Media Release – What Saved the Bloc Quebecois in the 2008 Election: Public Money

Press Release, Taxation, Frontier Centre

Winnipeg/Calgary: The Frontier Centre today released its analysis of public financing for Canada’s federal political parties between 2000 and 2008. The backgrounder was based on Elections Canada data and also estimates for public financing as it applies to election reimbursements for the 2008 election.

The review found the following:

  • Public subsidies to political parties have increased dramatically since 2004 when existing subsidies were increased and a new annual “allowance” (paid in quarterly instalments) was enacted.
  • Since 2000 and to the end of 2008, taxpayer subsidies to political parties are estimated at $313 million with $290 million of that paid out since 2004.

    For the main four federal parties, the most dramatic finding may be that the Bloc Quebecois was in a weakened financial position in recent years but was rescued by public financing:

  • The Bloc Quebecois raised just $73,704 in the first six months of 2008 but received over $1.5 million in public financing.
  • For the 18-month period between January 1, 2007 and June 30, 2008, the Bloc raised just over half-a-million dollars but received almost $6 million in “allowances,”a figure that does not include what that party will receive in party and candidate reimbursements for the 2008 election campaign.
  • Since 2000, the Bloc is the party most dependent on public financing to survive, having received $31.8 million dollars in public financing compared to raising $5.7 million from individuals. For the Bloc, the ratio of public dollars to individually donated dollars is 5.6 to 1.

    The parties least dependent on public financing are the Conservatives and New Democrats, who have a public-to-private financing ratio 1.3 to 1 and 1.5 to 1 respectively.

  • Since 2004 legislative change to the Canada Elections Act, corporate and union donations have been disallowed. Thus, individual donations are critically important for political parties.
  • The trend lines reveal that since the mid-decade, the Bloc has garnered progressively fewer individual donations; individual donors dropped to 4,486 in 2007 and just 1,070 in the first six months of 2008. In contrast, throughout the decade, the Green party has attracted an increasing number of donors. In 2000, the Green party had only 690 individual donors, but increased that to 10,081 in 2007 and 7,915 in the first six months of 2008.

    “Whether one supports of opposes the use of tax dollars to fund political parties, an unintended consequence of public financing for political parties is that the Bloc Quebecois’ finances were greatly helped out by such schemes,” noted Mark Milke, author of the backgrounder and the Frontier Centre’s Director of Research.

    “Without federal financing, the separatist party would likely have been unable to mount a serious campaign in the 2008 election.”

    The full backgrounder can be viewed here on the Frontier Centre website:

    Click Here

    For more information, contact:

    Mark Milke
    Director of Research
    Frontier Centre Calgary
    403-230-2435 (Office)