Michael den Tandt writes that, if you're wondering why you keep getting those fund raising emails from political parties, blame Jean Chretien and Stephen Harper. Chretien brought in public financing for elections, but limited contributions. Harper eliminated public funding but kept the small contributions:
Chretien never intended for things to go in the direction they’ve gone. His reform, Bill C-24, limited corporate and union donations to $1,000. Corporations without operations in Canada were banned from giving, as were Crown corporations. Individuals were limited to contributing $1,000 to any riding or candidate, up to a total of $5,000. Any donation of more than $200 had to be disclosed. But C-24 also introduced the $2-per-vote subsidy, for any political party that managed to garner two per cent or more of the popular vote.
In 2006, in the full blush of its early puritan zeal, the new Harper government slashed the total individual limit to $1,000, indexed to inflation, and banned corporate and union donations outright. In 2008 Harper famously moved to wipe out the per-vote subsidy, precipitating the coalition-prorogation crisis, but was forced to recant. Following his majority win in 2011 he pressed ahead, resulting in the system we have now – no corporate or union donations, no per-vote subsidy, a $1,200 individual annual limit and endless, cadging emails begging for your money.
Harper's changes were meant to give his party an advantage -- and they did. The problem is that small donors tend to be angry donors. Now the other parties have copied the Conservative model and there are a lot more angry voters. Our politics is a lot meaner. And, as we are constantly bombarded with requests for money, we get meaner still.
What have we become? For starters, consider that Rob Ford is the mayor of Toronto.