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News Release

Democracy Watch Calls on All Federal Parties to Reach Agreement on Eliminating "10-Percenter" Mailings to Save More Than $10 Million

Board of Internal Economy
(BOIE) Must Have Consensus To Change Rules, And Should Hold Public Meetings To Discuss "10-Percenter" and All Issues

Monday, March 15, 2010

OTTAWA - Today, Democracy Watch called on all federal political parties to hold public Board of Internal Economy (BOIE) meetings to reach agreements on eliminating "10 Percenter" mailings, and all other issues, under the power of the BOIE.

"Secret, unrecorded meetings by the board that runs the House of Commons allows federal political parties to hide their opposition to changes that reduce waste such as eliminating 10-percenter mailings," said Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch, "Like any other government board, meetings of the Board of Internal Economy should only be held in secret when discussions about the management of Commons staff are taking place.  There is no other valid reason for a secret meeting of the BOIE or any other government board."

The BOIE provides the funds that allow MPs to send out as many times as they want annually so-called "10-percenters" -- mailings to as many voters in another riding equal to 10 percent of the voters in the MPs' own riding.  The content of the 10- percenters is not limited, and has been used in the past to promote various MP's parties and to criticize opposition parties.

The total cost of 10-percenters has almost doubled in the past four years to more than $10 million.

"If federal political parties or MPs want to criticize each other in mailings, their party or riding association should pay for it not the public, especially in these times of restraint," said Conacher. "The undemocratic and essentially unaccountable abuse of the mailings outweighs their purpose of informing voters, especially since mailings often contain completely false statements."

As well, because some parties have a higher percentage of MPs than percentage of votes received, and all their MPs can send out the 10-percenter mailings, the funds for the 10-percenters essentially cancel out the democratizing effect of the $1.95 per vote proportional public funding that, in part, has the effect of giving a financial boost to parties that don't elect as many MPs as they should given the percentage of votes they receive (To see details about the public funding of federal parties and MPs, click here).

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For more information, contact:
Duff Conacher, Coordinator of Democracy Watch
Tel: 613-241-5179

Democracy Watch's Voter Rights Campaign webpage

Democracy Watch's Money in Politics Campaign webpage


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