My Endorsement for the 2015 Federal Election

This year there were a lot of interesting policies proposed in the election, including the Green’s Guaranteed Livable Income, the NDP’s $15 minimum wage, and the Liberal’s promise to review tax expenditures (seriously, I consider that important). However, I took the approach of deciding what my own top federal priorities were first, and then evaluating the party platforms on that basis.

(I’d like to note my strong support for the Guaranteed Livable Income policy, aka negative income tax, but I feel this is more appropriately a provincial policy. Despite that, it probably would have made my top 4 if it weren’t for the fact that somehow, the Conservatives have made basic issues of governance, democracy, and civil liberties important issues in this election.)

Governance and the Parliamentary System

Conservative: FAIL
– literally wrote a book on obstructing parliamentary committees
– Harper was found in contempt of Parliament for refusing to provide cost information about the F-35 program (recall that one of the main functions of Parliament is to approve government spending)
– prorogued Parliament twice to avoid embarrassment and/or confidence votes
– obstructed the work of the Parliamentary Budget Officer and Auditor General (PBO had to sue the government for information)
– centralized power in the Prime Minister’s Office
– passed omnibus budget bills far larger than those in the past, forcing through disparate and unpopular legislation without sufficient debate or reporting
– the non-answers of ministers during question period made it a joke even by Canadian standards
– refusing to appoint Senators, despite a constitutional requirement to do so
– essentially, the Conservatives don’t trust Parliament to oversee the executive

Liberal: PASS
– proposed a democratic renewal plan including government transparency, free votes, empowering Parliamentary committees, less prorogation, fewer omnibus bills

NDP: PASS
– propose an accountability act concerning Senate expenses and Conflict of Interest laws (yawn)
– making the Parliamentary Budget Officer more independent; creating a Parliamentary Science Officer

Green: PASS
– democratic renewal plan includes reducing power of PMO, increasing power of individual MPs, reducing unnecessary prorogation

Democracy and Electoral Reform

Conservative: FAIL
– passed the Fair Elections Act which makes it harder for marginalized citizens to vote (“voter suppression”), prevents Elections Canada from investigating electoral fraud, and makes local oversight of elections more partisan
– robo-calling electoral fraud in the 2011 election
– in-and-out campaign funding scandal in 2006 election
– campaign spending violations in 2008 election put Dean Del Mastro in jail (ironically, he was in charge of defending the Conservatives from allegations of electoral fraud)
– obstructed Elections Canada investigations of the above
– against proportional representation, and promised to pass a law requiring any changes in voting procedure to pass a referendum

Liberal: PASS
– promised to hold hearings on changing the voting system, and change it by 2019
– Trudeau opposes proportional representation, and the Liberals voted against the NDP bill in favour of it
– Trudeau favours a ranked ballot system, which is still a winner-take-all system like First Past the Post, though to be fair, it is still better than FPTP.

NDP: PASS
– promised to hold hearings on changing the voting system to Mixed Member Proportional, and implement it by 2019 (MMP is the system recommended by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004)
– put forward a motion before Parliament about MMP, which was defeated by the Conservatives and Liberals

Green: PASS
– promised to hold hearings on changing the voting system to a proportional representation system

Surveillance and Civil Liberties

Conservatives: FAIL
– passed Bill C-51, which expands CSIS’s domestic police powers without proper oversight and puts vague limits on speech (which the Conservatives themselves broke in their advertising)
– believe that Parliament should not oversee intelligence, because certain parties are themselves traitorous (“socialists and separatists”)
– repeatedly tried to pass internet surveillance and anti-privacy bills

Liberal: FAIL
– voted for Bill C-51; their original justification was because they didn’t want to look weak on terrorism
– to be fair, they did pass some useful amendments to the bill, and have promised to amend it if elected

NDP: PASS
– voted against Bill C-51, after a period of indecision
– promised to repeal it if elected

Green: PASS
– voted against Bill C-51, and opposed it immediately
– promised to repeal it if elected

Global Warming and the Environment

Conservatives: FAIL
– took an inefficient command-and-control approach to greenhouse regulations, which involves regulating them sector-by-sector
– set strict targets, but failed to implement stringent enough regulations to meet those targets
– did not regulate emissions from the oil and gas sector, either because oil prices were too high, or later, too low, and because the Americans hadn’t (although technically they had)
– withdrew from Kyoto, and obstructed international negotiations for future agreements
– demonize putting a price on carbon as “a tax on everything”, though that was their policy until 2007
– federal inaction has led provinces to implement their own policies, some of which have been effective at reducing emissions (BC carbon tax, Ontario phasing out coal), some of which have not (Alberta’s intensity based emissions caps), and some provinces have no policy to speak of
– overall Canadian emissions dropped during the economic crisis in 2008 and have risen in other years
– federal environmental regulations have been systematically dismantled, usually as part of omnibus budget bills

Liberal: FAIL
– promise to work with the provinces, similar to the Conservatives
– abandoned the Green Tax Shift of the Dion era after it was not politically successful
– Trudeau missed his first vote as leader (on surveillance) because he was in the US lobbying for the Keystone pipeline

NDP: PASS
– promise to implement a federal cap-and-trade framework (ie. an efficient market-based mechanism), with provinces able to substitute an equally effective program

Green: PASS
– promise to implement a federal carbon tax-and-dividend program (ie. an efficient market-based mechanism), which taxes carbon emissions and pays out the proceeds equally to individual Canadians
– they were the first party to promise carbon taxes as part of their platform

Summary

On the basis of their support for my core policies, I recommend the Greens and the NDP.

I’m going to vote strategically for one of these parties this year (ie. for one with a chance of winning the very close race in my riding). But I also endorse (and usually prefer) the idea of “sincere voting.”

Surprisingly, the Liberals did not do well on the basis of support for my core policies. I think that Trudeau’s nuanced and evidence-based approach to policy and open approach to criticism would make him a good prime minister. But somehow we ended up on opposite sides of important issues this time.

In my opinion, the Conservatives have been the worst government Canada has had in my lifetime. (I didn’t even mention the way they opposed bank regulation pre-2008 and stimulus post-2008, or how they secretly sold arms to Saudi Arabia.) I’m going to try to come up with something nice to say about them, too, though. I think they took a reasonable approach to health-care transfers to the provinces (linking them to the rate of GDP increase, with a floor of 3% annual increases). I know some people consider this a cut to funding, compared to the previous decade of 6% increases (ie. not an actual cut to funding, but a cut to the rate of increase). But those 6% increases were an attempt to fund improvements in certain metrics like wait times, which did not occur. There, I found one policy that wasn’t horrible. Don’t vote for them though.

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One Response to My Endorsement for the 2015 Federal Election

  1. Julie McLaren says:

    I’d like to ‘Like’ this but system doesn’t allow me to…..
    Your Mom

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