I occasionally take a few minutes to read Tom Fletcher’s column, more out of morbid curiosity than in hopes of enlightenment and to see if he has stumbled on a thought that actually made sense and promoted it, or if he’s just stood up, brushed himself off, and carried on in his unique world. Alas, his Dec. 6 piece only served to curb any morbid curiosity for a while.
In a piece attacking the government’s move to limit the influence of big unions and big business on “the wild west of politics” as the New York Times declared , he argues that taxpayers, rather than private donors, will now be funding political parties. He failed to mention that if he contributes $400 to a political party in British Columbia, he gets $300 back when he files his taxes. That’s $300 that could (and in my opinion) should be taxed. If he contributed $400 to a registered charity, he would only get an amount reflecting his marginal tax rate back. Fletcher seems more than happy to see political parties benefit from people’s largess far more than the Terry Fox Foundation, B.C. Children’s Hospital or the Salvation Army. Furthermore, guess where the vast majority of the political contributions to political parties comes from? If you guessed the bottom half of the socio-economic spectrum, you are probably living in Tom’s world. If the government really wants the people’s will rather than the people’s wallets to determine who governs us, it would eliminate the current political contribution pork barrel, and fund politics entirely.
I also noted that in a piece primarily about electoral reform, Fletcher failed to mention “democracy” once. He did, however, refer to the Green Party as a “fringe party.” That fringe party got just under 17 per cent of the popular vote in the last election but has less than 3.5 per cent representation in the Legislature. He rails against Horgan potentially letting Metro Vancouver decide to change the voting system for all. He didn’t come out and suggest that a Metro Vancouver vote should be discounted against a vote in the hinterland, and he didn’t come out suggesting electoral reform be determined by a vote in the Legislature either. Seems, in spite of polls indicating most British Columbians want electoral reform, that Fletcher’s view is “it works in Tom’s world, so let’s just leave things be.”
Finally, we saw how far the established parties are prepared to go to hang on to the status quo when Justin Trudeau, after unequivocally declaring “the 2015 federal election would be the last Canadian election using first past the post,” shamelessly walked away from that promise. I’m no fan of the party system, but when I see John Horgan becoming a born again proportional representation advocate, I credit Andrew Weaver and the Green Party at least as much as the NDP.
Seems those “fringe parties” can actually play an important role in democracy by ensuring the will of the majority of British Columbians is heard.