This opinion piece is part of a broader week-long MJPS Online series on voting intentions. Check here for other components of the series. The views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the position of the editor, the McGill Journal of Political Studies, or the Political Science Students’ Association.
As we approach election day, Canadians are faced with some very pressing issues – climate change, income inequality, the opioid crisis, and a looming global recession. It’s clear to me that the party best equipped to deal with these issues is Jagmeet Singh’s New Democratic Party (NDP).
In 2015, Canadians sent Stephen Harper’s Conservative government packing, opting instead for Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. After a term of inaction and broken promises, the Liberals have failed to earn our votes this time around.
Until recently, Trudeau has maintained a carefully curated image, here and abroad, as a staunch progressive and defender of human rights. Whether this was through his gender-balanced cabinet or becoming the first sitting prime minister to march in a Pride parade, Trudeau has made headline-grabbing moves to bolster his progressive persona.
To his credit, Trudeau’s progressive persona is not completely fabricated. Canada has welcomed 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada, exceeding the target set out in the Liberals’ 2015 election platform. Trudeau also deserves credit for the implementation of the Canada Child Benefit and, despite a checkered record on Indigenous reconciliation, the Liberal government has lifted 72 boil water advisories on First Nations reserves since taking office.
Is Trudeau Really Progressive?
But these progressive accomplishments are too few and far between.
In a move to avoid paying $40,000 in damages per Indigenous child unfairly removed from their home by the welfare system, the Liberals will challenge a September 2019 ruling that the federal government’s on-reserve child welfare system unfairly discriminated against Indigenous youth by underfunding their care.
Upholding and defending human rights is an area where Trudeau’s image does not match his government’s actions. Most notably, Canada has followed through on an $11.3 billion weapons deal with Saudi Arabia. Brokered by Harper’s Conservatives, the sale got final approval shortly after the 2015 election. Saudi Arabia is currently carrying out what many have called a genocide in Yemen, creating the world’s largest humanitarian crisis according to the United Nations.
Canada’s complicity is a national embarrassment, and the Liberal’s refusal to act demonstrates a greater concern for the government’s bottom-line than for human rights. It is moreover difficult to square Trudeau’s image as an ally of the LGBTQ community at home with this complicity with a regime that violently oppresses it abroad.
The apparent absence of moral convictions regarding human rights is also on display in Latin America, with Canada’s economic sanctions against Venezuela. In an effort to pressure the Venezuelan government, Canada has joined the United States and the European Union, in imposing economic sanctions that they claim target government officials. According to the first UN rapporteur to visit the country in over two decades, the sanctions are actually worsening the economic crisis and are responsible for an estimated 40,000 deaths since 2017.
Climate change is perhaps the most pressing issue facing us right now, and one on which the Trudeau Liberals have failed to take decisive action. Trudeau’s Liberals have committed to reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, a pledge already made by many other countries. While he frequently acknowledges the gravity of the climate crisis and even joined Montreal’s climate strike march, Trudeau’s record in government shows that the Liberals are not serious about taking the action required to save the planet. A government that buys pipelines does not have its priorities in order. In the words of teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, “he is not doing enough.”
How the NDP Will Move Canada Forward
The NDP has robust and ambitious plans to deal with the pressing issues of today and make life better for all Canadians.
To deal with the climate crisis, the NDP will declare a climate emergency and establish a Climate Accountability Office to perform audits on progress toward achieving its climate goals, including net carbon-free electricity by 2030. An NDP government will also eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and instead create a Canadian Climate Bank to invest in low carbon initiatives.
An NDP government will also work to add health services that all Canadians deserve. Through a universal pharmacare program as well as free dental and mental health care, they plan to give every Canadian access to the medication they need, regardless of their income.
Making life more affordable for Canadians will be a central goal for a Singh NDP government. According to the OECD, Canadians spend 22.2% of their after-tax family income on full-time childcare. To address this, the NDP will work towards making colleges and universities part of our public (i.e. free) education system and developing a national, public, universal child care program.
The NDP platform is chock-full of other impressive commitments including compensating contract workers at wages equal to full-time workers, strengthening the Canadian Pension Plan so we can all retire with dignity, revitalizing the made-in-Canada auto industry with a focus on zero-emissions cars, pursuing electoral reform so that every vote counts, and closing tax loopholes used by the wealthy to avoid paying their fair share.
When I cast my ballot this October, I’ll be voting for real progress; a government that will take decisive action on the key issues facing Canadians today. I’ll be voting for a party that will make Canada a fairer and more compassionate country; a country that will make sure no one is left behind. I’ll be voting for Jagmeet Singh’s NDP.
Edited by Eyitayo Kunle-Oladosu.
This opinion piece is part of a broader week-long MJPS Online series on voting intentions. Check here for other components of the series. For general information on how to vote in this month’s federal election, see this resource from Elections Canada. If you’re a university student, you may be able to vote on campus. Find out how here.
The views expressed in this piece are solely those of the author and do not reflect the position of the editor, the McGill Journal of Political Studies, or the Political Science Students’ Association. Questions regarding this series can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.