Friday, March 19, 2010

So Close Yet So Far

On Wednesday, Canadian taxpayers almost got rid of the "10 percenters".

Liberal MP Wayne Easter introduced a motion that would put an end to out-of-riding "10 percenters". The motion passed by the narrowest of margins, 140 to 137, and the matter is to be sent to the Board of Internal Economy for review. The Board of Internal Economy consists of the Commons Speaker (Chairman), Party Whips and House leaders from all 4 parties. The Liberal Party announced that they would immediately cease distribution of "10 percenters" outside MP's ridings and the NDP announced that they would abide by the decision of the Board.

The Conservatives voted against the motion. In Parliament, Stephen Harper then announced that "...the cancellation of the program is a good idea", completely contradicting the direction his party had voted. The Prime Minister's Office then announced that the vote was non-binding and that they would continue using the "10 percenter" program. Lastly, Dimitri Soudas, the PM's press secretary announced that Conservatives agreed that they would cease to send out-of-riding "10 percenters" if it applied to all parties and that that they would abide by the decision made by the Board of Internal Economy. The Conservatives then sent Pierre Poilievre (Conservative), the Prime Minister's Parliamentary Secretary (also known as Harper's lapdog), to debate with Joe Comartin (NDP) and Wayne Easter (Liberal) on CTV's Power Play. He agreed that the Conservatives would support the motion to cease "10 percenters" only if the Opposition Parties agreed to end the taxpayer subsidies to political parties.

I have no problem ending taxpayer subsidies to political parties but that is a discussion for another day. In this case, Parliament voted to pass the motion banning the fliers and no party has the authority to make an end-run around that decision. Once again, the Conservatives have shown how quickly they can flip-flop on an issue and how consistently they disregard the democratic processes of Parliament.

A bit of additional information - Conservative MPs averaged $49,680 in printing costs funded by taxpayers, NDP MPs averaged $33,825 and Liberal MPs averaged $18,500.


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