Tag Archives: Canadian politics

Time to Vote

The election is 10 days away. Advance voting starts today. You know what you need to do. Get out and vote.

After much deliberation, I’ll be voting NDP. I considered voting Green to really reinforce the idea that climate change is the most important issue facing Canada right now. Both the Greens and NDP have great platforms and are aligned on a lot of issues.

The biggest difference is the leader. I’ve been really impressed with Jagmeet Singh. He puts up with a lot of racist crap, but he’s still filled with optimism. I haven’t seen a federal leader with so much personality, conviction, and compassion since Jack Layton. Elizabeth May is a great environmental champion, but I don’t see her having the energy and charisma to bring people onside to tackle the problems we’re facing. Jagmeet Singh can.

Jagmeet and Me
And I got a Singh selfie before he became super popular

Looking beyond the party leaders, I’ve also considered policy and my local candidate. On the policy side, CBC, Macleans, and Gen Squeeze have good summaries of the party platforms. Personally, my top 3 priorities are climate change, housing affordability, and health care.

Climate Change and the Environment

The Greens have the most ambitious plan, the Liberals the most achievable. The NDP is in between on both measures. All three parties have commited to banning single use plastics. Check out CBC for a comprehensive comparison of each parties climate commitments.

Liberal Party
😇 Introduced a federal price on carbon
😡 Bought a pipeline for $4.5 billion
🌲 Plan to plant 2 billion trees

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😀 Expanding the carbon tax to industrial emitters
😍 Ending fossil fuel subsidies
😁 $15 billion for retrofitting buildings

Green Party
😍 Most ambitious carbon targets (60% reduction by 2030)
😁 Halt all new fossil fuel development projects
🌲 Plan to plant 10 billion trees

Conservative Party
🤢 Plan to scrap the carbon tax

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
🤮Think climate change is a hoax

Housing Affordability

Housing affordability is a hot topic, especially with millennials in Vancouver and Toronto. The federal government has a role to play in building affordable housing and purpose built rental, and ensuring speculation from foreign wealth isn’t distorting our housing markets.

Liberal Party
🙂 1% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 100,000 affordable housing units
😒 Useless First-time Home Buyer Incentive (at least in Vancouver)

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😄 15% Foreign Buyers Tax
🙂 500,000 affordable housing units
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Green Party
😐 25,000 affordable housing units
😀 Tax incentives for building purpose-built rental housing
🤔 Get rid of the first-time home buyer grant

Conservative Party
😖 Reintroducing CMHC-insured 30 year mortgages

Health Care

Last election, health care wasn’t that important to me. But now I have an adventurous, asthmatic child and work for a health software company.

Liberal Party
😴 Will continue to study pharmacare

New Democratic Party (NDP)
😍 Universal pharmacare
😀 Basic dental for families earning < $90,000 (first step toward universal dentalcare)

Green Party
😍 Universal pharmacare
🙂 Dental care for families earning < $30,000

Conservative Party
🤥 Promises not to cut any health spending

People’s Party of Canada (PPC)
😲 Give provinces full responsibility for health care
🤪 Cut all federal funding

Local Candidates

In my riding of Vancouver Centre, the NDP candidate Breen Ouellette was endorsed as one of the 35 environmental champions in Canada committed to bringing in a Green New Deal. I highly recommend checkout out this list (and LeadNow’s battleground champions) to see if anyone in your riding has been nominated. It’s a stellar crew.

The NDP has some great candidates in this election, and they reflect the diversity of Canada. 49% are women, 25% are from racialized communities, and 12% are from the LGBTQ community. You can really see the NDP’s commitment to fight inequality and racism comes from the top. Jagmeet Singh has been tremendous this campaign dealing with racist hecklers, responding the the Trudeau blackface incidents, and standing up for first nations access to clean drinking water.

By comparison, the Green Party is unfortunately still very white. Their candidates are 42% women but only 5% are visible minorities.

Strategic Voting

In a close race between the Liberals and Conservatives, you may feel tempted to vote strategically. Don’t. For two reasons.

  1. The Liberals lied about proportional representation last time. They don’t deserve another strategic vote.
  2. If we end up in a minority government situation (highly likely), we need as many NDP and Green MPs as possible to push the Liberals to act on important issues like climate change, pharmacare, and electoral reform.
  3. If you’re debating between the NDP and Greens, I’d recommend choosing the party with the platform that speaks to you or the local candidate you like the best. If you still can’t decide, you can look at polling data and riding level predictions form sites like 338canada.com but beware that riding level predictions are often garbage.

Vancouver Addendum

In Vancouver Centre, it’s an easy choice for me to vote NDP. In some of the other Vancouver ridings there are candidates from other parties that I might vote for.

In Vancouver East it’s a toss-up between Jenny Kwan (NDP), the incumbent MP who’s been a vocal environmental advocate and Bridget Burns (Green), who runs the Vegan Night Market.

In Vancouver Granville, it’s an easy choice to vote for Jody Wilson-Raybould (Independent) – former Liberal Justice minister who was kicked out by Justin Trudeau for standing up for judicial independence in the SNC-Lavalin affair.

In Vancouver Kingsway, it’s a toss-up between the incumbent MP Don Davies (NDP), who’s been a tireless advocate for pharmacare and dental care and Tamara Taggart (Liberal), who has really involved in local politics since retiring from broadcasting, advocating for rental housing and removing lead from school drinking water.

In Vancouver South, I’d be tempted to vote for Harjit Sajjan, the Liberal incumbent. He’s been a good Defence Minister and he’s running against Wai Young (Conservative) who used to represent the riding and is a toxic, anti-cyclist troll.

Wayne Easter and Meat Politics

cow

As evidence continues to mount that eating meat and dairy is not only detrimental to the planet but also to human health, politicians in Canada are stubbornly committed to supporting the animal agriculture industry.

Take the recent tweets of Wayne Easter, MP for Malpeque, PEI & member of Liberal Government of Canada, who proudly tweeted about his meeting with cattle lobbyists.

When he was questioned about the environmental and health impacts of animal agriculture, he responded with: “have a T-bone steak. It will make you feel better”.

https://twitter.com/WayneEaster/status/758744760068648960

Which offended many people and as the outrage mounted he tried the “I’m not racist, I have black friends” defence.

Before claiming that it was hard working farmers and their families that were being attacked, which is ridiculous as all of the replies to his tweets were respectful and focussed on public policy.

Unfortunately the questions that Canadians were asking still remain unanswered. I wonder if anyone in the Liberal Government can explain:

  • Why we subsidize animal agriculture when it is increasingly obvious it is not healthy for humans or the planet?
  • Why does the Canada food guide still have sections “Milk and Alternatives” and “Meat and Alternatives”. If it was based on the best science, it would look like the Harvard Healthy Eating Plate, which has a section for “Healthy Protein” and it recommends limiting milk consumption.
  • How will Canada meet its climate change commitments made in Paris (to limit global warming to 1.5 C) without reducing the amount of animal products that Canada produces and consumes?

harvard_healthy_plate

How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

Untitled
The NDP has always had strong environmental credentials, but in the past decade it has sat back and let other parties lead the charge. Although Jack Layton was a committed environmentalist, it often felt that environmental issues took a back seat to health care, education, and pensions during his leadership, and it was painful to watch the NDP oppose carbon taxes in BC and federally. As a result, people like me sometimes voted for the Green Party. But that’s changing.

The BC NDP now supports the carbon tax, and, more importantly, promises to use some of the proceeds to improve public transit. They’ve also strongly opposed the Enbridge pipeline to Kitimat, arguing not only against the environmental costs but the economic risks of the project to BC.

Federally, Thomas Mulcair has started pushing sustainable development in a big way, arguing that polluting industries need to internalize the costs of dumping pollution into the air, water, and land, including the oil sands. The ‘polluter pays’ principle. He’s also making an economic argument for protecting the environment.

I think it’s a smart strategy. Up until now, the debate has always pitted the environment against the economy. And when push comes to shove, the economy always wins. However, Mulcair is arguing that our zeal to export raw resources is harming other sectors of the economy, like manufacturing – the so called Dutch Disease. By framing sustainable development as an economic issue instead of a environmental one, Mulcair is creating a sharp contrast to the Conservative budget, which focuses on destroying the environment for economic gain.

And it looks like the Conservatives are scared. The last 3 polls have all shown the NDP in the lead, but the economy is the Conservative trump card. If Mulcair can convince Canadians that the Conservative’s approach to the environment is in fact harming the economy outside of the oil patch, the NDP lead will continue to grow. This interview with Mulcair explains his ideas in his own words. It’s worth watching, and I’d embed the video but CTV’s video player sucks.
Continue reading How the NDP Found its Green Mojo

NDP Leadership Candidates – The Bald, Beard, & Brains

I’m still trying to decide who to vote for in the NDP leadership race. I didn’t know much about the candidates before, so I’ve been watching the debates and following the blogosphere. My criteria for leader – charisma, inspiration, and the ability to defeat Stephen Harper. Here’s who’s impressed me the most.

Nathan Cullen1. The BaldNathan Cullen
More than any of the other candidates, Nathan Cullen thrives in debates. Why isn’t he on tv more? He’s exciting, knowledgeable, and funny. Electoral reform and the environment (whoot!) are his top priorities, and he’s been a strong opponent of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Lastly, he wants to beat Stephen Harper so bad he’s willing to consider joint nominations with the Greens and Liberals in some ridings. Most progressives I know would applaud him for this, but within some NDP circles the idea is kryptonite. I was a bit skeptical at first (as a voter I like having choice), but the plan has merits.
Strengths: Environmentalist, amazing debater, and willing to be bold.

Thomas Mulcair2. The BeardThomas Mulcair
More than any of the candidates, Mulcair looks like he should be Prime Minister. It’s the way he speaks. He’s normally calm and reasoned, but he can also be extremely passionate. His environmental credentials are top-notch, but he is often questioned about his commitment to the NDP because he comes from the Quebec Liberal Party. Personally, I think the NDP needs to widen its base and Mulcair is a good example of that. The real question is can the NDP transition from a great mustache to a great beard?
Strengths: Environmentalist, articulate in both languages, and passionate.

Brian Topp addresses supporters3. The BrainsBrian Topp
Brian Topp is considered the brains behind the NDP’s breakthrough in the past few years. He’s a smart guy and he’s reasonably charismatic, especially if you compare him to Stephen Harper. On a policy front, his priorities are fairer taxes and increasing funding to social services. The left-wing side of the NDP love him, and he’s received the most high-profile endorsements. His youtube channel is full of slick videos and celebrity endorsements, but he doesn’t excite me as much as Cullen or Mulcair.
Strengths: Smart and progressive.

If you want to get a better sense of the candidates, the debates are online. Here’s a collection of short youtube clips starting with a funny one from 22 Minutes.

Continue reading NDP Leadership Candidates – The Bald, Beard, & Brains