Hi! I am Lucas, an alumnus from the Rivers to Sea region. In 2013, I won the Rotary Ambassador’s Award for top project at the regional fair, and I represented my region at the 2013 Provincial Fair in Victoria. Last year, I participated in the alumni program.
October 19th, 2015 will be a normal day for many young and old Canadians, but this day has special importance. It is the date of the 2015 Canadian Federal Election. People over 18 can go to the polling station and vote for not just their community’s next leader, but the country’s next leader. Mark this day down on your calendar, folks, because the race for prime minister-ship will heat up, and with several pressing issues coming internally and from abroad, it will be interesting to see how the election will unfold.
Part 1: An Introduction to Every Contending Party
The Green Party:
This is the least-represented party in the House of Commons. A relatively young party, founded in just 1983, Elizabeth May took leadership of the party in 2006. She failed to be elected as member of parliament in the 2006 and 2008 elections, but ran in Saanich-Gulf Islands in 2011 and was voted on. Later, a former NDP member left his party and came to join May in Parliament. In the political spectrum, the Green Party is ranked on the left-side, heavily supporting environmental development and encouraging voters to learn more about the environment. Lately, the party has started to branch out to other issues, such as nonviolence. Members have also stated the Green Party wants to find different solutions to big problems in Canada. Since May has become leader, the Green Party has always garnered around 5% of the popular vote in the federal election, reaching 6.8% in 2008. If big gains aren’t made in this election, the Green Party may have to start looking for coalitions and deals with fellow left-wing groups, such as the NDP, Liberals and Bloc Quebecois. Until then, the big guns of the House of Commons will look down to this group as nothing more than a tiny minority with no voice.
This party is only available to vote for in the region of Quebec, hence the french name. This party is known for wanting to separate Quebec from Canada and becoming its own sovereign nation. Separatists have been the talk of Canadian politics for over 40 years, and Bloc Quebecois is the most popular party that raises the awareness of the issue. Bloc is the fourth-most represented party in the House of Commons. For over 20 years, Lucien Bouchard and Gilles Duceppe led the party, heavily campaigning for an independent Quebec. The premier of Quebec is part of the provincial party Bloc Quebecois. This party will never rule Canada, because the number of ridings in Quebec is not enough to hold a majority in the House of Commons. This may change in the far future if the size of Quebec balloons. The representatives of the Bloc only want to talk Quebec in Parliament, because that is what the whole party revolves arounds. MP’s of the party are protecting Quebec and their rights. Quebec is a very left-wing province in Canada, so it’s no surprise that the party leans towards the left side on the political spectrum. Popularity for this party has greatly diminished, particularly in the 2011 election. The number of seats won dropped down like a stone, from 49 to four, and fellow left-winger NDP took several of the seats that Bloc had held. Is this the end for federal representation from a separatist-Quebec movement?
The Liberal Party:
The Liberal Party has ruled Canada for the longest period of time, with outstanding leaders such as William Lyon Mackenzie King, Wilfrid Laurier, and Lester B. Pearson. Formed in the late 1800’s, the Liberal Party is moderately left-wing and has British views on the economy combined with friendships with Francophone Canadians. During a time of instability, Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier is well-known to many Canadians as a man who bridged the gap between French and English-speaking Canadians. Another famous liberal is Pierre Trudeau, who helped bring Canada’s constitution home, create a Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and solved the FLQ Crisis by enacting the War Measures Act. After the Progressives dug Canada into an enormous debt in the 1990’s, Jean Chretien was able to pull the nation out of the trench. However, the party hasn’t seen a single return to the PM’s office since 2006. For the first time in history, the Liberals didn’t finish first or second in the 2011 election under failing leader Michael Ignatieff. Current leader, Justin Trudeau took over the party in 2013 and began to take heavy steps to becoming prime minister. The party went more on the offensive, and is now fairly confident in how the 2015 election will play out. The Liberals think of themselves as very anti-Conservative; they want homosexual marriage, more loose rights of abortion, and to allow more immigrants to come in to Canada. They still believe in a free economic market, and support universal health care and old age pensions, both which started under fellow Grit Lester B. Pearson in the 1960’s.
The New Democratic Party (NDP):
The biggest surprise of the 2011 election, in which seats rocketed from 37 to 102, was the New Democratic Party. Much of the success during the campaigning was attributed to Jack Layton, a tireless supporter of his group who sadly lost his battle with cancer soon after the election. The most left party on the Canadian political spectrum, the NDP was created during the hardships of the Great Depression. Completely against capitalism and very strongly supporting socialism, and even communism in their old days, the party was slowly softened up and aren’t as far-left as they were 50 years ago. Up until the early 2000’s the NDP mostly drew votes from left-wing extremists, protesters, activists and those who hated the Liberal and Conservative parties, and in the 1990’s almost completely washed out, but eventually, as the transition to modern politics surfaced, more voters, especially in Quebec came to support the NDP. Nowadays, the NDP is much more centre-left than before, and has drawn several comparisons in their stances to the Liberal Party. As the NDP has moved towards the centre of the political spectrum, rumours have aroused of leader Thomas Mulcair alliancing with Justin Trudeau to overthrow the right-wing Conservative government, but Mulcair has firmly put down these accusations. More and more want the two parties to become one party, but there is too many differences between the two groups for a deal to rise. The NDP supports a very communist approach to the market, such as making richer people and companies pay more taxes. The NDP also backs large unions, including educators, doctors, and government workers. Outside of the economy, the NDP advocates for more environmental attention, along with heavy undertakings to cut poverty in Canada.
The Conservative Party:
The Conservative Party is not to be confused with the Progressive Conservative Party, a now-defunct group that merged with the Reform Alliance Party in 2004 to become the current Conservative Party. This one is the youngest major party in federal politics. The Progressive Party, also known as the Tories, were a right-wing group that were heavily against the Liberal Party. John A. Macdonald, the founder of our nation, was a Conservative. Other notable members include John Diefenbaker, who was heavily against a new Canadian flag and preferred the old Union Jack, and Robert Borden, the WWI prime minister whose face is on the 100 dollar bill. Being the first ruling party, members always drew parallels of themselves to the British, sharing similar ideas of how the market should be controlled and social issues, such as reliance on the Christian church and opposition to gay marriage. Another leader that governed in the 1980’s was Brian Mulroney, a very right-wing politician. He changed the economic market and how people thought of it, including lowering taxation, promoting free trade, and making services from the government more private. However, many thought that he was increasing taxing, including bringing in the Goods and Services Tax in 1991 (also known as the GST), and spent so much money that the government’s debt went into the 40 billion range. This lead to his downfall. The Reform Alliance Party is very right-wing, similar to the Tories, but didn’t gain much popularity until leader Stephen Harper merged the party with the Progressive Conservative Party in 2004, creating the Conservative Party. In 2006, he was elected Prime Minister, and has held on to the title to this day. Some major describing factors of the Conservative government includes lower taxation, and less power to the federal government and more to the provinces and territories. Although they do allow gay marriage and abortion, Conservatives generally dislike the two notions, just like the Christian church from Britain. Another gain factor is how the government wants to enforce more military operations around the world and putting more into Canada’s communities to protect the public. This has angered the Liberals and the NDP, but outsiders support the Tories for making stronger forces internally and externally has great volume.
Part 2: Major Issues Leading Up to the Election
*Partly transcripted from Power and Politics-Top 5 Election Issues to Watch in 2015-CBC
5. Surplus Spending
Stephen Harper insists that there will be a balanced budget this year, even with the oil prices dropping like a stone. This gives the government a surplus, allowing them to spend it on what they want. Mulcair and Trudeau wonder if there is even a surplus to spend. Thomas Mulcair argues that the balanced budget comes with cuts, and perhaps bad cuts. Each party has different ways of spending the extra cash. The Conservatives will spend the money of income splitting, with family tax cuts. The NDP will use it to provide a 15$ a day national daycare program, and the liberals will spend the money on infrastructure. The topic of surplus spending sets the political platform for each party. Although the drop of oil has lost the feds 13 billion dollars, the Conservatives promise that there will be a surplus. This issue gives the voter the chance to vote for what they want to see in the next election. The Tories will provide families with more dough, giving them a choice. The NDP has a wider vision with the daycare. And the liberals will use it for the future from infrastructure. The Conservatives have racked up debts in other sectors, so it would be smart to spend the surplus on mending other sectors.
Tom Mulcair promoting his daycare plan.
Winner of the Issue: The Conservatives give a much more glamorous solution, and the NDP’s daycare plan is more attractive to families as well. These two parties win the first issue.
With the mission in Iraq and the ISIS mission, the Conservatives say that they will “degrade the capabilities of ISIL… including engaging in military action, and building military bases in the open… (the party) is making new laws so we can track and lay charges”. However, a bigger issue for most Canadians is the question of how the country can be kept safe from attacks. This has been especially enforced after the hit and run attacks in Quebec, and the shooting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. The Conservatives have began to toughen up, creating Bill C-51. The shooting in Ottawa has resulted in security and defense shooting up the election issues to watch, from around ninth and tenth to where it is right now. This issue is good for Harper, although the legislations he has brought in surrounding this problem have been very controversial in the House of Commons. The Tories are the policy makers, so they will have the upper hand. This is especially important on topics such as personal civil rights. And with ISIS garnering so many headlines with their videos and publicity, people want to support the mission in Iraq and Syria. On the flip side, the prison conditions and acts of violence against women in Canada also have gotten support, so many are questioning whether as much money should be put into the ISIS mission. With all that being said, most citizens will not want to change their trust in this government in this issue. Problems are popping up all over the world, and it creates a sense of anxiety, which again supports the Conservatives.
The shootings on Parliament Hill turned many heads.
Winner of the Issue: The Conservatives have heavily increased action in this area, which is something that Canadians find to be important. With new legislation coming in and the missions in Iraq and ISIS, it seems as if the Conservatives will dominate this issue.
Energy, particularly oil, has long-been one of Canada’s primary resources for exporting to other countries. With talks of creating the Northern Gateway Pipeline, Energy East Pipeline and Keystone Pipeline XL, there has been great opposition against what the Conservative Party is trying to accomplish. The Green Party says it would cause permanent damage to the BC economy and to our environment. Aboriginals think they are being invaded, with construction workers coming onto their lands. Justin Trudeau states that the social license has not been developed for these options to work. The NDP supports move of energy from west to east as opposed to Keystone. The Conservatives are confident in how Canada is most energy secure country in the world. The many issues surrounding this topic that negatively affect the Conservatives include climate change, the price of oil and relationships with First Nations peoples. The oil and gas regulations issue has been around since 2006, and the Conservatives haven’t done anything about it. They haven’t taken in account anything said by Aboriginals, and completely ignored climate change. This makes them very vulnerable, but it might not make that much of a difference in the polls. Conservatives have been downplaying the issue since the Northern Gateway project died down. Stephen Harper built the government on the most volatile thing in the world, and he should have known better.
What a dock on the Northern Gateway pipeline would look like.
Winner of the Issue: The Conservatives lose, because after nine years, no pipelines have started construction, which means there is no new flow of oil. He bet the house on Canada becoming an energy superpower, and hasn’t delivered. However, the NDP and the Liberals haven’t capitalized on this issue, so only the Conservatives have been affected.
The NDP and the Liberals take a very similar stance on this issue. Mulcair: “After 9 long years of the Harper government, time of change for leadership, to reverse negative policies, and not share them like the Liberals admit they do!” Trudeau responds with “Negativity cannot be this country’s lifeblood…and it is not the way of the people that voted Conservative.” Harper feels fairly confident with the state of his party. “I’ve been very clear that it is my intention to lead this party again…I’m looking forward to the debate, and I think we have a pretty good chance.” Overall, there hasn’t been a kick the bums out mood, not like the Mulroney government in the late 20th century. Despite being in power for nine years, the Conservative support is still always 30%. When the government started putting up Harper vs. Trudeau, it didn’t work for them. A lot of people think that Trudeau will be PM one day and the Conservatives are playing on that, saying he might be one day, but not this day. Leadership is defined about what the problems are. If people want a more sunny, light feeling, Trudeau can talk about how government isn’t ethical and open enough. But there’s a darker mood on the horizon, people aren’t ready for Trudeau. Everyone knows Mulcair is having a great deal of trouble despite his performance recognized widely as terrific. His leadership ratings are higher than Harper, but he’s not winning many issues. His party just doesn’t know where to go. Trudeau, on the other hand, is on the verge of becoming known as a high school debater rather than a serious leader. With the Prime Minister, there’s a sense that Harper doesn’t care for democracy or parliament, his ominous bills crush democracy, and it doesn’t feel like the proper government in 9th year. These negative judgements might stick on the Prime Minister, such as the Mike Duffy case.
Justin Trudeau is on the verge of not being taken seriously.
Winner of the Issue: This is the stalemate issue. Each party has their own faults, but the Prime Minister has been criticized more because he’s the leader of the country. It comes down to what you, the voters want.
Number 1: Economy/Jobs
The Conservatives point to their track record to prove that they have improved our job situation. Although other countries are worsening, Canada has created a net 1.1 million jobs and they are private sector, full time, high paying jobs. However, the New Democratic Party begs to differ, stating that most of the Conservative new jobs are part time, precarious jobs. In Toronto, over 50% of families cannot rely on one full time steady job. Trudeau takes a more broad view on the problem. “ A real economy, is where every Canadian has a real chance at success. It means a thriving middle class with growing income and job opportunities.” The Conservatives want the ballot box issue to be the economy and it’s looking quite good for Harper right now. Unemployment rates have gradually ticked down, and the Liberals don’t have much of a different economic view than the Conservatives except on the surplus. The debt’s down, unemployment is down, but the deficit will need to be sorted out. If people feel the economy is fine, that could actually be a disadvantage to Harper, because people feel it’s time for change. The Liberals have a good track record from the Chretien government and a talented team. This is something that Tom Mulcair and the NDP don’t have. It again comes down to who the voters trust. The NDP can jump on the fact that inequality has gotten worse in the economy under the Conservatives. One of the taxes that Harper reduced was to big corporations which are getting richer and richer, and government services are being cut.
Winner of the Issue: A major disadvantage for the NDP, because they have never been in power and therefore don’t have the track record. Jean Chretien’s government dug Canada out of a huge debt in the 90’s, but that was 20 years ago. Harper has continued to create jobs, and that’s why he’ll take this issue.
Part 3: Verdict
As you can see, the Conservatives have won the most issues, probably because they’re the party in power. However, every group has at least one question that they are confident in, and they will spend as much time proving that it gives them an edge in the polls.
-security, both economic and international
-Canada is in good hands, both foreign policy and economically
-bigger government is a better government
-you cannot trust Stephen Harper, his bills and legislation are anti-democracy, and he doesn’t care for parliament
-surplus will give families daycare at an affordable price
-vision for Canada, it’s time for change
-Trudeau is more than a member of the high-school debate team, and will bring back his father’s glory days
-Liberals don’t have much different view on policies, but they take a more light approach (with Trudeau, anyway) and aren’t as harsh as the Tories
I think that the Conservatives will be able to hang on to a majority victory. Harper hasn’t sunk Canada in his nine years, and people don’t feel at all like there’s a real need to kick him out of office. His foreign military interventions and responses to the attacks on Parliament Hill have been widely received by citizens to be positive. Mulcair just doesn’t have enough supporters. With an ideology that is so different from the two other major parties, and having a party that has not once been in power once in the history of Canada, it will be an uphill battle for the NDP, and the road looks pretty steep ahead. Trudeau’s party has traditionally been so anti-Conservative. However, many policies have Tory and Grit support, which makes Trudeau not all that different from Harper’s government. Justin Trudeau’s last name will definitely garner some more votes for him, and people do believe that he will be the PM one day, but it’s not yet the time for him. A move into the Leader of the Opposition’s chair for a few terms would do him much good going forward.
Conservatives win with a majority government. Liberals climb into the opposition’s chair, although it will be a nasty fight between them and the NDP. The results between 2nd and 3rd place will be close. Bloc and Green scrabble for a handful of seats.
The polls are everywhere, attempting to predict what will happen during this election. The parties are taking jabs at each other, trying to gain a foothold in Canada’s parliamentary cliff. This summer and September, the leaders will especially be at each other’s throats. Any advantage will be blown out of proportion. Overall, it’s what you think. Your vote is the most important thing that will benefit Canadians, and you should use this power. You’ve got backstory on each party, analyst opinions, and my final thoughts. Now, it’s time for you to step up and vote for what you think is right. Who do you support?