Stephen Harper’s chutzpah. There’s nothing like it.

Remember his election-finance manouevre of some time ago, the one that stank the joint out, almost toppling his government?

It’s back. The Conservatives have confirmed that the measure, which would eliminate the per-vote subsidy that political parties receive, will be part of their next election platform.

It’s not such a dangerous time to reintroduce the plan. Still, one would think the prime minister wouldn’t want anyone, including members of his own party, to be reminded of it.

But he faces no challenge within the Conservatives. In popularity, he is running behind his party. According to the latest poll, his job approval rating is only 29 per cent. The party stands at 35 per cent. But there is no heir apparent, so this doesn’t matter.

What matters is Harper’s determination to cripple the Liberals. He sees cancelling public funding, which was included in his budget update package in November 2008, as one of the principal ways. Take away the subsidy and it gives his Tories a big advantage because they are much better at fundraising. For example, in 2009, according to Elections Canada, the Conservatives raised almost $18 million, the Liberals just more than $10 million. They were followed by the NDP with $4 million, the Greens with $1 million, and the Bloc with $834,000.

Money is key, not just at election time. Deep pockets allowed the Conservatives, among other things, to run effective attack ads against Stéphane Dion and Michael Ignatieff. The Grits didn’t have enough swag to respond in kind. Last fall, when they finally did have cash in the till, they ran ads featuring Ignatieff standing in front of a forest, mouthing platitudes.

The Tories don’t have to worry that the opposition parties will rush to form a coalition to block the funding measure this time. The Governor General wouldn’t turn power over to a coalition at this stage. There would have to be an election, one Harper would probably win.

Putting the funding measure in the campaign platform is the smart way to go about achieving the change. This way, the Tories can slip it in under the radar. It won’t be a major campaign issue and if it does come up, they can argue that in difficult economic times, the public should not be funding political parties.

Opposition parties argue that a return to private financing of parties opens the doors to all kinds of abuses, some of which are seen in the U.S. system. But it’s doubtful they would be complaining if they knew how to raise money like Harper and company.