Taxpayers fund 95 per cent of Bloc's finances

Cash-for-votes scheme gives separatist party more than $700,000

Le BQ prépare sa rentrée

The Bloc Quebecois, whose main goal is to achieve Quebec sovereignty, is dependent on Canadian taxpayers for its national funding.
At least that's what recently released quarterly financial figures from Elections Canada seem to indicate, as the Bloc's headquarters only collected $27,566.96 in contributions between April 1 and June 30 this year while taking in $727,092 from the Canadian government.
Benefiting from the federal political financing law, which was brought in by former prime minister Jean Chretien, the Bloc and other federal political parties are receiving $1.75 for each vote garnered in the January election. Following a complicated formula, the parties are collecting about 44 cents a vote for the quarter from the treasury.
The revelation that more than 95 per cent of the sovereigntist party's finances come from federal coffers has even irked some separatists.
In a letter printed in La Presse yesterday, [Nestor Turcotte->1709] harshly denounced the Bloc for accepting the money.
"The Bloc Quebecois is opening itself to ridicule by being subsidized by the country that it wants to leave," he wrote.
"Its indecency scandalizes more than one observer of the political scene ... day by day, the Bloc has become the biggest joke on Parliament Hill," wrote Mr. Turcotte, described as a longtime separatist.
However, Bloc spokeswoman Catherine Bourgault-Poulin said the released figures were incomplete because they don't reveal the fundraising taking place in 75 Quebec ridings by the party's riding associations. She said the Bloc has made its riding associations independent of the national office and they're allowed to keep the money they raise during the year.
Unable to release the mid-year total in the ridings, Ms. Bourgault-Poulin estimated the total amount of fundraising, which will not be released by Elections Canada until the end of the year, will range in the millions of dollars.
Bloc leader Gilles Duceppe, who is attending his party's caucus retreat in the Eastern Townships, also told reporters the figures were misleading and the party receives the majority of its funding from supporters in the province.
The Bloc, which vows to leave Ottawa only once Quebec is a country, justifies its existence in the House of Commons by vowing to protect the interests of Quebec. The party says Quebecers pay federal taxes and it's simply collecting back its fair share.
But Mr. Turcotte dismissed this argument in his letter, saying taxes in general are meant to maintain the common good of the country.
"If Albertans had an independent party in Ottawa, subsidized by all Canadians and Quebecers didn't have a similar party in the central government, they would without doubt be the first to protest such an unnatural gesture," he wrote.
The list of recent quarterly allowances sent out by Elections Canada show the Conservatives will collect about $2.5 million as the top vote getter, while the Liberals take in about $2.1 million, the NDP $1.2 million and the Green party $310,867. Meanwhile, the Conservatives have raised about $4 million in the last quarter while the Grits have brought in about $1.2 million.
The summary of the Bloc Quebecois's finances also reveal contributions fell dramatically from January until the end of March, when it raised $147,855.

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