Monday, August 29, 2005

NDP: Need Dynamic Platform

One of the more entertaining blogs out there, Capitalist Pig vs. Socialist Swine, wades into the debate on the NDP's next platform here. The porkster first comments on the ideas raised by Koby at Progressive Bloggers, which I'll repost here:

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

6) Euthanasia

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.


  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    CG - I admire the fact that you help out all politcal parties in the name of a good, competitive fight where the best ideas win.

    The NDP have a platform for the next election. Its called: prop up Martin.

    Layton loves Martin, for some obscene reason, and no one will be paying attention to the NDP platform as its bullshit.

    The real platform is: "the NDP will do anything Martin tells us to do."

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:22 a.m.  

  • This is a clear indication that the right isn't watching Layton close enough. Layton only is working with Martin when it suits his needs (ie. NDP Budget) and still holds to the promise of bringing down the Liberal government. NASCAR fans might understand this as "slipstreaming". Layton is doing what he can to further the NDP ideals and will pass the Liberals when the opportunity presents itself instead of standing on the side, whining about the government and not presenting an alternative (ie. CPC).

    As for Education... it should be pointed out that Ireland didn't open the universities to anyone for free tuition. It opened them in the fields that they needed people (ie. medicine, engineering, accounting). Canada really should look at doing the same in order to take care of the shortage of doctors, nurses, engineers and tradepeople.


    By Blogger Lex Luthor, at 11:39 a.m.  

  • I don't see abolishing the monarchy as being particularly controversial as CalgaryGrit suggests. I don't see a lot of political mileage to be gained from it. Manley's comments were newsworthy but I don't think he got a lot of flak for them. Abolishing the Senate has been NDP policy for years. Free dental care is intriguing: I would suggest as an alternative (as part of a health care platform) to make home care and pharmacare as elements of a new Canada Health Act. The Liberals haven't followed through on this and Layton can take advantage and sound innovative. I would also stress the environment, urban issues and a national day care program as the keys for the NDP.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:15 p.m.  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says:

    Hey Lex - my post shows only my own delusions, not the delusions of all conservatives in the universe.

    You're right, I don't watch Layton carefully. Whenever he gets on the telly, he does not seem to present any alternative to Martin. So, I get bored and wait for the big guy, Paulsy, to do the talking for them.

    And, I think you're ideas about education and making only the needed fields free while a fair price is paid for those who want to study philosphy is an excellent one.

    The NDP would never buy it because philosophy students are their constituents. Engineers are not.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:41 p.m.  

  • Paul Martin studied philosophy.

    Make of it what you will.

    By Blogger bgilliard, at 1:52 p.m.  

  • None of these issue except for 1 is of interest to me.

    If any party put Native poverty and the homeless in cities as their number 1 and 2 social issues then I would really consider voting for them.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:53 p.m.  

  • If Martin and Layton seem to have similar positions, it's probably more because Martin has been drifting Layton's way. On issues like SSM and BMD, the NDP has been in front of the Liberals by at least a year. A year or two ago, Layton was the only national leader concerned about missile defense but once the public support shifted his way, Martin followed.

    And I imagine the Liberal/NDP deal is toast. Expect Layton to make a public offer for a new deal and if the Liberals turn him down (which they likely will), he'll try and bring down the government.

    By Blogger calgarygrit, at 2:00 p.m.  

  • QuebecHarpermaniac says -

    Fair and reasoned, CG.

    I will offer this, though:

    If the public support for BMD shifted and Martin followed, who is the leader of the country?

    This will grate Grit ears but:

    Doesn't a leader sometimes take unpopular decisions because they are right?

    How do we expect Martin to deal on our behalf with the U.S. if we know how quickly he caves against nice, affable, average Canadians?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:09 p.m.  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:12 p.m.  

  • Anonymous:

    "If any party put Native poverty and the homeless in cities as their number 1 and 2 social issues then I would really consider voting for them."

    Here's a good policy: Get a job.

    Get educated, volunteer for experience, _use_ the programs that are available already. Network with people, use the libraries, read books. Put out resumes for anything and everything. Remember that people in interviews are much more influenced by appearence then experience. Shine your damn shoes, iron your shirts, get your hair cut and shave. _Read_ and study "Dress for Success".

    With a national average of 4.3% (or whatever it is) there's no excuse for not having a job if you want one.

    And no, welfare doesn't count as experience so yes, you may need to work at a lower wage for a while. Deal with it.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:07 p.m.  

  • Here are some of the general impressions of what people have said about my proposals here and elsewhere

    Most voters are not well informed. Many have no interest in politics and many more simply do not have the time. One way political parties have dealt with this is to spare us the details and talk about general commitments to board based issues, such as health care, and the environment. Personally I find this approach alienating and I tune out almost immediately. Besides, no one is against, say, eliminating child poverty. The devil is always in the details. I find concrete policy proposals, especially if they invoke the language of universality, much more interesting and daring and I do not think I am alone in this regard. This is one reason I put forward the list that I did.

    Another reason is that I wanted to get people talking and these where some issues that I thought might engage people. (I never intended for this to be an exhaustive list) If the NDP is not going to do this, other parties will. Now, as for those who would say that these are not substantive enough issues, I have five things to say. One the issues that dominate political campaigns are just as often than not insubstantial. Want proof? Just look at the swift boat issue in the states and charge that Kerry was a flip flopper. Canadians meanwhile have been captivated for years now with for example, the “democratic deficit”; the problem with this is that discussion often does not move past the slogan; as a result many Canadians have fallen in love with the slogan, but would be unable to articulate what exactly is meant by this and some would not have any idea at all. Two, it is high time the NDP brass stop being so arrogant as to think that they can pass up the opportunity to wax poetic about the issue, such as senate reform, when it comes up in the media. In modern politics the divide between insubstantial issues versus core issues is drawn in no small measure by outside forces and not the party itself. Three, what is with all this latent Puritanism I am sensing? The amount of time we as Canadians are tied to their job is not a fluff issue and neither is the large number of Canadians without adequate dental care. It is high time Canadians follow the lead of their European counterparts and put issues such as these on the political map. Four, the symbolic matters and often will have unforeseen practical consequences. Take the marijuana issue. The biggest obstacle to legalizing marijuana is the US and any analysis that does not speak to this is incomplete. At a time when Canadians are feeling bullied by the US, this is the one thing that Canada could do that would severally damage the US, albeit, ideologically. It could arguably spell an end to the US war on drugs. If Canada was to legalize marijuana, various European countries would quickly follow and progressives throughout the States would laud us as their new champion. There would also be no way for Walters to keep passing his lies off as truth with the avalanche of publicity this would get south of the boarder. Five, the political situation is extremely unsettled and fluid. Many pundits have taken this as a sign that the people of Canada want a change of government. I think they are wrong. It goes much deeper than that. There are a number of cultural fault lines that are opening up around some of the issues I mentioned. The problem is that the party is wedded to the polling process and is unwilling to move on something they can not quantitatively prove is a winner. (According to Allan Gregg the NDP spends more on polling than the other parties combined.) What is wrong with this from a strategic point of view is that support for these issues could rapidly be built up if they were only tabled. The gay marriage issue is a good case in point, as is Vancouver Mayor Larry Campbell’s support for safe injection sites.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:37 p.m.  

  • Lance,

    That "get a job" policy, tell about us how you impliment that?

    We should try it or something new because natives continue to be statistically at the worse rates as the rest of Canadians. Something is wrong and something new has to be tried.

    Certainly, the native poverty and homelessness are higher issues than the ones listed or the current issues of same sex marriages or aid to other countries.

    You make it sound easy to fix.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:48 p.m.  

  • "Certainly, the native poverty and homelessness are higher issues than the ones listed or the current issues of same sex marriages or aid to other countries."

    Maybe we should throw more money at the problem. After all, that's our approach to everything else, isn't it?

    Why think when you get better press from spending announcements?

    By Blogger Michael Fox, at 5:53 p.m.  

  • The first step in tackling Native poverty is abolish the Indian Act.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 6:38 p.m.  

  • Anonymous: 'That "get a job" policy, tell about us how you impliment that?'

    See that's the beauty of the "Get a Job" policy. It puts the responsibility for ones well being in the hands of the person most affected; not the Gov't, not the taxpayer, not the Chief, not the Band and certainly not the system.

    Change doesn't spring from those institutions, change springs from one person who chooses to make their life better. They can choose the opposite as well, not my problem.

    I'll gladly let my tax dollars pay 100% of living (not life) expenses as long as a single parent or both parents are going to school, with the proviso of minimum 75% grades. After graduation, support stops.

    I could probably agree to a few other things as well, mental health is a large contributor to homelessness and those victims need to be looked after.

    But, for any able-bodied single or kidless family to claim poverty is ridiculous in Canada. It reeks of laziness and I have no respect for that. For anyone to claim it's a huge social issue in Canada has misplaced priorities, and that is nothing but hubris.

    Want poverty, go to South America, the Polynesian Islands, or 90% of Africa. That's poverty.

    Those people don't have the benefit of a booming economy and jobs for all. Those people sift through dumps for food, shelter and clothing. Those people don't have a nanny state that guarentees they'll never lack for food, shelter or health care.

    Want a job, go here:

    Take the $275 air brake course, write the SGI test, take the 3 week 1A course ($3745) pass it. Call anyone of ten trucking companies in Saskatoon. Do not pass through HR hands, go directly to interview.

    Same thing could be said of any of the trades (mechs, construction, electrical, welding, oil patch, etc). Probably not the office environment.

    And yes, if you are on social assistance now, you can get help with the fee.

    No, I don't place Canadian poverty and homelessness as important election platforms.


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:42 a.m.  

  • So Lance, your policy seems to advocate educating these people with life skills that you and I probably learned from our own support systems, i.e. family and friends. That's a good start. Along with mental illness, hopefully, you recongnize substance abuse as something that needs to addressed.

    In the news we have been hearing of communities of native kids addicted to gas sniffing. To me that is a sign of a problem with "the system".

    You mentioned jobs. Most natives have ties to there reserve and or tribes that impede mobility to just move to Saskatoon.

    It seem to me that it would be a much nobler thing for our policitan to debating these issue than what gets debated now.

    I would much rather tourists come to Canada to experience a strong proud native culture and people than have them coming for our same sex marriages and marijuana use.

    And yes there is a poverty in other countries but our first priority should be to our own problems.

    The premiers tried to make this the prime issue in the recent Premiers meeting but the media instead focused on the medicare and the Gov General. Maybe the provinces should take over this responsibility.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 3:27 p.m.  

  • Lance,

    I cannot let that bit go by without comment. As a single parent I can tell you with utmost confidence that 'getting a job' isn't enough. I have always worked and for the most part, I've worked more than 50 hours a week, sometimes up to 60 hours a week - to provide a decent quality of life to my child. Even at that, we have always lived beneath the poverty line.

    Fortunately, my value system excludes many of the 'necessities' others around me would never live without. A car, for example. The consequences being that I will spend more time in transportation in a day and arrange my working and domestic life around transportation issues. This equals the consumption of more time. Time I am not spending with my child. But the cash I save provides him other opportunities, thus I prioritize. There is more, of course, but I'll leave that as but one example and for the purpose of pointing out how incomplete your analysis appears to be, to me.

    The cost and standard of living surrounding each one of us dictates our level of poverty. For women with children, this can be a tricky equation. Starting with the question; how much is enough to pay the bills? Add to it, that the more we make, the more our daycare, healthcare, dental etc expenses rise. Subsidies for such expenses are only provided in part and only for those within extreme poverty situations. I've met women who literally had less cash for food and clothing working two jobs than working one job semi-full time and staying within the boundries of those subsidies. In the latter situation, the children had a parent who spent time with them. How does one build or 'move up' the economic 'ladder' in this situation?

    The issue of poverty is one that is far more complex than you appear to have accounted for. It is systemic, whether it is in regard to single parents or addicts or the handicapped.

    Why are jobs in the trades (which require min. education levels) more valuable fiscally than daycare workers for example (who get paid min wages)? Where is the education needed to provide disabled persons with skills for occupations they are capable of? Where are the provisions for mentally diabled persons whom cannot care for themselves (currently available only to families whom can afford it)?

    MOST often, poverty has nothing to do with laziness. I can state, for example, that most folks around me couldn't cope with the requirements of my day. Even addicts spend all their days seeking the cash that abets their need.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:25 a.m.  

  • Oh, and i forgot to add, that this is true REGARDLESS of whether or not you are an Aboriginal. Poverty on reserves is exacerbated by lack of opportunity, quality of education, and racism. Add to it a history that is still unravelling within the cultural sphere. All of which are still issue of the larger system.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:34 a.m.  

  • Ricia,

    Indeed, these are complex issues and as someone said just throwing money at will not help. Along with the homeless and native issues, single parent and daycare are also important issues that need to be intelligently addressed. I bet that you would like to spend more time with your kids. These are much more worthy things in need of debate and thought needs to taken in from many sides. There needs to be accounatability. Ken Dryden has proven to be unflexible and an egomaniac. Ken Dryden has to be the biggest disappointment politically I've ever seen. I was never a Canadiens fan but I did like Dryden as a hockey player. Rather than generic daycare for all, why not good daycare for those who need it? And how about giving a break to those that raise their kids at home? Having kids raised by there parents should be the priority.

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