NDP: Need Dynamic Platform
1) 5 weeks of vacation for all Canadians
2) Free dental care for all Canadians
3) Legalize marijuana
4) Abolish the Senate
5) Abolish the Monarchy
Personally, I'd be somewhat in favour of all six of these, and strongly in support of the last four. But are these issues Jack should get behind? I'm not so sure. Layton has come a long way in the past year to present himself as a dignified statesman and I think he could lose a lot of that by coming out in favour of pot or vacations. Similarly, John Manley got a lot of flack for his views on the Monarchy so it's likely best for Layton to lay off that one for the time being.
I do think he might be able to get some support on euthanasia since Canadians are usually quite progressive on freedom of choice issues, but I just can't see anyone changing their vote towards the NDP because of euthanasia. Looking down that list, the only topic I can really see being a winner for the NDP is Senate reform. The NDP won half their seats in Western Canada and came very close in a lot of ridings out west. Senate reform is seen as a "western" issue and while I don't think it's a policy that would draw a lot of votes their way, I think it's the sort of issue that could make the party more appealing to individuals who are fed up with the Liberals on corruption but are still leery of Harper. And we all know there are a lot of people like that out there.
Now, here are CP vs SS's five suggested policies for the Dippers and my thoughts on each of them:
1. Anti corporate tax cuts: Everything I've heard has the Liberals announcing massive tax cuts right before the next election, similar to the 2000 campaign strategy. This means the NDP is going to have to run on an anti-tax cut platform and, if it comes down to opposing middle class tax cuts or corporate tax cuts, the choice is obvious. Still, my advice for the NDP would be to talk more about social issues than tax cuts, since they're not seen as having a lot of credibility on economics.
2. Public health care: Personally, I've had it up to here with the hollowness of the current health care debate but with this spring's Supreme Court decision, I think we're stuck with it for another campaign. All party leaders are going to talk about how they'll defend health care without giving any real specifics...the only way this issue can be a winner for Layton is if he actually has some substance to his politics to match the rhetoric.
3. Education: Even though education is a provincial issue, there's lots of room to maneuver on the post-secondary education file. I've always thought that any of the three parties would do well if they came up with a national post-secondary education plan, be it for University funding, student loans, or even free tuition (which has been wildly successful in Ireland).
4. Environment: The NDP needs to stress this to cut off the Greens at the pass. I also think that some sort of smog reduction strategy could net them a few seats in the GTA.
5. Get tough trade policy: I wouldn't be surprised if the Liberals ran with this, which could leave the NDP with little else to say on this file. And, similar to economics, I can't see foreign affairs or trade as being big winners for the Dippers.
The NDP should do very well during the next election. With Layton's personal popularity far higher than Martin's or Harper's, he'd be wise to stay away from the controversial issues and instead put forward sound policies a lot of left wing Liberals feel comfortable with. And, for God's sake, avoid a repeat of the Clarity Act and dead homeless incidents of last election.