Saturday, December 24, 2005

The Real Fiscal Imbalance

Everybody's talking about the fiscal imbalance between the surplus-running federal government and the deficit-ridden, debt-laden provinces. (Except Alberta, of course. Insert expressions of Ontario jealousy here.)

Even Paul Martin's finally talking about it, if only to deny its existence.

But one fiscal imbalance Paul Martin won't talk about is that between the Liberals and the other major parties, as Shelia Copps gleefully reports:

According to Elections Canada, in their last annual filing, the Liberal Party of Canada was $34,818,257.32 in debt, by way of 13 bank loans. The Bloc Quebecois has more than $10 million in outstanding loans, mostly from the Caisse Desjardins. The NDP has several modest loans outstanding, totalling a little more than $3 million. The Conservatives are debt-free.

When I called the Chief Financial Officer of the Liberal Party, Lloyd Posno, he denied the party had a debt anywhere near $34.8 million, saying it was "impossible." He said the reporting mechanism for Elections Canada must be wrong, because he knew absolutely that the party's debt was much less than the amount cited on the website. He would not put a figure on the amount, saying that he was not authorized to speak publicly on money issues.

I then turned to Elections Canada, asking if they might have erred on the year-end financial statements they published for all political parties. They investigated my request and returned with a statement that the figures they published were completely accurate and were actually pursuant to the financial statements filed by each party.

If you review the published fundraising activities of the Liberal Party, they reported $1,702,974.83 in fundraising in the first quarter of 2005, which still left them $33 million in debt.


How typical of the Liberal Party to blatantly deny what anyone can find with ease on the public record.

But equally, how short-sighted of them to have passed campaign finance reforms to cut off most of the corporate and union money.

Perhaps they thought they could rely on the resources of government to make up the difference--like using civil servants for political research and putting their campaign volunteers back on the public payroll over the Christmas holidays--while starving the Tories and NDP.

They didn't count on ordinary party members to step up to the plate like this:

Donations and Contributions, 2004 Fiscal Year
Conservative: $12,907,357
Liberal: $6,085,121
New Democratic: $5,187,142

There is, of course, only one solution to rectify this fiscal imbalance: force the Tories to give the Grits some of those excess contributions from oil-rich Albertans. We need a National Political Party Program to ensure that Earnscliffe doesn't freeze in the dark!

3 comments:

Erik Sorenson said...

I have a slight problem with Sheila's figures:

http://www.thiscanada.com/2005/12/24/114-million-from-deadbeats/

It may be that she's working off better or newer figures, or that the Liberals quickly had an amended 2004 Return slipped onto Elections Canada's web site.

Of course $15.5 in loans outstanding isn't anything to shout about either, but somehow it doesn't have the cachet of, say, $34.8 million.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sorenson. 34 million is nothing if they win. 15 million is a lot if they lose.

freethinca said...

"When I called the Chief Financial Officer of the Liberal Party, Lloyd Posno, he denied the party had a debt anywhere near $34.8 million, saying it was "impossible." He said the reporting mechanism for Elections Canada must be wrong, because he knew absolutely that the party's debt was much less than the amount cited on the website."

Do you think that brown paper bags might be causing Liberals confusion still?