Purposeful is one of the words that can easily describe the Harper government. Whether it’s fighting the long gun registry or toying with a Quebec City arena, the Conservative Party under Stephen Harper is largely driven by its political or ideological agenda. Many times, what may seem like an odd political decision in the short term actually makes sense from a long-term perspective.
The concurrent focus on reforming party funding and corporate tax is a case in point. The timing and current focus on both initiatives possibly belays a longer-term strategic political goal for the Tories – to try to hamstring Liberal fundraising efforts in the future.
A review of the fundraising of the federal parties indicates that, although the Conservatives do well at fundraising, they primarily do better with smaller donations from individuals. Further, this broad-based approach to fundraising is higher cost. Their big dollar numbers, while significant, is not as colossal as some observers think once costs are factored in. This situation is reversed for the Liberals.
In terms of potential growth opportunities, for the Tories it is likely among larger individual donations while for the Liberals it is in smaller individual amounts.
Given this, the Tory noise on corporate tax cuts makes political sense beyond an ideological commitment to low taxes. By timing both at the same time, it sets the groundwork for Tory fundraising among businesses. This group could provide dollar amounts greater than the smaller individual donations which have been the bread and butter of the Conservative fundraising machine.
Cutting the current subsidies to parties will likely have surface appeal to many voters. With Canadians cool on subsidizing businesses, it shouldn’t be surprising that they are also cool to subsiding political parties. If the Tories manage to change the funding regime in the future, their current positioning sets the stage for them to increase their fundraising advantage.
Boxing in the federal Liberals as opponents of tax cuts to businesses makes fertile the ground for future Tory fundraising.
While it’s unlikely even the Conservatives want an election on tax cuts to corporations, one can imagine that by connecting the dots with party financing reform, they see larger political dividends in the future.
What do you think?
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