In this series CMR will examine the policy proposals set forth by the top three parties in Canada’s 2015 federal election.
PART I: The NDP (current article)
PART II: The Liberals
PART III: The Conservatives
Obviously these parties are all terrible. So the question is simply this: which party will beat you with the biggest stick?
We will refer to the helpful National Post article “Everything you need to know about the parties’ platforms, from taxes to terrorism to the environment.”
In Part I, we will look at the NDP.
We know all the platforms are going to be bad, but intuitively any free market supporter will expect this one to be the worst. We shall see.
– Balance the budget in 2016.
This is meaningless unless we know how they will balance the budget. Cut spending? This would be good, but unlikely. Raise revenue by increasing taxation, fees, and other forms of plunder? This would be bad. Since it’s the NDP, we can safely assume the latter is more likely.
– Not raise personal income-tax rates.
Well that’s ‘nice’, but a personal income tax cut be better. Still, it’s a pleasant surprise that they don’t want to hike taxes on “the rich.”
– Cancel government’s income-splitting policy for families; says it helps only wealthiest 15 per cent.
This would increase the tax burden on any family to which it applies, and is therefore bad. That it applies mostly to the “wealthiest” is true depending on how you define “wealthy,” but it also applies only to those who have someone with whom they can split their income. So it is rather selective and narrow in its tax relief. This is an interesting matter on its own, and of course tax relief for everyone would be better. But regardless of the fairness issue, added tax relief for some is better than added tax relief for none.
– Reverse changes to TFSA contribution limits; says higher amount helps the wealthy and does little for middle-class Canadians.
The TFSA is one of the only good things the Harper Conservatives have ever done. Reducing the contribution limits means more taxable income and therefore this is an evil NDP policy.
– Increase income-tax rates on Canada’s largest corporations to about the levels that existed before the Conservatives took office.
After the income tax, the corporate tax is probably the dumbest tax possible. It should be eliminated, not raised. Shareholders own corporations. Shareholders are paying the tax. The NDP wants to increase taxes on shareholders of Canada’s largest corporations. Due to the way many people and pension plans invest, this applies to a huge portion of Canadians.
– Cut small-business tax rate to nine per cent from current 11 per cent.
Tax cuts are good. But let’s be serious here: going from 11 to 9 percent is extremely ungenerous. Why don’t they just say “no more corporate income tax on small businesses”? That would significantly change economic behavior and the economy would get a large boost of productivity and job growth.
This NDP proposal reveals a certain cluelessness about how the business world works, which is unsurprising when it comes to the NDP. Most small businesses (less than $500,000 income) having earnings less than $100,000 per year. Most have less than $100,000 in revenues each year. This tax cut amounts to peanuts for a lot of businesses and will rarely make or break hiring decisions.
Furthermore, accountants prepare tax returns with the objective of minimizing the tax of the corporation. Most small businesses companies are “flow-through entities”, meaning it is well understood by tax professionals and the tax collectors that the corporation will minimize its tax, and earnings will “flow through” to the private owner, who is taxed for personal income. So the businesses targeted by this tax cut don’t pay much tax anyway and it really wouldn’t make a whole lot of difference.
But a tax cut is a tax cut, so this is actually good.
– Honour the expanded Universal Child Care Benefit.
This benefit is a mixed bag. For families that are net taxpayers, it amounts to a reduction of tax burden and is therefore good. For families that are net taxconsumers, it amounts to a form of welfare where people with no children are forced to subsidize people with children. This is unfair.
– Create $15-a-day national child care program, and create or maintain one million affordable child care spaces across Canada.
This is really bad. This is a huge tax on people with no children and a huge subsidy to people with children. That is unfair. It is also a huge boon to the the crony capitalists of the child care industry.
A better way to deal with the high prices of child care services would be to remove all associated regulations, licensing, and taxation. Quality and supply of child care would soar.
And what exactly should this national child care program consist of? Because it’s a government program, this will be decided by those with the most political influence — and that will never be the average parent.
– Cancel Conservative decision to increase OAS eligibility age to 67.
Evaluating this is a little more complicated than most proposals. On the one hand, OAS is welfare for old folks. This involves subsidizing old folks (who tend to have more accumulated wealth) by taxing younger people (who tend to have less accumulated wealth). Taking money from poorer people and giving it to wealthier people is a weird policy. On the other hand, old folks who are/were net taxpayers deserve to get all their money back, so the OAS could be considered on the same terms as taking a tax credit. Overall, the OAS is bad and should just be eliminated, and with that in mind increasing the age limit is probably better because the best result would be increasing the age limit to 1000 so no one could get it.
– Increase Canada Pension Plan contributions and benefits for Canadians.
The NDP makes these increased contributions sound compulsory, so that is bad. People should be able to opt out of CPP if they want.
Terrorism, War, and National Security
– End the bombing campaign and pull out all military personnel from Iraq and Syria; boost humanitarian aid to help refugees affected by ISIL as well as investigate and prosecute war crimes.
This is mostly good, as Canada’s role in the war against the Islamic State / ISIL / ISIS should end at immediately. No bombs, no troops, no military support for other countries participating in the conflict. It is a regional conflict between bitter enemies and all outside intervention is merely aggrandizing the situation. ISIS is no threat to our national security. It is certainly no “existential threat” as Harper says, and it is just delusional paranoia to think otherwise. ISIS is a small ragtag army with a few hardcore jihadi veterans and the rest is a bunch of losers. They have no navy, no air force, and they probably can’t even fix their sweet new Toyotas if they break down. This isn’t Nazi Germany or Soviet Russia, people.
However, the federal government should not provide humanitarian aid or help refugees or prosecute war crimes in other countries. It should not prevent Canadians from aiding in any way they see fit, whether that means letting refugees into their homes, sending aid overseas, or traveling to conflict zones to help directly. The government has no business bringing foreigners into the country and giving them welfare.
– Repeal Bill C-51, the anti-terrorism act.
This is a good policy. Bill C-51 is a dangerous law representing an aggressive attack on free speech, habeas corpus, privacy, and other features of the rule of law and civil liberties. All in the name of “security”, of course. It is premised on the bogus “War on Terror” so that automatically makes it awful. Realistically, the government doesn’t need more laws to catch bad guys, and C-51 just removes restrictions that make it harder for the government to punish innocent people.
– Provide more independent review of Canada’s national security agencies.
Independent review is meaningless, because anything in which the government is involved is political. The only way to limit the power of national security agencies is to cut their budgets or simply eliminate them. These proposals about having “better oversight” are useless.
– Support a counter-radicalization program.
I have been unable to find any clarity about that this means, but it is probably something stupid. Does it mean the government interfering with certain religious institutions, or institutions with unsavory political views, or crazy websites?
Actually, it probably involves more welfare to certain people, because there is a silly leftist-liberal notion that if you give people enough money and help from the government they won’t want to become terrorists.
Despite lack of details, it seems impossible that this policy wouldn’t be dumb,
– Continue opposing the Northern Gateway pipeline; it initially supported concept of west-east pipeline, but says Energy East can’t be approved without more stringent environmental review process; opposes Keystone XL pipeline.
Why does the NDP have to be so full of jerks? The Northern Gateway pipeline issue can be settled entirely between BC and Alberta — you know, the provinces actually touched by the pipeline route. There is no reason for Ottawa to have a say in the process at all.
Likewise for Energy East. The route touches six provinces and it can be sorted out between those provinces. There is no justification for Ottawa to impose more stringent environmental regulations when the provinces affected can handle that themselves.
One might contend that the Keystone XL pipeline is different because it goes to another country, but international borders are economically arbitrary and there is no justification for Ottawa to interfere here either. The Keystone XL pipeline really has nothing to do with Ottawa at all. It’s Alberta’s oil and the route only touches Alberta and a handful of American states. It should be an issue settled between Albertan and American property owners and the pipeline company.
Ottawa has no business either supporting or opposing any of these pipeline projects. The right choice is simply to decentralize the whole issue. The NDP is terrible on this issue.
– Create a cap-and-trade system with a market price on carbon emissions; revenue from cap-and-trade would be invested in a greener energy sector in regions where dollars are generated.
Horrible. Tax industries the NDP doesn’t like and subsidize politically-connected cronies in industries that the NDP does like. It would encourage people to shift resources out of productive sectors that are being taxed into nonproductive sectors that are being subsidized. This is one of the NDP’s worst policies so far.
– Work with provinces to create a new fund to help Canadians retrofit their homes and offices to save energy and money.
This is a subsidy to people who own homes and office buildings, which tend to be wealthier people. This would be paid for by people who don’t own homes or office buildings. This is a pathetic transfer of wealth from poorer people to wealthier people. Stupid and evil.
– Redirect $1 billion a year from fossil fuel subsidies to investment in the clean energy sector.
The government should not subsidize fossil fuels and it should not subsidize the clean energy sector. The government should simply eliminate the subsidies and let different forms of energy production be determined on their own merits.
– Invest in Sustainable Development Technology Canada – including wind, hydro, solar and geothermal technologies – to create thousands of new jobs for Canadians.
This is truly awful. What does “invest in Sustainable Development Technology Canada” mean? It means subsidizing what the government considers be worthy, so crony capitalism.
And here is a critical point: this doesn’t create jobs! The government has no resources of its own. To spend money to generate jobs in one sector, the government must take money from another sector, thus destroying jobs. This policy would actually leave the country poorer, giving us fewer real productive jobs, and more unproductive jobs. Again, this would encourage people to shift resources out of productive sectors that are being taxed into nonproductive sectors that are being subsidized. Just awful.
Infrastructure and Transport
– Dedicate an additional one cent of the existing 10-cents-per-litre federal gas tax to roads, bridges and other core infrastructure, reaching an additional $1.5-billion annually by the end of an NDP government’s first mandate, on top of almost $2.2 billion in existing annual gas tax transfers to municipalities.
This is a slight improvement all in all. It is better for the province to keep a bit of the money rather than having it all go to Ottawa. If the NDP were serious about their desire to help communities fix their infrastructure, they would just eliminate the federal gas tax completely and have that money stay in those communities. There is no reason why drivers in Nova Scotia should subsidize bridges in British Columbia or vice versa.
– Develop a better transit plan with the provinces and territories and invest $1.3 billion annually over next 20 years for predictable and stable public transit funding for municipalities.
A subsidy to public transit, which only benefits places with public transit. Why should people in rural Saskatchewan subsidize Toronto’s subway system, with Ottawa taking a big cut? Only a real jerk would support this.
Foreign Affairs and Defense
– Increase Canada’s foreign aid to 0.7 per cent of gross national income, or GNI (Canada currently spends 0.24 per cent of GNI on foreign aid).
Foreign aid? FOREIGN AID!? This tends to be the most unpopular form of government spending across the political spectrum, and the NDP wants to increase it? Nay, nearly triple it! Let’s not forget that foreign aid takes money from people in this country, and gives it to corrupt foreign governments that use the money to enrich themselves and their friends. Maybe the lowly people who need help will get a few pennies on the dollar, if they’re lucky. Also, foreign aid frequently comes with the stipulation it be spent on Canadian products, which amounts to a roundabout subsidy to certain politically favored big business.
This proposal is unbelievably stupid. The NDP should be embarrassed over how stupid this policy is.
– Reopen the nine Veterans Affairs regional offices closed by the Conservative government.
The Cons merely shifted resources around. It’s six of one thing or half a dozen of another. This is a non-issue. Veteran Affairs Canada should just be closed down completely, and veterans should automatically be exempt from all forms of taxation.
– Restore the six-per-cent annual increase to health-care transfers to the provinces.
The health care budget should be reduced every year, so this is a step in the wrong direction.
– Restore door-to-door home mail delivery by Canada Post for households that lost it under Conservative government.
This is a social issue? But no, the government should not decide how mail should be delivered. Canada Post should be privatized, all legal restrictions for private mail carriers should be eliminated, and the market should decide how mail will be delivered.
– Reinstate the mandatory long-form census, which the government replaced with the voluntary National Household Survey.
In other words, the government should force people to waste their time providing information that helps the government control their lives better — at gunpoint, if necessary. The long-form census is a disgrace to humanity and should never be reinstated. The short-form census should be completely voluntary.
Democratic Reform and Governance
– Replace the current first-past-the-post electoral system with a mixed member proportional system, which combines proportional representation of parties in House of Commons with direct election of MP in each riding.
Pointless fiddling with the broken system called democracy, and arguably this makes things worse by rewarding more populous provinces with more political influences.
– Abolish the Senate (which requires constitutional talks with the provinces).
Sure, everyone wants to abolish the Senate (except the senators). I don’t think this is a serious proposal, however.
– Strengthen the mandate and independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer and make the position an Officer of Parliament.
This is pointless and no one cares.
– Immediately decriminalize marijuana, where users aren’t criminally prosecuted so nobody goes to jail for smoking a joint; party is open to considering legalization, but is calling for a commission to consult Canadians and instruct Parliament on how to carefully regulate non-medical use.
Decriminalizing drug use is an improvement, but it preserves the black market and seemingly all laws about selling drugs. The war on drugs is a stupid failure and there is no reason to continue it.
Setting up a commission is a waste of time that will produce a giant report that no one will ever read. Marijuana should just be legalized without a fuss, along with every other drug, and no regulation or taxation at all.
– Introduce legislation demanding Supreme Court of Canada justices be bilingual.
Bilingualism is a bad government policy and this is a dumb proposal. Basically they are saying all the Supreme Court of Canada justices should be from Eastern Canada.
– Strengthen laws to keep drunk drivers off of streets.
They actually don’t need to strengthen any laws or create any new laws for this. They just need to enforce laws about injuring people or killing people or destroying property. As any drunk driving lawyer will tell you, the current system entails a perverse situation where the best way to kill someone and get a light punishment is to get drunk and hit them with your car. Therefore, this is a bad proposal.
– Call a national inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women, and act on other recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The high rate of homicide against Aboriginal women is awful (4.5x higher than other Canadian women), but a national inquiry doesn’t help the situation at all. It’s just a big waste of time and money.
Crimes should be investigated and evildoers should be prosecuted and punished. That’s it. The problem is that the RCMP apparently does a lousy job investigating crimes. What else is new? A national inquiry into the “social context”of murdered Aboriginal women doesn’t help that situation at all, because the RCMP is inherently inefficient.
If you really want “social context” regarding Aboriginal women and homicide, consider this: the government has done incredible damage to the indigenous people of Canada with its bureaucratic, Soviet-style rulership of this political sub-class. Aboriginals are subject to the most socialistic treatment of any Canadians, and unsurprisingly the consequences have been social dysfunction. We actually saw the same pattern in Soviet Russia. When you deny people their most basic, fundamental rights to property and make the state in charge of taking care of them, the result tends to be greater levels of dysfunction such as alcoholism and drug abuse, vagrancy, idleness, illegitimacy, promiscuity, criminal behavior, suicide, and wife-murdering or girlfriend-murdering. Maybe if the government gave some respect to aboriginal property rights their situation would start to turn around. Instead, it is content to maintain the status quo where the Crown owns all native land, and it is administered through a huge, inept bureaucracy and Soviet-like band councils.
– Reduce poverty, improve educational outcomes and increase opportunities for First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities across Canada.
If the NDP really wanted to do this they would abolish the Department of Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. We know they aren’t going to do that. Instead, this implies spending more money on a failed system and hurting First Nations, Inuit, and Métis even more. Hasn’t the government done enough to these people? Why does the NDP hate them so much?
– Create a cabinet committee, chaired by the prime minister, to ensure federal government decisions respect treaty rights and Canada’s international obligations.
No. Just… no. Abolish Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development. Let aboriginals actually own their land and homestead land currently owned by the Canadian state. Recognize the property rights of aboriginals. Anything else is a waste of time.
One can only infer that the NDP hates the aboriginal people of Canada.
The NDP platform is mostly full of dreadful policies that will make Canada worse. However, to their credit, they have a few policies that are relatively good.
Next time: CMR will look at the Liberal Party’s platform.