Friday, May 28, 2004

Liberals Slipping; NDP & Conservatives Gaining Momentum

The Canadian election campaign is underway and it looks like Paul Martin's Liberals are being threatened with minority-government status. A recent poll conducted by EKOS Research Associates (as reported by the Toronto Star) has placed Liberal support at only 38 percent, while NDP and Conservative support has climbed since last month. The poll placed Conservative support at about 30 percent, the NDP at 18 percent, and the Bloc Quebecois at 10 percent.

The NDP has released their 2004 election platform and it hinges on several key positions. It says that Canada ought to be a benevolent nation and should try to run a balanced budget without slashing any important social programs (such as health care or low-cost housing). It also calls for research into methods and practices that could make Canada less dependent on fossil fuels, more environmentally friendly, and more equitable in dealing with Quebec's sovereigntist aspirations.

Jack Layton is proving to be a great speaker and an intelligent policy-maker but he may lack experience at the national level. One thing Paul Martin has going for him is the fact he's already weathered many a political storm and he was the financial brains behind Jean Chretien's many years of budget surpluses and economic growth (at the expense of Canada's poor, I must add). Jack Layton may be a great source of quotes for the nation's journalists but I'm not sure if Canadians are willing to go completely NDP this time around.

NDP's 8 Main Objectives:
  1. Create opportunities and jobs in a green and prosperous economy

  2. Improve public health care with innovation – not privatization

  3. Invest in cities and communities through clean water, housing and transit

  4. Expand access to post-secondary education

  5. Make life more affordable and secure – starting with protecting pensions, removing GST from family essentials and expanding childcare

  6. Strengthen Canada’s independent voice for peace, human rights and fair trade on the world stage

  7. Restore integrity and accountability in government

  8. Balance the budget

If the NDP and the Bloc aren't going to oppose the Liberals, who will? Perhaps the Conservative Party of Canada. Stephen Harper's Conservatives are closing in on the Liberals but they frighten me. They seek to sign up to George W. Bush's Missile Defense Shield (which critics have denounced as both a useless expenditure and a violation of the Non-Proliferation Treaty); they want to cut taxes at any cost; they want to expand the Canadian military and follow the US tack more often; basically, they are like the Canadian Junior Republicans, trying to get a pat on the head from the US and maybe some lucrative trade deals as a reward.

I invite you to read the platforms of every Canadian political party since everybody should know what they're signing before they vote. Personally, I am endorsing the New Democratic Party of Canada because I feel that they would best represent my values as a Canadian. (They don't stand much of a chance in Quebec where I reside but I'm going to vote for them no matter what. If the Bloc wins a couple of seats as a result, at least it's not the Liberals!)

I would have probably voted for a Green party nominee but I think that the NDP have changed their focus enough to make the Green party's existence moot. We don't need two environmentally-friendly parties (the Conservatives and Liberals will pay lip service to protecting the environment but their past behaviour has proven that they are more interested in keeping their seats in Parliament to really care about ruining the land or the sea).

If you're Canadian, which political party speaks to you? Who do you plan to vote for in June? Please comment below!

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