Tuesday, June 2, 2015

ELECTORAL FINANCE REFORM IS NEEDED

The deal cut by the Liberal Party of Newfoundland and Labrador that led to their bankers writing off nearly $400,000 in interest and penalties has rubbed a few people the wrong way.

Try and explain this to the sick, underemployed, unemployed person, or debt-ridden individual that is struggling to pay the bills - including interest on everything from pay day loans to credit cards. Why are the rules different for average citizens an some of our political masters. Are we not their masters? Imagine the state the economy would be in if we all decided we were no longer going to meet our total obligations - just the principals!

The write off is not a political donation and the beneficiaries say there is no tax benefit for the banks. Of course we all know for a business to write of nearly half-a-million in revenue, the share holders are going to want to be kept whole. The forgiven interest will be considered bad debt and used to assist the banks come tax time. The tax payer will foot the bill in a round-about way.

More directly, the banks will make up the loss in other ways. I found it somewhat ironic that the NDP is putting forth legislation in the House of Commons to practices such as charging for paper bills and for the adoption of a financial code of conduct to protect consumers.

The NDP want to stop the Banks form fleecing the little guy while writing off the debts of folks like the Liberal and PC parties. Predatory banking practices have allowed the banks to make incredible profits. The regulatory environment they work in is established by legislation - which is legislated by politicians. No conflict here.


Banks have been picked pocketing regular Canadians, aided an abetted by their "regulatory" friends for long enough. The boards of these banks are full of former influential politicos. No conflict there.

I am not suggesting anything untoward has happened but the status quo is not good enough.  Financing our electoral system not only has to be clean as a whistle, it must be perceived to be above board.

Politicians should lead by example. If they can not live within their means, than they should be treated as any other bankrupt entity. They should be have to provide a repayment plan to keep their status and if they fail to honour payment plan a decertification process should be initiated.

Better yet, lets throw unions and corporations out of the fundraising toolbox and level the democratic playing field by having the public fund parties directly. Banks, business, unions could still receive tax receipts for donations but the funds would be administered and dispersed equitably by a partisan commission.

Backroom deals to write off hundreds of thousands of dollars for political parties does not reflect transparency nor accountability and further creates distain for politicians, the high offices the hold and the institutions of fair democracy.



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