He Haunts Them Still

Elections Canada released its quarterly fundraising figures today, and it is pretty grim for the Libs. Following the established pattern, the Tories raised about $3.5 million from almost 34 000 donors, while the Liberals raised just over $900k from 9500 (!!!) donors. In short, the Liberals have still not figured out how to raise money since Jean Chretien introduced the “dumb as a bag of hammers” financing reforms.

Yes, Chretien screwed his party good, he did. Forget Gritlock… Chretien laid the groundwork for Torylock, a situation where the Liberals can’t even get it together to fight an election, let alone win one.

What is interesting about this the the role the sponsorship scandal in all of this. Historians will debate the wisdom or principle that underlay Paul Martin’s decision to call the Gomery inquiry. But it appears that Chretien’s own fears about the way the sponsorship fallout would tarnish his much-valued legacy played a major role in his decision to not only put a cap on political donations, but to ban corporate and union decisions as well.

Details to come in the morning, but here’s tomorrow’s debating point: Forget the “natural governing party”, Jean Chretien’s desire to preserve his own legacy has led, through many vectors, to the almost total disintegration of the Liberal Party of Canada as a truly national political party.

UPDATE: Here are the details. I don’t know about you, but I find this amazingly juicy:

The decision to outlaw corporate donations was pushed on Mr. Chrétien by Alex Himmelfarb, then clerk of the Privy Council.

The Liberal government had drafted one bill that set tighter limits on political donations and another that included donation limits and a ban on corporate and union contributions.

There was heated debate on the merits of both, but, at the end of the day, Mr. Himmelfarb’s position prevailed, largely because the bolder course was seen as a way to bolster Mr. Chrétien’s flagging reputation, tainted at the time by the sponsorship scandal