Far greater pundits and commentators have submitted their endorsements for one party or another. While opinionated I don’t regard myself as blindly partisan mostly because I have drifted all over the political spectrum. I supported the Liberals strongly in 2004 and reluctantly in 2006. Provincially I’ve voted for all three major parties at one time or another and in the most recent provincial election I voted for the right of center Saskatchewan Party. As I came to grips with the reality of climate change and peak oil I put my support behind the Greens at the federal level. I still believe that Peak Oil is the biggest issue most people have never heard of and it holds greater sway over our economy than most of issues we are debating right now.
I’m in a riding that is a horse race between incumbent Conservative Kelly Block and the NDP’s Nettie Wiebe. Tough choices for me as they represent my two least favourite options. I think the NDP platform is weak. I don’t like their Cap and Trade program. It isn’t broad enough and the assumption that we can tax big polluters and not impact consumers is short sighted. If they implement it as is it will become NEP part two as it will pump money out of Alberta and Saskatchewan to fund all sorts of fun programs all over the country. Just take a look at Liberal polling numbers in Alberta and you’ll see alienated westerners have long memories.
I find some elements of their platform almost silly like capping credit card rates. The NDP haven’t generally enjoyed the prospect of actually forming a government. For years they have been able to get away with promising anything they want. At lot of their promises will have to be revisited if they form government, but I believe they are honest enough to pare back where they need to. If they listen to guys like the former premier of Saskatchewan Roy Romanow they will do just fine.
I don’t think they will increase the deficit because they are “tax and spend” social democrats not “cut taxes and spend” Conservatives. If Jack Layton does become PM they will clearly have to work with the Liberals and that will temper their ideals with some pragmatism.
I think the Conservatives are wrong on many issues and I find their tactics dishonest and sleazy. Their crime and punishment agenda is a cynical vote grab that panders to people’s ignorance about crime. The choice to drop the GST instead of income tax was another sacrifice of good policy for good politics. They attacked Dion and Ignatieff outside an election with dishonest ads that questioned their motives and character. Their tactics were successful politically as Canadians still have a dim view of Ignatieff, but just imagine how this tactic would destroy the relationships of people that we elected to run our country.
Their tactics have eroded our democracy with lies, fears and smears. They were elected because Canada was willing to demand better but we haven’t received anything better. Conservative transgressions are well documented. The breach of parliamentary privilege resulting in the contempt of parliament ruling, proroguing parliament to avoid accountability in the house of commons over the possible torture of afghan detainees, the inclusion of a convicted fraudster in the PMO, running afoul of election laws, pork barrel spending in Conservative ridings and the list goes on and on. The Conservatives and many of their supporters just shrug these issues off as nitpicking and partisan bickering. Most Canadians disagree as a recent poll revealed over 60% believe our democracy is in crisis.
The Conservatives main push this election has been their vaunted management of the economy. Canada weathered the recession well because it was positioned well by a decade of prudent fiscal management by the Liberals and we just happen to find a lot of things in the ground and growing on the ground that the rest of the world finds valuable. The recession didn’t start in Canada and it didn’t end here either. The Conservatives have done almost nothing to transition us to a more sustainable economy. Their modest efforts at investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency must be viewed in contrast to the billions of dollars of subsidies we provide the oil industry despite record level oil prices. The price of gasoline and home heating oil will continue to rise long term and Canada is still very vulnerable to energy price hikes. When the rising cost of oil and increasing debt pressures force the American economy in to recession again we will feel the impact. It is true that danger does lurk on the shores of our economy but I see very little being done to mitigate the true risks to our economy.
The risks of climate change may already be upon us as the world grapples with increased droughts, floods and storms that negatively impact food production which in turn causes food inflation. It is great for farmers in Saskatchewan, not so good for people in the developing world living off dollars a day or our grocery bills. In the long term the most productive, business friendly and market friendly economy is one that doesn’t borrow from the future with unsustainable approaches in regards to energy and the environment. As we continue to trash our environment and squander our limited non-renewable energy resources with gross inefficiencies we sleep walk in to economic ruin.
I appreciate the Green platform. Their carbon tax is a simpler, fairer way to address the issue of climate change. They have good ideas on electoral reform. I sincerely hope Elizabeth May wins her seat and if I were in her riding I would vote for her. A successful future for the Green political movement probably lies along two paths. In one scenario an NDP coalition successfully leads the country to proportional representation paving the way for Green MPs. Another might be for the Greens to become a “Green Tea Party.” While they hold very little in common with the American “Tea Party” they could use similar tactics to create a green political movement inside the LPC or NDP. I agree with Green party when they say the NDP and Liberal climate change policies are weak, but the truth is we don’t have decades to wait for the Greens to gain influence in a First Past the Post system. The sad reality is something is better than nothing.
I’m less impressed with the Liberal platform this time around. Michael Ignatieff is much better leader most people make him out to be. He would probably be a better PM than Harper or even Layton but he is no Trudeau, Chretien or even Paul Martin. Being outside the country for 30 years doesn’t make him less Canadian but I think Canadians want a leader who has spent most of their lives investing in the betterment of Canadian society.
Unfortunately the Liberals have engaged in the same kinds of tactics I’m so critical of the Conservatives for using. Like many other Canadians I’m tired of the crap. I want the people we elect to represent us to work together. I think the surge in NDP support outside Quebec comes from Canadians that are just sick and tired of all the crap. Outside of Quebec I don’t believe this new “Orange Crush” is a mandate for the NDP. It is a rejection of distasteful practices of the two main parties and attack ads that might be considered mutually assured destruction. They both managed to spoil the public perception of each other to point that people gave up on both of them and shifted to the NDP.
I hope that we see a coalition government that includes a more honest party committed to democratic reform (the NDP) combined with the experience and temperament of Canada’s old natural governing party (the LPC) with Elizabeth May as the environment minister. The Conservatives have been far too corrosive on our democracy. While I’m comfortable with right of center parties like the Saskatchewan Party I won’t sacrifice democratic values and basic honesty and decency for lower taxes. If we continue to allow parties to undermine our democracy we open the door to something far worse than modestly higher taxes.