The 4-year cycle of seeking/retaining power in federal Canada prevents parties from seriously addressing long term realities. The electoral cycle yields electoral platforms containing goodie bags for specific voters which may or may not represent good, thoughtful or wise public policy. But they garner votes. The wide shape and variety of special-interest goodies makes it very hard to easily compare party platforms. The CBC does so anyway.
As a politics wonk (and Agent of Record for the Norwegian Poling Gnomes), there are two things I’d want to change if someone died and made me king over, well, you. I’d abolish first-past-the-post elections and I’d require annual third-party reporting out of progress for almost everything. This post is a follow-up to Lawn Sign and Foodbanks.
The ideas below reflect the principle that any good idea is an idea worth appropriating. These are things I’ve thought about and that I would expect from a good minority government or from any government, for that matter. My list is not exhaustive but it’s my list and it’s a start. Moreover, there are some good election helps which would assist anyone interested in crafting their own list to do so. Here are two: Kairos Canada has published an excellent and thoughtful election Resource while the Canadian Council of Churches is offering an election Guide endorsed by Lutheran, Anglican and many other church leaders.
Where a 42-month timeline is indicated below it is there to have prospective voters be well informed of progress and the potential need for continuity (or not) beyond the end of a government’s four-year, 48-month remit. (ATPRC = Annual third-party report card.)
At the time of writing, the Norwegian Poling Gnomes believe the Liberals to have moved in the direction of forming a majority government in a significant voter-efficient lead over the Conservatives. Amidst charges of hypocrisy upon hypocrisy on every side, Mr. Sheer did himself no favours in the TVA debate. The NDP has managed to move out of the doldrums through the appealing and sensible witness of Mr. Singh while the Greens have lost some soft strategic support to the NDP.
On the cusp of this evening’s big English-language debate, the Norwegian Poling Gnomes believe that the election is the Liberals’ to lose. As a person who is hopeful when optimism fails, I will continue to pray for a minority government.
(1) Replace first-past-the-post within 2 years. ATPRC. (2) Lower voting age to 16 now. (3) Continue non-partisan appointments to senate. ATPRC on composition of Senate.
(1) Establish guaranteed liveable income with maximum 42-month phase-in. See Food-banks. ATPRC. (2) Include drugs and dental care in national healthcare with maximum 42-month phase-in. ATPRC. (3) Establish affordable housing strategy with maximum 42-month phase-in. ATPRC. (4) Suspend Safe Third Country agreement now. (5) Decriminalise drug use, simple possession now. Retain severe penalties for trafficking. (6) Make handguns illegal everywhere now.
(1) Retain price on pollution and honour 2030 targets. ATPRC. (2) Cease construction of Trans-Mountain pipeline. (3) Compensate and assist Alberta et al to reinvent Canadian work force in pro-environment and clean energy directions. (4) Produce a coast-to-coast-to coast transportation strategy to maximise the use of public, mass transportation over the use of cars with maximum 42-month phase-in. ATPRC. (5) Ban single use plastics with maximum 24-month phase-in. ATPRC. (6) Plant 30 trees per year for every human in Canada beginning now. ATPRC
(1) Discontinue Canadian Human Rights Tribunal challenge re First Nations now. (2) Make all on-reserve drinking water potable within 42 months. ATPRC. (3) Implement UNDRIP now. (4) ATPRC on TRC progress within 12 months with government action plan within 24 months and immediate implementation.
Here are some public finance ideas. These are not hills to die on right now but might be worthy of conversation over next 3 years for possible adoption via appeal to Parliament or 2023 federal election.
(1) Cease using tax system for support/delivery of programs or for protecting/promoting particular interests. Federal tax system funds federal government spending. Period. (2) Move to funding of programs by direct transfer to private/provincial or urban sectors. (3) Leave program management in the private/provincial/urban sector where possible. (4) Account for all support/delivery of programs via annual public financial statement. (5) Simplify income tax system with maximum 42-month strategy & phase in. ATPRC. (6) Impute all corporate income to individuals for the purposes of taxation. (Corporations exist solely to effect strategies which require more than one person and/or to share risk. Corporations afford no tax advantage to the individual share-holder who is recompensed with dividends and the prospect of sale of shares at a post-tax profit. With thanks to Prof. Eric Kierans; McGill Public Finance class c. 1973.) (7) Use wealth and estate taxes to broaden revenue streams with 42-month strategy and phase-in. ATPRC.
André Lavergne — writing from a settler-descendant’s home on the traditional lands of the Neutral, Anishnaabe, and Haudenosaunee peoples on the Haldimand Tract (1784).