Saturday, September 19, 2015

Why I Might Vote Liberal This Election

It's been four years since Canada's last federal election. Four years in which Katya and I were apart while we waited for her visa, I lived in Halifax and then moved to Victoria and started working on boats at sea. Four years since I blew my knee out on a boat and then brought Katya to Canada.

Back then, in 2011, Prime-Minister Stephen Harper won his third election and the Conservative Party of Canada destroyed the long-ruling Liberal Party for the first time in Canada's history while the New Democratic Party became the Official Opposition for the first time in its history.

It's been a long four years. Now we have another election on our hands.

Because Katya doesn't have citizenship yet, she's not eligible to vote, which means the vote I cast this year will be on behalf of Katya, Maxim and I. We have weighed the options carefully and as it stands right now both Katya and I are coming out on the side of Justin Trudeau and the Liberals, and here's why:





For a while I wasn't sure who to vote for. I'm not one of those rabid anti-Harper left-wing loonies who thinks that as soon as Harper is gone all my problems will vanish and rainbows will shoot out of my nose. There are some things I respect and admire about the guy and some of his policies have been good.

He managed the Canadian economy, especially the banks, rather well during the world financial collapse of 2007-2008. As an educated economist and natural leader he knows where he stands and he doesn't put up with bull. He's also an incredibly savvy political scrapper and brought down the greatest political party in Canada almost single-handedly. Despite the rhetoric from the "hate Harper" brigades, he has governed pretty much from the middle much like Jean Chretien before him.




On the other hand, there are the underhanded scandals including attempts at election fraud during the last election. There are the Senate scandals with millions being pilfered by Conservative Senators and the Prime-Minister's Office attempting to cover it up. There's the secret trade deal with China that was somehow signed but never ratified by Parliament. Then there's the current miserable state of Canada's economy, with a stagnant market going into recession, unaffordable housing prices and more people out of work now than anywhere else in the G7. These are signs of bad decisions at the top.





Tom Mulcair and the NDP are historically the home of the Harper-Hate Bandwagon. The NDP is Canada's democratic-socialist party which is normally modeled after northern European parties of similar bent. It's the party of big unions, soft Marxists, progressives and social justice warriors. Under the late Jack Layton they surged on a wave of popularity dubbed the "Orange Crush" and won the second most seats in Parliament, forming the official opposition. After "Friendly Jack" passed away, "Angry" Tom Mulcair was elected the party leader.

Their plan to cut small business taxes, bring in a national affordable child care strategy and increase the federal minimum wage to $15 all sounds nice, and Mulcair definitely has a charming and enigmatic personality. In fact, of the three main contenders in this election, I think Mulcair the man would make the best Prime-Minister. He's politically savvy and experienced and not afraid to scrap. He's well-spoken and intelligent and has that lust for power that a Prime-Minister requires. He is, in short, another politician.




That's what I don't like about Tom Mulcair. I don't trust him. He used to be a Liberal cabinet minister in Quebec, then tried to join the Conservatives when they were surging, and then settled on the NDP. His plan for Canada, although nice-sounding, is basically the same as Harper's: a bunch of boutique goodies to woo voters with no real substance and no real concrete plan to fix the problems Canada is facing.

Then there's the rabid left-wing loony bin side of the NDP. Tom Mulcair's personal chief of staff told the Pope to "F**k off!" in a public tweet. The NDP candidate for a Toronto riding blogged that Canadian World War 2 veterans were "bourgeouis, rapist scum fighting other bourgeouis, rapist scum.". The NDP candidate for my own riding here in Guelph put a meme on his Facebook that said "Christians are mentally ill."

It's hard to vote for a party that condones such out-of-control actions from it's candidates, and despite Mulcair's attempts to make the NDP a softer centrist party, its membership is still filled with Marxist groupthink loonies who repeat the same tired old social justice talking points.




Which brings us to Justin Trudeau and the humbled Liberal Party of Canada. I was a card-carrying Liberal for many years under Jean Chretien and again when Bob Rae was interim leader after the 2011 election disaster. I used to believe in the centrist, fair and historic position of the party. I loved how they were on the left on social issues and on the right on economic issues. The Liberal Party was in power for 90 years of the 20th Century, managing the Canadian Pacific Railroad, two world wars, the Cold War, two Quebec separation referendums, the 1990's, gay rights and multiple balanced budgets running massive surpluses while the rest of the G8 was in deficit.

When Justin Trudeau, celebrity son of famous Canadian Prime-Minister Pierre Trudeau, was elected leader of the Liberal Party I wasn't too impressed and saw it as a mistake, so I let my membership expire and have since been non-affiliated.

But during this long election campaign Trudeau has risen steadily in the polls and the fortunes of the Liberal Party are looking quite good. I was surprised to see the Liberals topping the Conservatives in the polls for the first time since 2004, and so I checked it out, and I liked what I saw.




The Liberal platform is classic Liberal. Tax cuts for working Canadians and small businesses, so people will actually keep more of their paycheque, while increasing taxes on the top 1% to bring it up to the same levels as other G7 countries.

Get rid of the various different childcare programs, which are currently taxed, and create one national child benefit program that will help families with the cost of child care, including daycare, based on their income.

Protect the oceans and coastal waters by allocating 17% of it as off-limits to fishing, commercial transport and development.

Tackle housing costs by eliminating taxes on development of rental units and end offshore property speculation in Canada.

My favorite, and what I've been saying needs to be done for years, is a massive $60 billion transit infrastructure program across the country. Modernize highways, create more rapid transit, subsidize and lower the cost of public transit, relieve gridlock in Toronto and Vancouver. It would be the biggest infrastructure project in Canadian history since the railroad was built to the Pacific.

Trudeau is also the only one telling Canadians like it is: deficits will need to be run in order to invest in the economy. When in recession is not the time to bring in austerity measures (I guess it depends if you believe in Keynesian economics or not), and while interest rates are low is the time to borrow.

As you can obviously tell, we're backing the Liberal platform. It is the only one that we believe is honest and, most of all, will actually bring about long-lasting change to the country.It's about as centrist as any party, which is exactly where I like it!

Polls as of September 14 2015