Press Release: Keep political party financing public

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Ottawa, ON: December 1, 2008 - Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) expressed strong concern over the federal government’s proposal to remove the $1.75 per vote subsidy for political parties.

In a letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, CPJ board co-chairs Kathy Vandergrift and Jim Joosse outlined their hesitations about this proposal. “We sincerely question the wisdom of such a policy, as it could weaken Canada’s democratic system and encourage voter apathy, which has already reached a worrisome 41% in the most recent election,” the letter said.

The letter went on to discuss the importance of enhancing, not discouraging, civic participation. “CPJ has long worked to increase citizen participation in public affairs...Activities that limit, constrain and even exclude Canadians from participation in the political process are not helpful.”

CPJ’s concerns have been echoed across the country, and today the government announced the plan to eliminate the subsidy will be debated at a later date, removing it from current legislation.

“While the government has dropped the proposal for the moment, its presence in the economic and fiscal statement is of concern,” said Joe Gunn, CPJ executive director. “Public subsidies give Canadians an added incentive to be part of the political process and vote for candidates whom they support, regardless of their chance of winning.

“With voter turnout at an all-time low, we should be more concerned with encouraging democracy and consulting Canadians on changes to the electoral system, not introducing controversial reforms.”

Citizens for Public Justice (CPJ) is a national organization that promotes public justice in Canada by shaping key policy debates through research and analysis, publishing and public dialogue. CPJ encourages citizens, leaders in society and governments to support policies and practices that reflect God’s call for love, justice and stewardship. www.cpj.ca

For more information, contact:
Joe Gunn, Executive Director
1-800-667-8046 x224

Chandra Pasma, Policy Analyst
1-800-667-8046 x223