Rules change for Manitoba political party allowances

Since 2008, every time a vote was cast in Manitoba, provincial political parties collected an allowance. Now, the way money is dished out to parties based on votes is going to change.

Party allowances capped at $600,000

Changes are coming to financial allowances for political parties in Manitoba. 1:45

Since 2008, every time a vote was cast in Manitoba, provincial political parties collected an allowance.

Now, the way money is dished out to parties based on votes is going to change.

In 2008, The Manitoba New Democratic Party introduced an allowance for political parties in the province.

For each vote, parties would receive $1.25, up to a maximum of $250,000.

At the time, the move was controversial and immediately rejected by Manitoba’s Conservative party.

The party refused to accept funds from what they dubbed "the vote tax."

The NDP and Conservative party have both refused the fund since its inception, and last year, the provincial government appointed a political scientist to review the allowance.

Paul Thomas, taught political studies at the University of Manitoba for more than 40 years, was made the provinces’ first allowance commissioner.

He issued new rules for administering the allowance on Tuesday.

Currently, the three smaller parties in Manitoba collect about $285,356 put together each year from the tax.

Now, the amount the province will administer will be capped at $600,000 for all parties.

Part of that will be a $100 flat payment for each candidate a party endorses.

Thomas calls it a "modest incentive to run parties throughout the province and that way give voters a choice to support third parties, perhaps."

The rest of the fund will be divided between parties based on their percentage of the vote.

"It won’t determine their fate. Their fate will be determined by how popular their ideas are, how well their leader communicates their ideas," said Thomas.

None of the money can go to advertising or polling. Instead it will go towards administrative expenses that parties have to provide receipts for before they can claim the money.

A representative for the NDP said the move was an attempt to level the political playing field for everyone in the province, and it hopes the new rules will provide a more transparent, fair way to fund the democratic process in Manitoba.

Manitoba Liberal Party leader Jon Gerrard lauded the plan Tuesday.

"This provides a balance in support for political parties to say that everybody in this province is going to be represented," said Gerrard.

Only four other provinces in Canada provide allowances to political parties. Federal parties also receive a per-vote subsidy, but the governing Conservatives are cutting that allowance gradually.

The Progressive Conservative Party of Manitoba says it will continue to refuse the allowance.

The move is in line with the national party’s stance on per-vote subsidies. In 2011, the Conservative Party of Canada moved to end all party subsidies in the country.