Is Corporate Money in Politics Making Us Poorer Than Canada?
Canadians are now officially earning more than Americans. Did this happen while we were too busy making fun of our neighbors to the north? Let’s take a closer look: the Canadian system of governance isn’t all that different from the American system:
These two former British colonies are both large nations that have federal systems in which national elections are regulated by the national government, but where state or provincial elections are regulated by those governments.
In both nations, political parties are not uniform across jurisdictions, and field candidates who compete in single member districts. Both have well-developed campaign finance regulations, and an independent agency to implement those regulations. Both have Courts that have sought to protect free expression by checking campaign finance regulations.
But where the Canadian and American governments differ is in the focus of their campaign finance regulations. The United States emphasizes the liberty of the individual in campaign contributions while Canada emphasizes equality in campaign finance. Take Canada’s campaign contribution limits:
There are contribution limits for individuals, corporations, and unions, and these are indexed to inflation. Spending limits are in effect for political parties, candidates, and “third parties” — non-party organizations that seek to influence election results.
According to the latest regulations, individual contributions in Canada are limited to $1,200 for a political party or candidate. The limit on election advertising by third parties is $188,250 compared to the unlimited amount of money that super PACs are allowed to raise and spend on American elections. Also different from the United States, corporations and trade unions are also banned from giving money to parties and candidates, and individual contributions exceeding $200 must be publically disclosed. Although corporations and trade unions can give money to third parties that run election advertisements, any contribution above $200 also has to be disclosed. Canadian law also states that political parties are entitled to free airtime on television and radio, which reduces pressure on these parties to scavenge for campaign contributions.
So how has Canada been doing with their campaign finance regulations that ensure equality? Clearly not too badly if their unemployment rate is lower than ours (at 7.2 percent) and the average Canadian is richer than the average American. But then again, I guess they are just losing slower than we are.