June 23rd, 2018

What’s the real reason for leadership entry fees?

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on September 8, 2017.

All Albertans should be asking what the real purpose is of a $75,000 entry fee to run for leadership of the United Conservative Party and, for that matter, any political party.

It is being sold as a means of weeding out those that are not really serious but want the exposure, or a way to test the candidate’s ability to fundraise, indicating support for his/her as a candidate.

It looks suspiciously as though it is simply a means of raising funds for the party. Call it a tax on those running for office.

More and more we are seeing leadership races, the federal NDP leadership race and the recent Conservative leadership race for example, stretched over many, many months and in some cases almost a year.

All that time encourages more people to jump in and, of course, the more people you have in the race the more money the party makes. It is not only that required entry fee but all the party members that each candidate is expected to sign up that brings in the money. The more candidates the more competition there is to see how many party members you can sign up compared to the others in the race.

The longer all of this takes the more press releases and coverage in the media too.

It is obviously a win-win for the party and it could be said particularly for the UCP, whose coffers are low at the moment. In fact they are so low leadership candidate Doug Schweitzer made headlines a week ago for exposing that the party was running a deficit.

Quick way to fix that — increase the fee to run for leadership.

The more important aspect to this is what the voters think of it all. We are not talking the “grassroots” which today is considered the party members — the ordinary voter who may have no interest in joining a party but would like to feel there are people still worth voting for.

Perhaps these political races, leadership and provincial and federal elections have got a little out of hand. The money spent on campaigns far exceeds anything we have seen before — all requiring more money and more donations. Could that be detracting from the real focus?

Take a look at the entourage that some political candidates arrive with for a press conference. One communications person in many cases is no longer enough. Recently there were about five people setting up and tweaking every aspect of a politician’s press conference. It is unlikely they are paid staff for the campaign but they are jockeying for a position if that individual is successful. They are no doubt hoping to be the next chief of staff or communications director.

Locally we are looking at a municipal election in less than six weeks. The city is also in the midst of a project called ‘financially fit’. A major revamp of the public transit system was instituted this week to save $650,000 a year.

So perhaps what we need here is a high fee for each person running for office as a source of income for the city….

On the other hand, perhaps all political parties need to rethink the process they are currently using to raise money in the guise of an election.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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