It’s tough deciding where to put my vote on the “left” and it’s not getting any easier this election.
Let’s take a look at my choices:
The traditional “safe” left-leaning vote, although there’s been a lot of talk recently about them having moved too far to the right. Their platform doesn’t have a lot of pizazz, at least on the surface, but that’s also not necessarily a bad thing. Given their past track record, I think they would make incremental improvements on some issues I care about, like environment/climate change, health care, education, etc, but it won’t be a whole lot. Importantly, I do believe they’d be good for the budget and economy, and wouldn’t over-spend.
I’ll admit I’ve always had a somewhat negative opinion of the NDP. I’d classify myself as “liberal” (left-leaning) on most matters, but at least economically I’m much more of a pragmatist. The NDP has always had the reputation of the irresponsible spenders on big social programs, and honestly, after taking a look at their current platform, I’d have to say that’s not too far off the mark. Here are the items in their platform that I can eyeball and classify as likely “new big ticket items” for the government:
- Doubling pension benefits
- Increase in the Guaranteed Income Supplement
- National child care program
- Post-secondary education transfers and benefits
- Home heating tax rebates and energy retrofit rebates
- Increase in child tax benefit
- Extending employment insurance
- Reducing small business taxes
- New business tax credits
- Lots of new “infrastructure” projects
- Improvements to the health care system, such as training more doctors and nurses
- Expanding public transit
- Hiring more police and other new community safety investments
Here are a few items I can think of that will have a questionable effect on the economy, so it’s yet unknown whether it would increase or decrease government revenues:
- A national minimum wage
- Carbon cap-and-trade system
Looking at those lists, there are items for everyone to love. There isn’t really anything I personally wouldn’t like. My next thought is “holy crap, how are you going to pay for all of that?” Of the 15 items above, if you took just 2 or 3 of them you could build a compelling platform, so why push a platform that obviously (to me) can’t be achieved? I know they don’t figure on becoming the government, so maybe they just listed everything they like, but if so that’s very disingenuous. Let’s compare their platform with the Greens.
At least on national polls, it looks like Green support is down to about 5 or 6% from about the 10% they got in the last election. I read their platform last election and I was surprised at how reasonable it was. Their economic models and assumptions don’t seem overly optimistic, at least on the surface, and they cost everything out. Here’s the Green 2011 platform budget. I won’t list out the new expenditures here, like I did for the NDP, because the Green budget conveniently lists them all, plus all budget reductions from elsewhere, and all itemized over the next 3 years too.
As many Canadians are, I’m torn between voting for who I really want to win versus who I think can win and achieve at least some of my interests. Since a Conservative won my riding by only 17 votes in the last election, strategic voting is more on my mind than it’s ever been before. But, honestly, I would feel kind of guilty voting purely strategically. I don’t think it’s wrong at all, but I guess I’m in more of a politically idealist mood lately. Since in Canada we have a unified conservative party but a fractured liberal side, I think the liberal parties need to cooperate and not be scared of the word “coalition”. I don’t see anything wrong with a coalition, but if the parties are afraid of it then they should know they’ll have to merge.