Dec. 1, 2005

Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss?

Our federal opposition parties have finally voted down our Liberal government and we have a winter election underway stretching from now until late January. This event seems to be driven by two facts. Firstly the NDP on the left, who had been voting with the Liberals, want more social programs that the Liberals are willing to put forward. Secondly the Conservatives on the right want an election before the Liberal's support rebounds any more from the Adscam fall-out. What will the result be? Probably exactly what we have now, another minority Liberal government. Here's how I see the parties at this early point in the "race".

Liberal Party: They have a long and positive record on economic management. They also seem to be in tune with most Canadians on moral issues such as gay marriage (accepting), abortion (permitting), and international affairs ("not supporting" the Iraq war). Their weakness is partially a result of their many years in power: a certain percentage of promises were not kept, and that's building up in the public's mind. Also they're starting to look a little corrupt. The Adscam affair (hundreds of millions of dollars spent without accountability and largely distributed to Liberal supporters) is a very visible symbol of this problem.

Conservative Party: Their main strength is that they are not the Liberals. They can't be attacked on integrity in the same way, because they've never held power. However they make tax cuts and social conservatism their standards, and in both areas they are unlikely to gain support. Stephen "I'm an economist" Harper's promise to lower the GST will benefit the wealthy and not the Canadians that need support the most. It would also probably trigger inflation. His pledge to overturn gay marriage is a laugh, because he'd never get support for it from the other parties and it's a matter of civil rights that he'd need to change the constitution to overturn.

New Democrats: This is the party that my natural sympathies lie with, but I can't see them making any real gains. Health care and 'support for working families' will likely be their focus. They'll remain as ever the third party but will probably have influence beyond their numbers as the Liberals will again court them to support their probable minority government.

Bloc Quebecois: They "own" the separtist vote which gives them 50% of the ballots in Quebec and anger of Adscam, which happened in Quebec, means that they'll probably capture more seats than before. But why are they floating an idea like a separate 'national' team for Quebec in international sports? That's just silly.

"All taxes are bad." So sayeth Conservative Party leader Stephen Harper. This is also a widely held belief amongst taxpayers, but always irritates me to hear it. I like taxes! Within reason... I especially like sales taxes, which shift the tax burden toward those with the most disposable income. Tax cuts of one form or another are going to be the main topic in this election along with "change".

Taxes pay for things we all use like schools, roads, hospitals and policing. The money doesn't disappear. Taxes also help the poorest of us, which is a benefit for the to the wealthy as their security improves. The sad truth about tax cuts is that they really mean service cuts, and likely more money spent paying for the private alternatives. Tax cuts cost the average taxpayer. They save a little money, but get less for it and have to pay fees to replace the services.

Listening to: Boulevard Of Broken Dreams by Green Day from American Idiot.

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