A left turn: why it’s time to give the NDP a second look
Summer is over, the writ has dropped, and a federal election is upon us. Well, realistically this election has been happening for some time now, but with all the summer fun over with it’s likely Canadians will really start to begin paying attention now.
If you’re a progressive Canadian this may be a breath of fresh air for you. A hope arises that election campaigns still matter, and that the real progressive option in the race, the NDP, will start to see a rise once the campaign really kicks off. However, if you’re not a progressively minded Canadian, but you don’t want to see Scheer (the Conservative Party leader) elected prime minister and have your issues with Justin Trudeau, I urge you to continue reading. At least, to see three reasons why it may be time for you to consider the NDP.
The first of those reasons being 2015 — no, seriously. I know it sounds funny to invoke the year the NDP was supposed to form government heading into the election, as a reason to vote for them this time, but just let me explain. 2015 for the NDP was all about the lessons they have learned, and the hope it can bring. In 2015, the Liberals were able to go from a third party position in the polls, to forming a majority government just a couple months later. What does this prove? Well, first and foremost it proves that campaigns very much still matter. And that Canadians often don’t start really paying attention to politics until they really have to.
The second lesson is revealed when you look at how the Liberals campaigned, as an unabashed progressive party. While Mulcair and the NDP were busy trying to court voters in the centre, the Liberals ran a youthful campaign on progressive priorities such as, seriously fighting climate change, reconciliation and growth with indigenous peoples, electoral reform, infrastructure investment to kickstart the economy, marijuana legalization, and so on. Now, you also have to factor in that the Liberals were able to get the anti-Harper vote to coalesce around themselves. However, the anti-Scheer vote will most likely operate in the same way, coalescing behind one party going into an election, meaning the main influencing factor to Trudeau’s success was still the campaign his party ran in 2015.
We now know that Justin Trudeau is not a paradigm of progressive values, and has largely governed to the centre, and centre-right at times. But, the NDP has learned from the campaign he ran. They learned that Canadians aren’t afraid of substantial progressive policy, and have therefore brought forth A New Deal For People, the most progressive policy platform I’ve ever seen from a major federal party. This platform alone is reason to vote for this party, and it’s recommended that you go have a look for yourself, but here’s some highlights to whet your appetite. The NDP is promising to create 300,000 jobs through their climate plan and infrastructure overhaul; raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour; create a national pharmacare program by 2022 as well as expanding medicare to include eye, dental, and hearing care; build 500,000 affordable housing units across the country; eliminate interest on student debt; create a national action plan for reconciliation, and require free, prior, and informed consent from indigenous communities affected by government policies; create a national home energy retrofitting program, and insure all new houses are energy efficient by 2030. They plan to pay for all of this by ending fossil fuel subsidies, closing tax loopholes, raising the top marginal tax rate on the highest earners in Canada, creating a wealth tax of 1 per cent on incomes over $20 million (the tax will only apply to any income over the 20 millionth dollar), and more. There really is just too much to detail here so go have a look for yourself.
The final reason you may want to vote NDP is also arguably our most recent issue we’ve faced as a nation, and that has to do with ethics and principles. It’s clear that the current governing Liberals have no prerogative to uphold ethics in this country, being found in contradiction of our ethics act multiple times. This alone should be a reason to avoid a Liberal vote in October as no one is above the law. But, their main opposition is no better. The federal Conservative party is no stranger to ethics violations as well; in 2011 the Harper government was found in contempt of ethics legislation along with their many scandals during their previous tenure.
So, as a voter looking for ethical leadership, that leaves just two parties, the NDP and the Greens, but even here there’s a substantial difference in principles. While the NDP have long been known as a principled party that holds parliament to account, even earning the nickname the Conscience of Parliament, the Greens are relatively new to the scene. And now, under higher scrutiny they may be starting to show some cracks. Just a few days ago, Elizabeth May said she would not stop private members of the Green Party from reopening the abortion debate through private members bill. Now she was speaking technically about her inability to whip votes in her caucus. But on an issue as substantial as a woman’s right to choose, technicalities won’t cut it. So if you’re looking for an ethical party, who stands up for the rights of Canadians, it would seem the NDP is the way to go.
Look, the election just started, no one knows what’s going to happen, but it’s quite clear Canadians aren’t very pleased with the government over the last four years. But, it’s quite obvious that the majority of Canadians also aren’t willing to go back to the Conservative governance of the Harper years. As far as major parties go, that leaves the NDP. They may not be perfect, and they may be struggling now, but with an election coming soon, they are the most ethical, have the best platform to help Canadians, and, if we learn from history, could rise to be a major player during the campaign. With what’s looking like a minority government on the horizon we want the party that’s going to best stand up for the average people, there should be no pressure to vote strategically, so I’ll ask you one question: why not the NDP?