Monday, October 12, 2015

#elxn42 Platform Review - Liberals

Finally, let's take a look at the Liberals' platform. Leaving aside the question of whether the Libs can plausibly live up to their campaign messaging of simultaneously being more progressive than the NDP, more business-friendly than the Conservatives, more devoted to the revolution than the Marxist-Leninists and more subcutaneous esplanade imbroglio than the Surrealists, what can we observe from their platform that might not be noticed in their mass messaging?

For the most part, the answer is "not much": having created large pools of money for purposes yet to be determined as the core of their platform, the Libs mostly leave matters to future determination. But there are a few points worth noting:
  • avoiding the lapsing of some types of funding, including infrastructure funding which would be paid at the end of the fiscal year directly to municipalities (p. 14), and foreign aid and military spending which would not be allowed to lapse (p. 65, 69);
  • measures to seek out Canadians who are entitled to services, including proactive voter registration (p. 27-28) and steps by the CRA to advise people of available benefits not being claimed (p. 33);
  • setting aside a fixed percentage of program funds to experiment with new approaches (p. 37);
  • eliminating a Labour Market Impact Assessment fee for temporary foreign workers hired as caregivers (p. 63); and
  • creating a Cabinet committee dedicated solely to Canada's relationship with the U.S. (p. 67 - and note the juxtaposition against the NDP's plan for a committee to address First Nations issues).
More generally, the most striking aspect of the Libs' platform is its inclination to only partially reverse some of the Cons' most controversial actions while in power. (In this respect, the Libs' position on C-51 seems to be fairly consistent with a general pattern of accepting the Cons' decisions subject to only minor tweaking later.)

For example, the Libs plan to keep the Cons' distinction between "designated countries of origin" when it comes to evaluating refugee claims: their reform of that new and highly-dubious policy is limited to appointing a panel to determine which countries to list (p. 65). In contrast, the NDP promises to eliminate the distinction altogether.

Similarly, the Libs pledge to "review" the Cons' attacks on environmental laws (p. 42), but do not make a clear pledge to reverse them as the NDP does. And they promise to "refocus" foreign aid toward African countries and poverty reduction (p. 65), but not to actually increase that aid.

In sum, then, the Libs' platform suggests significant reluctance even to undo the damage the Cons have done. And so voters focused on change rather than triangulation may want to look elsewhere.

[Edit: fixed wording.]

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