Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the UN Security Council’s rare universal condemnation of and call for an investigation into Israel killing Palestinain-American Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh harassed in Peterborough, Francois Legault refusing to participate in an English Leaders’ Debate and Elon Musk pausing his purchase of Twitter.
On a Saturday edition of FTB Fridays, Jason C. McLean and Dawn McSweeney discuss the recent deal between Jagmeet Singh’s NDP and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals, François Legault and the upcoming Quebec election and the ongoing Ukraine invasion.
Jagmeet Singh and the Federal NDP struck a deal with Justin Trudeau’s Minority Liberal Government to support them electorally when it comes to confidence motions until 2025, giving the Libs a defacto Majority Government. In exchange, the NDP (and Canadians) get dental care gradually implemented until everyone earning less than $70 000 a year is covered by 2025, a Canada Pharmacare Act passed by the end of 2023 and other New Democrat priorities that, until now, the Libs have only given lip service to, actually worked on.
This is exactly how minority parliaments can produce good results. It’s also another smart political move on the part of Singh and a surprisingly cautious one on the part of Trudeau. Or, as some commenters have put it, a tyrannical power grab.
Allow me to address the last group first: I won’t bother explaining how parliamentary democracy works or even go beyond seat counts and mention that in 2021, the total combined vote percentage for the Liberals and NDP was 50.44%, compared to 48.65% if you add up the percentages the Conservatives, the Bloc Québécois, the People’s Party and (why not) the Green Party got. You won’t think anything but what you want happening is legit.
I will, though, ask you what’s worse: a defacto Trudeau Majority until 2025 with free dental or a proper Trudeau Majority until 2027 with nothing but what the Liberals want? Because the latter is exactly what we would get if there was an election next year with Pierre Poilievre leading the Conservative Party (CPC).
A right-wing CPC Leader might please the party base, neutralize the People’s Party and win a handful of seats in the Prairies, but even tacit association with or presumed endorsement of the unrest in Ottawa would destroy the party’s chances in the 905 and 519 area codes, the riding-rich areas surrounding Toronto, where federal elections are generally decided in Canada. Also, Poilievre’s flirtation with hard social conservatives would cause some progressive-minded voters to not risk voting NDP and select the Libs out of fear.
So, the question I have for fellow progressives and NDP supporters who may be less than thrilled at the prospect of the New Democrats propping up Trudeau is a slightly altered one (I already assume you understand how parliamentary democracy works): Would you prefer supporting three years of Liberal rule with key NDP policies being enacted or Liberal rule until at least 2027 with no concessions and a weakened New Democrat caucus?
Some opposition members have also dubbed this a “power grab” by Trudeau. They’re wrong, of course. If this is a power grab by anyone, it’s by Singh on behalf of those who support NDP policy.
The “on behalf of” part is crucial. This isn’t a formal Coalition Government. Don’t expect NDP MPs to occupy cabinet posts. It’s the policies that have power, policies that when implemented Trudeau may very well get credit for.
Yes, that’s a risk, but it’s a calculated one and a worthwhile one to take. Singh is getting things done and doing an excellent job as an opposition leader. While he won’t get the full credit if and when these plans are implemented, he is showing the power of voting NDP and giving New Democrats a larger voice.
Sure, these wins aren’t perfect (I, for one, would have preferred immediate coverage of all dental for everyone under the Canada Health Act) and they aren’t confirmed wins yet. Quebec Premier François Legault has already promised to challenge dental care and pharmacare on provincial jurisdictional grounds and says other premiers such as Doug Ford will do the same (Let’s make “Legault wants me to have a toothache” an election year slogan, shall we?).
Regardless of the outcome, though, it is a great step forward for Singh and the NDP. I am surprised why Trudeau jumped on, though. He could have waited a year and got the majority he was setting himself up for.
Maybe he thought that Poilievre wouldn’t win the CPC nom after all (Jean Charest is polling well) so he decided to play it safe. Maybe he thought that he could get some popular policies through and use the NDP deal as political cover for his corporate donors who may not like some of them.
Or maybe, for Trudeau and Singh, this is about exactly what they said it was: stability.
Regardless, I’m really starting to like the possibilities minority parliaments have to offer.
Monday is Election Day in Canada. Host Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Samantha Gold discuss the latest polls, whether or not calling this election was a good idea, the youth vote and more.
Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean
Jason C. McLean and Special Guest Dawn McSweeney go through some of the week’s top news, roundup-style.
The US leaving Afghanistan
The 2021 Canadian Federal Election
OnlyFans dropping explicit content
Forced sterilization of Native women in Saskatchewan
Gatineau boy’s father denied human rights complaint
It’s official. After a quick 36 day campaign, Canadians will head to the polls on September 20th. This morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asked Governor General Mary Simon to dissolve the current Minority Parliament in place since October 2019, which she did.
As Trudeau seeks a Majority, his Government’s handling of the pandemic will most likely play a dominant role in the five week campaign. The current pandemic situation will also directly effect the election itself, with all poll workers masked, a fresh pencil for each voter, hourly cleaning and some provinces not allowing schools to be used as polling places. Whether or not voters themselves will have to mask up depends on the current provincial health rules in place where they live.
While Trudeau had hoped to pass legislation allowing for three days of voting, it came off the table when Parliament was dissolved. Voting will be limited to election day, advanced polling days and mail-in ballots, which Elections Canada expects a significantly larger than average number of.
Trudeau argued that this election is necessary to give voters a say in the COVID recovery: “In this pivotal, consequential moment, who wouldn’t want a say? Who wouldn’t want their chance to help decide where our country goes from here?”
While the opposition parties all say they are ready, they are also critical of the decision to call the election. NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh called it a “selfish” election and argued that Trudeau is calling it “to be able to do less, not more” for Canadians in need, referring to the fact that his party was able to push the Minority Government for more in the COVID support benefits like the CERB and CRB.
All parties now have the shortest amount of time allowed by law to make their case.
Featured Image by Coolcaesar via WikiMedia Commons
Activist Sam Hersh joins Jason C. McLean to talk about the NDP’s Palestine Resolution, which he and a group of Palestinian and Jewish activists helped pass with 80% support at last weekend’s convention and the ensuing reaction from NDP leadership and others.
Follow Sam Hersh on Twitter @SamHersh01
Follow Jason C. McLean on Twitter @jasoncmclean
On the latest FTB Fridays, host Jason C. McLean and guest panelists Samantha Gold and Jerry Gabriel take a look back at 2020 covering federal and provincial politics, the US Election, streaming services and, of course, COVID.
Happy New Year!
On this edition of FTB Fridays, Jason C. McLean and special guest Niall Clapham-Ricardo discuss Canadian Politics, Minority Parliaments, Canada getting the COVID Vaccine after Mexico, International working-class solidarity and Jagmeet Singh Twitch streaming with AOC.
Featured Image via WikiMedia Commons (from Sam on Flickr)
Now that the second COVID-19 lockdown has taken effect here in Montreal and people are upset with the Legault Government for its seemingly haphazard approach (no gatherings but schools are still open), I think it’s a good time to take a trip back to last week. Way back when our Federal politicians were responding to the pandemic by doing exactly what a Minority Parliament should do — or at least some of them were.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh not only knows how to do his job effectively, he excels at it. He currently has the job of both opposition leader in a Minority Parliament and the head of a party that, at its core, looks out for the average working-class Canadian.
Last Wednesday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s governing Liberal Party delivered their Throne Speech, complete with tons of unnecessary pomp and circumstance. I’m talking about a five minute minivan ride from the Senate Building to the House of Commons and back to pick up the MPs who had already agreed to attend, all carried on live TV.
The speech itself was full of platitudes and vague promises. That didn’t stop the Conservative Party, our Official Opposition, from saying that they would vote against it because there was nothing specifically for the West. The Bloc Québécois, meanwhile, indicated that they would vote against it unless there were extra transfers to the provinces (to Quebec, really) without conditions on how the money was to be spent, so a no-go.
Since the Liberals are a Minority Government and the Throne Speech is one of those things that needs to pass if they are to hold power, all eyes shifted to the NDP. Singh’s New Democrats are the only remaining party that holds enough seats to avoid a fall election by voting with the Libs in favour of the speech.
Turning Words Into Action
In his press conference following the speech, Singh said that the Throne Speech was just “words on paper” with no real-world effect. He made it clear that if the Libs wanted the NDP to vote Yea on it, they needed to turn some of that flowery language into legislation before the vote.
In particular, Singh outlined that the NDP wanted two things:
- When the government transitions the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to the Canadian Recovery Benefit (CRB), they won’t claw back $400 a month and turn $2000 a month into $400 a week every two weeks. The bi-weekly approach is fine for the NDP, but they want it kept at $500 a week.
- Federal paid sick leave for Canadian workers.
This set off a predictable series of questions from reporters trying to get Singh to make a firm commitment on the Throne Speech vote, casting what he was asking for as amendments. Singh held his ground and even corrected one journalist who erroneously claimed that no other legislation was possible before the Throne Speech vote.
Turns out Singh was right. Bill C-2 is currently being tabled in Parliament with the changes the NDP asked for.
This legislation dealing with the transition from CERB to CRB will no longer cut $400 a month from benefits. Singh announced this negotiation victory in a Facebook post last Thursday:
Then, last Friday evening, we got word that C-2 would also include a massive extension of access to paid sick leave. And with that, news that the NDP would vote for the Throne Speech, provided, of course, C-2, when tabled, includes the negotiated changes, which it does.
That, my friends, is how you do it. You don’t focus on electoral politics or that weird little cult the PM was part of (We Charity), you recognize that a political opponent needs your support to survive and you use this as an opportunity to get some concrete policy that will actually help people enacted in exchange for it.
This isn’t a time for political glory, but rather one of policy success. Sure, it’s Justin Trudeau who will be proverbially signing the cheques, but everyone knows Jagmeet Singh raised the amount on them.
You don’t ask for the moon, either. Instead, ask for a couple of things that are major, but that you also have a real chance of getting.
As for the Liberals, this was a real no-brainer. On one hand, they could accept a couple of changes that would only endear them to the left and the recipients of the benefits while, at the same time, not lose any corporate donors because they “had to do it” to get the NDP on board. On the other hand, they avoid an election during a pandemic that they very well may be blamed for.
Minority Parliament FTW
Minority Parliaments in recent years (recent decades, to be honest) have been treated by the public, the media and the Members of Parliament themselves as placeholder governments. The party in power just wants to turn it into a Majority, while the opposition parties are looking for the right moment to bring the government down without being tagged with it going into a new election.
That’s unfortunate, considering what Minority Parliaments have achieved in the past. In 1966, for example, a Minority Parliament passed our first National Universal Healthcare law.
That was also a Liberal Minority Government being supported/propped up and pushed further left by a strong NDP.
Who knows what we’ll get if the Trudeau-Singh show keeps going? Some are even speculating Universal Basic Income (UBI).
Sure, UBI may be a pipe dream, but we currently have the right plumbers for it. Even if it doesn’t happen, though, our current Minority Parliament may achieve more than any Liberal or Conservative Majority has in the past half-century.
At the very least, though, we can be happy that, for the first time in a long time, a Minority Parliament is behaving the way it should.
Featured image by Makaristos via Wikimedia Commons
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh came to the House of Commons Wednesday intending to get unanimous consent on a motion calling out systemic racism in the RCMP. He was forced to leave early because apparently calling out racism in other house members violates parliamentary decorum.
The motion calls on the House to recognize that systemic racism exists within the RCMP. It also calls on the government to review the federal police force’s budget as well as accountability measures and training and raise non-police spending on mental health and addiction support.
It should have been easy to pass. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki has even admitted that systemic racism does exist within the force.
The Liberals supported the motion, so did the Greens. Even the Conservatives didn’t stand against the obvious reality that everyone knew and were ready to give it unanimous approval.
Enter the Bloc Québécois with a very audible objection. What happened next wasn’t picked up by the mics, but it turns out that it doesn’t really matter.
Singh told Speaker Anthony Rota, after Bloc MP Claude DeBellefeuille raised an objection, that there was no need to listen to a recording of the exchange as yes, he did indeed call Bloc MP Alain Therrien racist. When asked to apologize, Singh refused and Rota, at the Bloc’s urging, told Singh he would have to leave the chamber for the rest of the day for using “unparliamentary language” and not apologizing.
Apologize? No, an apology is something that is warranted when someone uses vulgar language or makes an unfounded insinuation. Or if someone uses racist language themselves.
At least that’s what it should be. I couldn’t find racist on this list of banned words in Parliament from 2011, but if it was added later, it shouldn’t have been.
What the speaker was asking Singh to do was retract an accusation while using the language of parliamentary decorum as a smokescreen. After leaving the chamber, Singh held a press conference (which you should watch) where he reiterated that opposing the motion was, in and of itself, racist.
The Bloc later claimed that it blocked the motion because it supports a request that a Commons public safety committee study the existence of systemic racism in the RCMP and that it would be “inappropriate” to jump the gun by saying systemic racism exists. Translation: Instead of doing anything about the problem we all know is there, let’s go back to debating if the problem exists.
But why? As Singh mentioned in his press conference, the RCMP is clearly under Federal jurisdiction, so there is no trampling of Quebec’s autonomy involved.
If it was a call to look into systemic racism in the SQ (which there is, btw), I’d get the Bloc being up in arms. But it’s not and now the Bloc is defending the RCMP in a way that the RCMP doesn’t even want to defend itself.
It’s, as Singh admitted, a small step but a logical one. If the Conservatives aren’t afraid of bigots in their base turning on them over this, I can’t imagine the Bloc being scared about it.
So if opposition isn’t about Quebec’s jurisdiction or even a political ploy and it’s clearly not about the public interest, what does that leave? Racism.
In his press conference, Singh referenced Therrien’s dismissive gesture after he caught the NDP Leader’s eye. That reads to me like “look at my privilege, I’m doing this because I want to. And you can’t stop me. What are you going to do? Call me a racist?”
And Singh did. And the Bloc cowered and begged the Speaker to punish the him for stepping out of line and calling out racism. And the Speaker obliged.
Or, as Niall put it:
Systemic racism is having the first racialized leader in Canadian history calling out racism in the HoC and then being asked to apologize for doing so… #Gaslighting101Posted by Niall Meyshar on Wednesday, June 17, 2020
The Bloc are fucking racist for opposing this motion. If I was in Parliament, I would apologize for the curse word, but not for the assertion. And Jagmeet Singh has nothing to apologize for.
“I called it! Liberal Minority Government.”– Pretty much every Canadian political pundit on Election Night, professional or otherwise, and even me this time.
The 2019 Canadian Federal election turning out the way it did was, for the most part, about as predictable as Justin Trudeau taking selfies in the Montreal Metro the next day. The next few years in Canadian politics, though, are about as unpredictable as which metro lines will go down with service interruptions every other day.
When the Trudeau shine started to fade and NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh’s popularity rose, the Liberals pulled the old strategic voting chestnut out of their playbook and ran with it. A Majority Government was now out of the question but the fear of Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer coming to power made a Liberal Minority Government almost inevitable.
Fear-based strategic voting helped to lower the NDP seat count in most of the country, including on the Island of Montreal, but a resurging Bloc Québécois undid what was left of the Orange Wave in Quebec. That last part is both the most unfortunate turn of events and a little bit unexpected.
I honestly had thought the Bloc was done for and irrelevant. But they found their relevance through an appeal to bigotry and now both the second and third-place parties in this Liberal Minority are right-wing.
Yes, the Bloc are progressive on some issues, most notably the environment, but their support of the xenophobic Bill 21 means they are not a progressive party. Secularism of the state means no state-imposed religion, banning public-sector employees from wearing religious symbols on the job is nothing more than an attack on customs that aren’t white and European in origin designed to appeal to bigoted fear of the “other” and latent Eurocentric white supremacist instincts.
Speaking of bigots, the People’s Party of Canada didn’t get enough people to vote for them to win them one seat, even leader Maxime Bernier’s in Beauce. So that’s a good thing.
Trudeau Has Many Options
Minority Liberal governments with a strong NDP (and despite losses, this NDP is strong, more on that later) have given us some great things in the past. Universal healthcare and the Canada Pension Plan are just a couple of examples.
These happened, though, because the NDP (and a few Red Tories) were able to force the Libs to the left. I’m not sure if the makeup of the incoming Parliament will offer the same sort of incentives.
In fact, Justin Trudeau may very well still be in the drivers’ seat as long as he switches up who rides shotgun depending on the bill. If it’s a social issue, say protecting LGBTQ rights, call on Singh and the NDP for support. SNC Lavalin investigation rearing its head again? Yves-François Blanchet and the Bloc have your back. Want to build a pipeline? Pretty sure Scheer and the Official Opposition Conservatives won’t oppose this one, officially or otherwise.
No wonder it was Trudeau selfie time the next day. While this doesn’t give him the same power his last majority did, he has the right setup to stay in power for a while and get most of what he wants done.
And he knows it. He’s already ruled out forming a Coalition Government and announced he plans to move ahead with the Trans-Mountain pipeline.
The Power’s in the Details
That doesn’t mean that the opposition parties are powerless, far from it. Their power, though, won’t be felt in what gets put on the table, but rather in the tweaks they get to make to proposed legislation in exchange for their support.
It’s also crucial for them to be the party that Trudeau needs support from. If he goes to the Cons, they’ll make him move to the right. If he goes to the NDP, they’ll make him move to the left. If he goes to the Bloc, they’ll just try and get some sort of special deal for Quebec.
The first vote will be on the budget, which is automatically a confidence vote. If Trudeau puts Trans-Mountain into it, there’s no way the Bloc or NDP could support it, so he’ll have to rely on the Cons, which will push the rest of the budget to the right.
If he leaves the pipeline out for now and adds a bunch of progressive things, then the NDP can push him just a bit more to the left. Yes, they’ll be making him look good, but also potentially getting a better deal for everyone.
I suspect that out of the gate, Trudeau won’t go to his right, because he knows another election will happen sooner rather than later. But honestly I really don’t know.
Opposition Leaders Should Be Safe
I have been hearing some talk from certain members of the opposition parties (except the Bloc, for obvious reasons) demanding their respective leader’s political head on a platter. While some of the “Scheer/May must go!” calls have merit and none of the calls to replace Singh do (more on that later), I suspect none of the opposition leaders are going anywhere.
Simply put, no one replaces a leader in a Minority Parliament unless the party establishment wanted them gone before the election (see Stéphane Dion). It’s just too risky, even for the well-funded parties (see Michael Ignatieff).
For the parties whose pockets aren’t as deep, paying for a leadership race and then potentially paying to compete in another election campaign a year later could be financially disastrous. Also, what happens if the government falls and your party doesn’t have a new leader in place yet?
Singh Has Reason to Celebrate
If you watched Jagmeet Singh talk on election night, it really came across as a victory speech (or at least it did until Scheer cut him off only to be cut off himself by Trudeau). And with good reason.
This wasn’t the decimation of the NDP many had predicted just a few months ago. There was a Singh Surge, it just didn’t turn into the wave New Democrats had hoped for.
I’m sure there will be arguments that the NDP should ditch Singh now because they pushed Thomas Mulcair out after he won more seats. Yeah, Mulcair’s seat count after the 2015 election may have been bigger, but he actually lost more seats than Singh did.
Mulcair went from a pre-election total of 95 seats, already down from the 103 the party won under Jack Layton, to 44 , meaning the party lost 51 seats (including a good chunk of the Orange Wave) on his watch. Singh, by contrast, went from 39 to 24, only losing 15 seats.
Singh may not have stopped the bleeding entirely, but he bandaged it up pretty well. Also, holding 24 seats with a Liberal Minority Government in power is potentially a more powerful position to be in than holding 44 seats with a Liberal Majority in place.
It’s important not to forget that while Mulcair may have been a solid Member of Parliament and even Deputy Leader, his tenure as leader was due to a deal he didn’t live up to his part of. The party let him move the NDP to the right and in exchange he promised them they would form government but they didn’t.
If you make a deal with the Devil and the best the Devil can deliver is third place, you get out of that deal as fast as you can. Singh, on the other hand, campaigned as a bold and progressive New Democrat, one Trudeau couldn’t outflank on the left, and did okay.
Yes, some solid Quebec NDP seats were lost and Alexandre Boulerice, the party’s Deputy Leader, currently holds the only New Democrat seat in Quebec, but Singh didn’t abandon us, at least not in his speech. He wants to win back what Mulcair lost and what he was unable to hold on to.
Now, with a Minority Parliament, who really knows what will happen next. It’s going to be an interesting few years (or months).
It wasn’t even close. 51% of respondents in the Forget The Box 2019 Canadian Federal Election Poll cast their online vote for the NDP.
That means Leader Jagmeet Singh and his fellow New Democrats get an official endorsement on behalf of our readers. While I can’t be sure why our readers picked the NDP, as someone who also voted for them (both in this poll and IRL through advanced polling last week), I suspect it’s mainly due to their solidly progressive platform and the strength of their leader.
Bold and Unapologetically Progressive Agenda
Policy-wise, the NDP isn’t pulling any punches this election cycle. They’re offering concrete measures to fight income inequality.
They plan to cover prescription drugs for all Canadians and dental care for families making up to $70 000 a year. They also want more affordable housing and public education from “kindergarten to career” (aka tuition-free college). And they’re promising clean drinking water for all First Nations communities.
Their social agenda which includes stronger protections for LGBTQ rights and plans to combat hate both online and in the streets may seem like what the Liberals are offering, but come without sacrificing the planet. Trudeau’s Sunny Ways without having to buy a pipeline or screw over Indigenous children in court.
Their environmental policy is pretty much as green as that of the Greens, but doesn’t come with any of the unfortunate baggage a vote for Elizabeth May’s team does. It’s saving the planet without having to endorse the handful of problematic and bigoted candidates still running under the Green banner or May’s non-commitment to reproductive rights.
The Jagmeet Singh Factor
One thing the NDP really has going for them this time out is their leader. Jagmeet Singh is clearly charismatic and comes across as strong, compassionate and direct when needed but also calm and reflective when the situation calls for it.
He had the best jab during the English debate when he referred to Justin Trudeau and Andrew Scheer as Mister Delay and Mister Deny respectively. He also had the best jab at the media when he when he was asked about how much clean drinking water on reserves would cost and responded by asking the journalist if he would have the same question if the water was unsafe in Toronto or Montreal.
Singh is also the first candidate of colour to ever run for Prime Minister of Canada and the first to do so wearing a turban. When a man in Montreal suggested he cut his turban off to “look more Canadian”, Singh calmly, yet directly explained that he does look Canadian and Canadians look all sorts of ways.
Singh can deal with bigots as gracefully and directly as he can deal with establishment politicians. If the NDP wins or does well in this election, it will largely be because of their leader, not in spite of him.
The Rest of the Field
Our second place finisher, with 14% of the vote, is Deez Nuts. Seriously.
No, this wasn’t one of the choices we put on the poll. We only listed registered parties, but made it possible for people to add their own choice.
The troll-like voices of discontent didn’t split the vote, instead opting to all line up behind Deez. In fact, if you combine those votes with the ones for the official None of the Above option we left, we get 16% of people dissatisfied with all the legit choices.
That’s a perfectly expected number. So is the Conservative Party getting only 10% and the Bloc garnering only two of the 140 votes cast. We are, after all, a left-leaning site in our editorials and our readership is by and large on the progressive side of things.
What was not expected, though, is that the Liberals and Greens tied with the Cons, each getting only 10%. I guess when you eliminate any need for strategic voting, progressives stick, by and large, with the most progressive choice.
If you voted in this poll, the only thing left to do (if you haven’t already) is vote in the actual election. You can do so today and find out how via Elections Canada. We’ll have the results tonight and analysis tomorrow.
Featured Image: Painting by Samantha Gold
With the 2019 Canadian Federal Election looking like it might be a close one, we’re hearing calls for strategic voting once again. The narrative, coming mostly from Liberal supporters online is a familiar one: If you vote for anyone other than a Liberal, you’re helping to elect Andrew Scheer and his ultra-regressive Conservatives (or basically re-elect Stephen Harper).
The Liberals are acting like they’re still “Canada’s natural governing party” and the only alternative to the Conservatives. In reality, they’re the group who were in third place just five years ago until they vaulted to Majority Government last election, defying expectations.
This time, though, it looks like people are realizing that the Lib tricks are soo 2011. If the Liberals could jump like that, then if everyone who supports the NDP votes for the NDP instead of strategically, we might just have Jagmeet Singh as our next Prime Minister.
Minority or Coalition
Or, as the latest polling indicates, we may be headed for a Liberal Minority Government where the NDP could hold the balance of power, which would mean the NDP could force the Libs to the left on key issues. Even if Scheer gets the most seats, but not enough to form a majority, we could be looking at a Liberal-NDP Coalition Government, which could be interesting.
Such a scenario is a very real possibility, but don’t just take my word for it. Scheer clearly thinks a coalition could happen. So much so that he came out swinging against the very notion of it.
The Conservative leader is pushing the narrative that since the “modern convention” has the party that wins the most seats forming government, that needs to happen. He should ask former BC Premier Christy Clark if the “modern convention” helped her out at all.
We almost had a Liberal/NDP coalition government in 2008 but Stephen Harper prorogued Parliament. He knew that the break would give the Liberal Party establishment enough time to show Stéphane Dion the door.
Harper bet that the Lib brass would rather be in opposition with their handpicked leader Michael Ignatieff than let fluke candidate Dion elevate himself to PM and he was right. The coalition evaporated about as quickly as Liberal relevance under Ignatieff did the following election.
This time around, though, the Liberals are very much the party of Trudeau. Their goal is to keep him in power by any means necessary.
Obviously Trudeau doesn’t want to talk about a coalition before the votes are cast. Doing so would invalidate his party’s “only way to stop Scheer” narrative. But if it turns out a coalition with the NDP is the only way he can keep his job, he will take it.
Broken Promise as a Campaign Tool
Funny thing is, strategic voting wouldn’t even be a thing this time around of Trudeau had made good on his 2015 election promise to bring in electoral reform. He didn’t even try.
Why would he? Our current First-Past-The-Post system works very well for his party and the Conservatives. It was only when the Liberals found themselves in a crouch that he even brought it up.
Most electoral reform models involve switching from FPTP to some form of Proportional Representation. They have their strengths and weaknesses, which I go through in a post on my personal blog (so as not to get too sidetracked here) and also propose a model of my own.
The only party that will actually bring in electoral reform or at least put it to a vote in a referendum is a party that campaigned on it and then finds itself in power for the first time under the current system. Changing how it works is not just a promise to voters for them, but a way to ensure that their party and other smaller parties don’t continue to suffer the same disadvantage that kept them out of power for decades.
Therefore, Liberal and Conservative voters who support electoral reform voting for Jagmeet Singh and the NDP this election would, in fact, be a strategic vote. And it’s the only kind of strategic voting I can get behind.
For everyone else, let your vote, your real vote, count!
Featured image by ishmael n. daro via Flickr Creative Commons
For the first time, younger voters are set to overtake the baby boomers as the largest voting block in Canada, and it’s about time. The planet is dying due climate change, and wages have stagnated since the 1970s resulting in a wealth gap that is partly on generational lines.
While older people enjoy their golf courses and retirement nestegs, Millenials, Gen Xers, and GenYers who will never see the latter are increasingly frustrated and demanding change that helps them, not just their parents.
That said, only recently has there been a real drive to get younger people to vote, recognizing that their votes can finally make a difference. It is with this notion in mind that I write this article.
In this piece I’ll be giving a crash course on the main political parties, but not in the way you’d expect. Instead of discussing their platforms related to the economy and health care, I’m going to discuss the parties based on their plans and track records with regards to issues that concern younger voters: Climate change, LGBTQI2+ rights, and Income Inequality.
This is not to say these issues do not concern some older people. It IS to say that these are the issues that have not been sufficiently addressed for younger voters by politicians in the past.
For the purposes of this article, the main parties I’ll be discussing are the Liberal Party, The Conservative Party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), and The Green Party. Smaller fringe parties like Maxime Bernier’s People’s Party will be addressed in a future article.
First, as Montreal took to the streets yesterday, let’s talk about Climate change.
The incumbent Liberal party’s Climate change platform seems to benefit primarily the wealthy, with much of their programs targeting homeowners – when most young Canadians will never be able to afford to own a home – and corporations. Their platform in this regard includes:
- Offering a $40 000 interest-free loan to homeowners and landlords to make their homes more energy efficient, with an additional Net-zero emissions home grant available to make clean living more affordable.
- Cut corporate taxes in half for companies that develop products and technologies that produce zero emissions
- Protect 25% of Canada’s land and ocean habitats by 2025 and work towards increasing that to 30% by 2030
- Set a target of zero emissions by 2050
The New Democratic Party’s Climate Change platform seems far more ambitious than that of the incumbents, with plans focusing on punishing big polluters and investing in local clean projects. Their platform includes:
- Declaring a climate emergency
- Rolling back tax breaks given by the Liberal government to big polluters as well as abolishing current oil and gas subsidies
- Reaching a target of carbon-free electricity by 2030, and 100% non-emitting electricity by 2050
- Establishing a Canadian Climate Bank to boost investment in Canadian-made renewable energy technology, community-owned clean energy projects and the transition to renewable energy
The Conservative Party’s climate change policy seems far less comprehensive compared to the other parties, and leader Andrew Scheer’s absence from today’s climate marches is also quite telling. Their policy includes:
- Getting rid of the carbon tax (though their website claims they are still committed to meeting obligations under the Paris Agreement)
- Launch a green tech patent tax credit for businesses
- Offering a green public transit tax credit to alleviate costs of public transportation and incentivize its use
- Have Canada sign agreements allowing us to get credit for helping reduce emissions internationally
True to the party’s name, The Green Party has the most comprehensive climate change platform to address the climate emergency. Their platform includes:
- Canceling the Trans Mountain Pipeline and other subsidies to fossil fuel industries, as well as denying approval to new pipelines, coal, oil, or gas drilling
- Ramp up renewable energy targets, with a target of making a hundred percent of Canada’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030
- Work with provincial governments, “ideally in partnership with First Nations” to determine which former oil and gas wells are best-suited to producing geothermal energy in order to turn liabilities into income-generating renewable energy
- Ban the sale of internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030
Though the Liberal Party has no official 2019 platform regarding LGBTQ rights, they do have an excellent track record when it comes to protecting sexual minorities in Canada. Aside from the symbolism of their leader marching in Pride Parades and raising the Pride flag on Parliament Hill, the government has made some dramatic improvements to LGBTQ rights in Canada.
This includes adding gender identity or expression to the definition of hate crimes in the Canadian Criminal Code, as well passing legislation to permanently destroy the past criminal records of people convicted for consensual sex with same sex partners if such sex would be legal today.
The New Democrats have integrated LGBTQ rights into their platform on fighting hate in Canada. Their list of the different forms of hate to be addressed include homophobia and transphobia, with their platform including better access for victims of hate crimes to services, support, as well as a say in court-related services that may impact their safety.
Their platform also includes establishing a National Working Group to fight online hate, and addressing radicalization though youth-focused community-led initiatives.
Symbolically, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh has been seen at Pride parades and drag shows, tipping generously at the latter.
On LGBTQ rights in Canada, it is the Conservative Party that has by far the most to answer for. Their leader, Andrew Scheer is a self-professed devout Catholic and social conservative who has criticized marriage equality on the record. He is also the only federal leader conspicuously absent from Pride marches.
When questioned about his current position on LGBTQ rights, Scheer has been extremely evasive, giving people just cause to fear that transgender and LGBTQ protections will be rolled back under a Conservative government. Also telling is the lack of a policy platform addressing this issue on the Conservative Party website.
Though the Green Party is being criticized as a greener version of the Conservatives, their LGBTQ platform is quite enlightened. It includes ending discriminatory blood donation bans, banning medically unnecessary surgeries on intersex children, and banning and condemning conversion therapy – which attempts to force a more straight binary form of sexuality and gender expression on LGBTQ people, despite wide disapproval from the medical and psychiatric communities – in all its forms.
Their platform also includes ensuring access to comprehensive sexual health care and gender affirming health care including hormone treatments, blockers, and surgeries.
This is the one that infuriates young people the most because surrounding the issue are criticisms from baby boomers that if we just bought less coffee we wouldn’t be in so much debt when they entered the job market at a time when you could afford a home with one minimum wage job as opposed to the many we need to afford basic expenses. That said, here is what the main parties are doing to tackle the issue.
The Liberal plans seem to benefit primarily middle class families when so many young people cannot even reach a middle class income. Their plans include:
- Lowering cell-phone bills by 25%
- No taxes on the first $15 000 of income earned
- Cut the small business tax rate from 11% to 9%
- Creation of a First-Time Home Buyer Incentive that would cut 10% off the purchase price of new homes
The NDP’s plan to tackle income inequality is far more comprehensive and seems to target all Canadians, not just the middle class. Their platform includes:
- Universal prescription drug coverage for all Canadians regardless of job, age, health, status, or income
- Investing five billion dollars to create five hundred thousand quality affordable housing units to address the affordable housing crisis, and waiving federal GST/HST for the construction of these affordable units
- Expand public education “from kindergarten to career”
- Free dental coverage for families making under $70 000 a year
The Conservatives plan to address income inequality has some similarities to that of the Liberals in that it centers on cutting taxes and regulations, though the nature of these cuts does not seem to vary depending on the means of individuals. Their plan comprises of:
- A universal tax cut for all Canadians
- Address the housing crisis by easing building regulations to facilitate the building of new homes
- Build pipelines to create jobs
- Exempt home heating bills from the GST
The Green Party’s platform recognizes the increasing precariousness of work and the growing gig economy that is exacerbating unstable incomes for younger voters. It also acknowledges the ongoing poverty rates. Their platform comprises of :
- Establishing a Guaranteed Liveable Income program to replace current income supports including disability, social assistance, and income assistance with payments set at a liveable level for different regions across Canada
- Set the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour
- Design and implement a national mental health strategy to address the link between mental health and productivity
- Enhance the use of Community Benefits Agreements to increase inclusion economic opportunities for people of color
Over the past twenty years there has been a lot of apathy among young voters who felt like their votes didn’t count. That is all about to change. For the first time in a long time, young Canadians have a chance to have their voices heard within the system, not just on the streets.
Voting day is October 21, 2019. GO VOTE!
You can also let us know who to endorse in the FTB Election Poll
Featured Image is a composite of four separate paintings by Samantha Gold
The 2019 Federal Election campaign is now underway, but before it even started officially, there were stories of the Green Party of Canada picking up support and poised for a breakthrough. This was largely at the expense of the NDP.
While I’m a card-carrying New Democrat and don’t plan on changing my vote, I’m always happy to see other progressive parties making inroads. The more the conversation veers left, the better for us all.
Unfortunately, this time, Elizabeth May’s success is fueled by a bigoted undercurrent that she and some in her party would rather the rest of us not notice. Plus some of their moves make it look like they are abandoning the left in favour of giving a coat of biodegradable green paint to some truly reprehensible stances.
Pierre Nantel’s Dubious Motives
Let’s start with Pierre Nantel. Member of Parliament for Longueuil – Saint Hubert first elected under the NDP banner as part of the Orange Wave in 2011. He announced a few weeks ago that he would finish out his term as an independent and run for re-election as a Green.
His rationale for leaving, as disseminated by the Greens to their email list (which, for some reason I’m on) is all about the environment. He didn’t cite any specific problems he had with the NDP’s environment platform, which is arguably more solid, or at worst, equally as solid, as what May and company are running on.
It’s also interesting that his concerns didn’t materialize sooner, given that getting elected as a Green was just as pie in the sky as getting elected as a New Democrat in Quebec at the start of the 2011 campaign. Guess he was just some misguided 48 year old kid who matured in the last eight years.
Or maybe, just maybe, Nantel’s defection has nothing to do with the fate of our planet, but rather what the current NDP leader wears on his head. Jagmeet Singh, a Sikh, wears a turban in keeping with his religion.
During the NDP leadership race, Nantel, aping Pauline Marois, told Radio-Canada that “ostentatious religious symbols are not compatible with power, with authority,” and that Singh’s bid for leadership doesn’t align with what Quebecers want to see from their political leaders. Sadly, Nantel’s bigoted views are what the Federal Green Party doesn’t mind seeing from its candidates.
Memo to Quebec Candidates: Try Not to Piss Off the Bigots
Bill 21, the CAQ Government’s new law that bars public sector workers from wearing religious symbols while on the job, will definitely be an issue in Quebec this election. The Greens would rather it not be.
While officially opposed to the legislation, the party has issued a directive to its Quebec candidates to avoid talking about it, if possible. Meanwhile, May has no problem with Green candidates supporting 21, a position the National Council of Canadian Muslims calls unacceptable and said so to her face.
It makes you wonder if official opposition to such a bigoted piece of legislation is worth anything if you let your candidates support it and discourage them from opposing it in the very part of the country where it actually affects people.
May’s New Brunswick Statement
Last week, we heard that 15 former NDP provincial candidates in New Brunswick had jumped ship to join the Greens. Then we heard that five of them didn’t and are quite upset their names were listed.
While this is an interesting political story, it’s also pretty standard brinkmanship and somewhat dirty politics. The part that’s relevant here is what Elizabeth May said about the possibility that racism played a part:
“Indeed, it may be a horrible reality that some people will not vote NDP because they are racist. I condemn these attitudes. But it is quite wrong to attack anyone who is disillusioned with the NDP by saying that the only reason they are disillusioned is because they are racist.”– Federal Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
No. No it’s not wrong to attack someone if their racism factors into their reasoning at all.
Sure, there are completely valid reasons for being disillusioned with the NDP, even hating the NDP and Singh’s leadership, but if his brown skin or turban is one of them, then you are no longer someone making a political point, you’re just a racist. And it’s always okay to attack racism.
It’s also never okay to benefit from someone else’s bigotry, even if you’re not a bigot yourself. Even if it potentially increases your seat count.
Nazis Aren’t a Distraction, They’re a Threat
And then there’s Danny Celovsky, Green Party candidate in Bay of Quinte. That’s where, earlier this year, a man raised a Nazi flag over his property and Celovsky decided to try and stop a Twitter discussion and condemnation, arguing that fascism and even Nazism were distractions from the only real issue: climate change.
One part in particular was telling:
“I disavow the stupid fascist freaks called Nazis. Put them in jail. Covered? Now … let’s start solving the problems my kids futures face.”Danny Celovsky, Green Party of Canada candidate, Port Quinte ON, Twitter, May 18, 2019
His kids’ futures. What about the futures of the children who aren’t so white and Christian. Climate change is a real threat to them, too, but so are Nazis.
Imagine if AOC or Bernie or any of the other proponents of the Green New Deal south of the border, people who have called climate change the greatest threat of our time repeatedly, came out and said that what happened in Charlottesville and the kids in cages on the southern US border with Mexico are distractions. It would never happen, because while their environmental bona fides are beyond reproach, so is their commitment to social justice.
That’s what a real alternative from the left needs to be. Climate justice and social justice go hand in hand.
Not Left. Not Right. So, By Default, Right
At this point, you might be expecting me to say something like: “The Greens aren’t real progressives. They’re just neoliberals playing to the left to get votes!” Well, that’s not what I’m going to say.
Our current Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a neoliberal who likes to play to the left during elections to get votes if there ever was one, is clear in his opposition to Bill 21 and I can’t imagine him allowing anyone who thinks the rise of fascism and Nazism is a mere distraction to run, or continue to run for his party.
The Green Party slogan this election cycle is “Not Left. Not Right. Forward Together” and it’s a recipe for disaster. If you say “Not Racist. Not Anti-Racist.” you are essentially saying that racism is okay.
To illustrate this problem, let’s turn to another topic:
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer recently had to stress that his party would not re-open the abortion debate despite allowing individual members to try. Elizabeth May, meanwhile, said that despite the party’s official pro-choice stance, she wouldn’t stop anti-choice MPs from trying to open the debate.
Her party corrected her and she changed her tune later that same day, but if your party needs to issue a statement to correct the perception that you are to the right of Andrew Scheer, then you have a serious problem.
No matter how important the one issue you care about is (and the future of the planet is of paramount importance), you can’t ignore the rest. It’s not a distraction.
If Maxime Bernier woke up tomorrow and declared that he had been visited by three very white spirits and now believes that we need to stop climate change (dude’s loopy, could happen), he would still be a racist asshole. And, at this point, one I fear Elizabeth May would welcome to the cause.
Not All Greens
It’s important to note that quite a few people involved with and running for the Green Party are truly trying to be a progressive alternative to the mainstream political parties in Canada. In particular, I know that the Green Party of Quebec isn’t trying to bank on or ignore bigotry to get votes.
I also realize that a provincial party distancing itself from its national counterpart is risky. So is a federal candidate standing against their party’s leader on a particular point, while arguing for them to be Prime Minister because of a bunch of other points.
So I’m not calling on Green candidates and provincial parties to disavow their federal leader. I am, however, calling on potential Green voters to realize just who the leader is welcoming into the fold. And I’m calling on Elizabeth May and the federal Green leadership to, excuse the language, get their fucking shit together quickly.
People, myself included, have frequently warned the NDP against becoming Liberal lite. I never thought I’d have to warn the Green Party against becoming an eco-friendly version of the far right.
I really didn’t want to start this election campaign railing against the Green Party and I truly hope I don’t end it that way. Greenwashing bigotry is not how you save the planet, it’s how you marginalize yourself with voters who may otherwise rush to support you.
Featured image via CPAC