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UNIT 10 2013.docx

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Political Science
POLS 3440
Geoff Stevens

UNIT 10 DEMOCRACY AND POLITICAL FINANCING OBJECTIVESAfter completing this unit you should be able toassess the role for good or ill of money in political campaignsexplain the need for legislation to control fundraising and spendingidentify the principal features of Canadas election expenses laws as they have evolved over the past 30 yearsLECTURE Money is the mothers milk of politics Parties candidates riding associations and elected members could not survive for more than a day without it The struggle to regulate and police the flow of money in and out of the political system has preoccupied parliamentarians for decades There was a time when bagmen collectors and dispensers of political funds would travel the land often by train and frequently toting briefcases filled with banknotes At each stop the bagman would get off the train and meet his partys candidate and the candidates campaign manager An allotted amount of cash would be handed over to finance the local campaign Then the bagman would return to the train and head for the next riding where the ritual would be repeated Those days are long gone Auditors have replaced bagmen and cheques and electronic transfers have replaced cash And over the past 30 years a comprehensive and complicated system of rules and laws has been put in place to make campaign financing equitable transparent and as honest as humanly possible Yet abuses persist partly because the stakes are so high and the amounts involved in todays campaigns are so huge that temptation is never far away As Robert Williams points out in his book Party Finance and Political Corruption Whatever form political organization takes there is a common problem how to find sufficient financial resources to fund the activities the political organizations wish to pursue Competition between political parties divided on ideological economic social factional or ethnic lines depends on finance drives up the costs of campaigning and intensifies the search for additional or new income streams Money buys the access favours skills goods and services that are essential to effective party activityMoney compensates for a lack of volunteers and serves in some societies as a surrogate for individual commitment In short money is a transferable and convertible resource which helps mobilize support for and secures influence with political parties The role of money in politics especially in funding political parties has attracted much adverse attention in the past 20 yearsAt root there is the underlying concern that left unregulated the problems of party finance will intensify and either corrupt the entire political process or where such corruption is already entrenched will preclude its control and eradication
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