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.
On October 21, Canadians will vote in the 43rd general election. This election is not a referendum on a prime minister, but a choice. Our options are re-electing a Liberal government led by Justin Trudeau or electing a Conservative government led by Andrew Scheer. I believe the choice could not be clearer.
Over the last four years, Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government has stood up for students and made real progress on the issues important to many of us. The government’s decision to double funding to the Canada Summer Jobs Program, once cut by the Conservatives, has allowed thousands of Canadian students to find meaningful summer work that gives important real-world experience.
This government lowered interest rates on student loans, making it easier to obtain a quality education. Just last week, Justin Trudeau promised to increase Canada Student Grants by 40 per cent and institute a two-year grace period for student loan repayments, a positive sign for students at a time when the Conservatives across the country are making major cuts to education. Landmark investments in postsecondary institutions like McGill will allow future generations of students to attend more sustainable, better-resourced, and cleaner campuses.
Students like me also understand the real and pressing threat of climate change. While Conservative MPs debate whether climate change is real, the Trudeau government became the first in Canadian history to put a price on pollution across Canada and give the revenues back to Canadians. Leading economists and scientists agree: carbon pricing is the best way to lower our emissions. While Conservatives would roll back our progress and do nothing to fight climate change, the Liberal plan increases the price on pollution every year to continue lowering national emissions.
A strong economy over the past four years has also benefited students. Our unemployment rate is at a record low, and the government has opened new markets for Canadian small businesses to start up, scale up, and export their products. Under Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government, Canada became the only G7 country to have free trade agreements with all other G7 countries. And of course, the government’s hard work building ties in the United States allowed it to stand up to Donald Trump and get a good NAFTA deal.
While Andrew Scheer would scale back our role in the world, over the past four years, Canada returned to its proud tradition of multilateralism. By running for a seat on the UN Security Council, Canada can contribute to global peace, rather than turning away from international institutions as Andrew Scheer would have us do. At a moment when Canada needs to do much more in foreign aid, Andrew Scheer would cut it by 25 per cent.
At this troubling time in world politics, Canada cannot be the next country to fall to right-wing populism. While the threat of populism once seemed confined to other countries, that is simply no longer the case. Conservative leader Andrew Scheer’s fearmongering and misinformation on migration, intolerance towards LGBTQ2+ people, opposition to women’s rights, and dog-whistles to the worst elements of our society are real and concerning. Indeed, Scheer’s own campaign manager was a founding director of The Rebel, a far-right website that routinely publishes Islamophobic and anti-Semitic slurs.
In contrast, Justin Trudeau became the first sitting prime minister to march in a Pride parade, showing the LGBTQ2+ community that Liberals will always stand up for them. And the Liberals have taken real action. New legislation introduced and passed by the Liberals protects against discrimination based on gender identity. Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives vocally opposed and voted against this law. Alarmingly, it’s 2019, and Mr. Scheer continues to boycott all Pride events. That’s because he still believes that same-sex couples lack the “essential element” of marriage. That’s not a view we can go back to.
There remains much more to do. In particular, we must press forward on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. I and many others would like to see the full and complete implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the lifting of all drinking water advisories as quickly as possible.
Trudeau’s Liberals have promised to do both. The Liberals will implement UNDRIP in the first year of a new mandate and are on-track to eliminate drinking water advisories on reserves by 2021. And the Liberals have made real progress already, with new legislation to protect Indigenous languages and reduce the number of Indigenous children in foster care.
Over the past four years, the Liberals’ action on these matters led the Assembly of First Nations’ National Chief Perry Bellegarde to declare that Trudeau’s Liberal government “has done more for First Nations people than any government in history.” On this issue, the choice Canadians face is perhaps the starkest. While the Liberals would do even more, the Conservatives would do nothing. In fact, Andrew Scheer’s entire Arctic policy did not once mention the word “Inuit.”
Over the past four years, the Liberal government has made real progress. Expanded social programs like the Canada Child Benefit have lifted 900,000 Canadians out of poverty, including 300,000 children. Ottawa has made record investments in Montreal’s transit network, including a recently-announced $1.3 billion investment into the blue Metro line extension. Cannabis is legal, the economy is booming, and Canada is making meaningful headway on reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. Now more than ever, we cannot afford to turn back the clock.
In a world where populism, xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, and anti-Semitism are on the uptick, Canada cannot afford a government that would flirt with the far-right, fail to take action on climate change, and make callous cuts just like Doug Ford has.
On October 21, please do what so many around the world dream of. Find your polling station, make a plan to vote, and cast your ballot. I’m choosing to stop Andrew Scheer, Doug Ford, and Jason Kenney from taking us backwards. I’m voting to re-elect a progressive Liberal government that will continue to take us forward.
Edited by Evelyne Goulet.
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 can 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 email@example.com.