowd, the band did not forget about their long-time fans. There were healthy doses of fan-favourites peppered amongst the new material. The pacing of this was fantastic and demonstrated the evolution of the band since Touch Up. The fact that the crowd sung about disliking life in a ‘dirty town’ with equivalent zeal as living in a monkey tree showed their fans had come along for that ride.

The undeniable highlight of the night came when backup vocalist and keyboardist Jasmin Parkin emerged from behind her instrument to deliver a rousing, soulful cover of Lana Del Rey’s Video Games. Her voice was breathtaking—you could almost see the crowd’s mouths collectively fall agape. Talented frontman Guldemond’s step back from the spotlight, while unexpected, was ultimately thrilling—the element of surprise only adding to the brilliance of the moment.

The show was not without its flaws. While the band seems to be gaining confidence in their technical prowess, there were certain moments where this manifested itself in overzealous instrumental wanking. This detracted from the tight structuring that the band is known for on their studio albums. While this diminished the impact of certain songs, it’s not as if they went all Phish on us.

Petty grievances aside, the show wound up just as it started. The crowd remained ecstatic through the encore. Guldemond stopped for a moment; seemingly making eye contact with everyone in the theatre, and said “All the drugs are right here in this room;” words of thanks the crowd enthusiastically accepted.

As the band dove into Simply Simple, their final song, friends and lovers embraced and sang along. “I just want it to unfold, simply simple,” the chorus goes. This ode to simplicity was a fitting end to the night; seldom is a homecoming as uncomplicated and triumphant as this.


 

By Mike Westwick

Mike is a founding editor of The Royal and a student in the Bachelor of Arts in Professional Communication program. 

Connect with him on Twitter @westwick_m

NYE: A Catalyst To Create An Effectual, Rewarding Life?

Think Big Dream Bigger

 

It’s New Year’s Eve and you’re making plans for the “special occasion”.

Would you rather attend an expensive, crowded soirée, only to find yourself regurgitating your party fare into a Porcelain God the next day, while worrying about what you might have said or done in the midst of your drunken stupor? Or, would you rather spend the night in a quiet and relaxing environment, determining how you want to live for the next 365 days, and then wake up feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to tackle the world?

Why do so many people choose the first option?

Is it to commemorate our ability to survive another year of living in a world full of violence, abuse, political corruption, poverty, injustice, and discrimination—to name a few? Or, is it just another excuse to let loose and blow off steam with friends?

Legendary journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote, Buy the ticket, take the ride.” If we are afraid to embrace positive people and experiences in our life, then we are actively choosing a “ride” of acceptance; we remain complacent with the unsatisfactory life that we have and believe we deserve. On the other hand, if we spend time with people we care about and set clear goals for ourselves, then we are more likely to achieve the “ride,” and life, that we truly desire. In short, we get back what we put in.

As the CEO of my life, I choose the latter.

Despite there being a lot of wrong in the world, I’ve decided to focus on what’s right, and more importantly, do what I can to create positive change through community work. Having overcome poverty and horrific trauma, I find it especially empowering to make a fresh start each year with a clear plan for success. Undoubtedly, my resilience, ambition, and ability to focus have played a significant role in any success that I have achieved over the years. However, I believe that my annual New Year’s Eve ritual has played a huge role in ensuring that my goals were aligned with the person I was at the time, and who I aspired to be.

So, while people are busy drinking and having fun, I spend quality time on my own on this momentous night, reflecting and journaling about the year that is drawing near, by documenting my successes, challenges, key learnings, and even regrets.

To create my SMART goals for the next twelve months, I ask myself the following important questions:

  • What do I want?
  • Why do I want it?
  • What possible barriers can get in my way?
  • What tools do I have to overcome these barriers?

This magical process is simple, really.

I create ambiance by filling a dimly lit room with a dozen candles and make space for my favorite pen and a beautiful new notebook, which is used to plan and curate my dreams that evening, and throughout the coming year.

If you haven’t guessed it, I LOVE New Year’s Eve because it’s an ideal time to reaffirm and reinvent myself. Sure, I can do this at any time of the year, but I find the symbolic freshness of embarking on a new year to be a great motivator for change. If we are fortunate to be already living the life that we truly want, it’s also the perfect time to celebrate and practice gratitude.

That, my friends, is why New Year’s Eve is the perfect impetus for embarking on a life-changing transformation!


Article by Christine Morrell
BAPC Distant Ed. Student