All the newspapers are in and the endorsement race is split exactly where you would expect it to be. Postmedia and the Globe have endorsed the Tories (with varying degrees of support) while TorStar and its affiliates have endorsed the Liberals. Here in my endorsement I want to start with why I cannot support Stephen Harper’s conservative party even though in one of the ridings I could vote in, I was considering voting for my local conservative candidate.
It can be argued that the conservatives did not do as much damage over their ten years in power as progressives like to say he did. And while I feel the media hasn’t given enough air time to his relaxing of environmental regulations in the past 10 years, Harper has not been able to do much real damage to this country because of the resistance from the provinces and the courts. Some could even argue that his economic policies have done some good for the economy outside of the energy sector and as a student I have to acknowledge that the Harper government did good things on federal student loans.
In terms of the choices in this election, Harper does still win in one respect; foreign policy. While it is simply the best of three bad options, Harper’s conservatives have had a distinct and pronounced vision for Canada’s place in the world and no other party or leader has been able to challenge him in that respect.
I know that at some point in my life I will probably vote for a conservative. It’s bound to happen given the shoddy state of progressive politics in this country and it is true that progressive governments occasionally need reigning in.
However, as has been covered well in this editorial by the National Post the Harper government is not a government I trust with continued power on our federal institutions or that I feel has legitimacy to continued governance given how he has treated the power he has. I disagree fundamentally with how he has run Parliament and disagree with his operating philosophy concerning working with provinces and municipalities and other issues of importance to multiple levels of government. Simply, I do not trust Stephen Harper as Prime Minister and I know I am not the only one. With that out of the way, that leaves two options, Thomas Mulcair and Justin Trudeau.
Going into this election I was a couple of clicks away from becoming a card-carrying supporter of the New Democratic Party and was excited by the possibility of Tom Mulcair as Prime Minister. I was livid at the Liberals for supporting C51 and felt that Trudeau was in way over his head in this campaign and that his campaign team was not only aware of this, but had little hope of actually putting him in 24 Sussex Dr. I figured that after hearing about the announcement of Mulcair’s universal childcare plan I could expect to hear a prosperous vision for a generous Canada coming from Tom. However, that hope of vision simply did not pan out.
Thomas Mulcair has a plan for Canada, the creation of a new federal bureaucracy for day care being its cornerstone. And while I applaud his passion, the crux of his problem is that he has not convinced me that his plan is more efficient or more effective than Justin Trudeau’s restructuring of the Canada Child Benefit. Unlike medicine and education, daycare is not necessarily something that needs to be universalized given how different it looks across the country. Given recent reports on Quebec’s system questioning its effectiveness, I needed more convincing that Mulcair’s plan was the best one and I never really got that in this 11-week campaign.
Trudeau, on the other hand has had an economic vision for the country from the get-go and it has nothing to do with deficits. His plan on deficits is about a short term burst of infrastructure spending that I do support, but it’s his vision for the country in all other respects that has me endorsing him today. He wants to put more money in the hands of parents who don’t currently have the money to sustain themselves while not giving those checks to higher income parents. It’s never been the focus of the media’s attention, but if we’re talking about a Keynesian redistributionist vision for Canada, Justin Trudeau’s Liberals are it and every part of his platform is centred on that vision.
From the income tax restructuring to his promotion of the Student Loan Repayment Assistance Plan as a means of configuring student loans as income contingent. The Liberal plan has sold me on Keynesian policies whereas as the Globe and Mail‘s endorsement earlier this week rightly stated, the NDP on the whole are endorsing the Conservative record of economic policies, only making small changes to the corporate tax rates. Justin Trudeau’s plan, while not intended to be as such, is the closest thing we have to a Guaranteed Minimum Income on the ballot this year and that is the direction I want Canada to be moving in.
This idea of economic vision is only secondary to the reason I want Justin Trudeau to be Prime Minister on Tuesday morning. His most important vision for Canada is that of electoral and parliamentary reform, two things that I care about deeply. I am a firm believer in the following things
- The importance of a meritocratic non-partisan Canadian senate
- A judiciary that is respected by its parliamentary counterpart and whose members are transparently selected
- A parliamentary system that allows opposition members and backbenchers to represent their constituencies
- Government watchdogs with real independence to hold the government accountable
- An electoral system that seeks to best represent the views of Canadians in the formation of government
- A federal government that works in a leadership and partnership capacity with provinces and municipalities to create country-wide strategies for prosperity
These are things that Trudeau has promised in his platform in various ways and have me excited about the future of the political process in Canada, and I can’t stress enough how betrayed I will feel if these are not enacted by a Trudeau Liberal government.
This is not a blanket endorsement of a four-year mandate for Justin Trudeau’s Liberal party in a majority government. I want to see a strong Liberal minority that can enact much of this platform in the next 2-3 years and then an election under a fair system to start a new era for Canadian politics. Justin Trudeau has convinced me he is ready, and that he’s worth a shot.