Mark Milke of the Frontier Centre for Public Policy just put out a fascinating report on the state of campaign finance in Canada. What Saved The Bloc Québécois in the 2008 Election: Public Money contains a lot of interesting nuggets — but I thought the most interesting graph was the one above.
For each party, the blue bar represents dollars earned from public sources (specifically, from the $1.95-per-vote subsidy provided annually to parties by Elections Canada), while the grey bar indicates private donations. The shocker here is the Bloc Québécois, which received almost 12 times as much public financing as private financing in the 2007-2008 period. No other party even reaches the 3:1 level. (And in the case of the Conservatives, private-source financing actually exceeded public-source.)
It turns out that even that paltry $503,676 the Bloc was able to take in from private sources since January, 2007 overstates the party’s more recent fundraising ability: In the first six months of 2008 (the latest period for which exact stats are available), the party raised a pathetic $73,704. During that period, the Bloc got $1.5-million from Ottawa, meaning that in the run-up to the election, the party’s public/private funding ratio was more than 20:1.
How many seats did public financing buy the Bloc? It’s hard to say, but Milke seems more than justified in concluding generally that “Simply put, the Bloc’s fortunes in the recent election were rescued by public financing.”
It’s a surreal situation: Can anyone else think of another example — in any Western country — of a government assuming virtually 100% financial responsibility for an entity that seeks to destroy the nation itself?