Musings —03.29.2016 10:15 AM—
A columnist at the Toronto Star is in high dudgeon, this morning, swinging his metaphorical sword about the supposedly grimy, grubby business of political fundraising. You can read it here, if you like.
My response is in the form of a question and answer.
Q: Mr. Columnist, who is the principal beneficiary of all the fundraising that political parties are forced to do?
A: Um, the media, of course.
Yes, the media. That’s where the vast majority of funds raised goes. Sometimes as much as 80 per cent of it.
To put a fine point on it, in case you are having difficulty believing it: the guy who is complaining is the same guy who is benefitting. Bit rich, that, eh?
Democratic ad buy guru Tobe Berkovitz confirmed this reality, in my book The War Room: “[Ad buy] is where most of your campaign’s money is going. If you do it efficiently, then it’s going to be good. But if you’re not doing it efficiently, then you’re going to end up wasting a fair amount of money.”
No doubt: Wynne had great messaging last time, Tim Hudak didn’t, and voters responded accordingly. But, equally, there is no doubt that the Star’s columnist is not being entirely honest with his readers, this morning: to wit, the Number One Beneficiary of all that grimy, grubby fundraising is him.
Premier Kathleen Wynne, I heard, put it best in a scrum she had about the issue this morning.
“Running campaigns, interacting in terms of advertising with the public, signs, all of it costs, costs money – and, most people can’t fund that process themselves. Nor would we, I think, want a system where only people wealthy enough to fund their own campaign could take part. So, that funding needs to come from somewhere…We made a decision as a society, a long time ago, that we wouldn’t fund political activity solely through tax dollars.”
Wynne went on to say that she is bringing forward some pretty comprehensive changes to Ontario’s political fundraising rules in the Fall. That’s good.
But, in the meantime, make no mistake: the reason why political parties – not just Wynne’s, all of them – spend so much time fundraising is because the media don’t give us air time, or space on the page, for free. They charge us plenty, and they almost always jack up their rates during election periods.
The fact that they are now complaining about that? Well…a bit hypocritical, isn’t it?