Thursday, April 07, 2016

Up for discussion

Kady O'Malley has already highlighted a few of the noteworthy resolutions (PDF) submitted to this weekend's NDP policy convention. But I'll point out a few more which look to me to deserve attention.

First, in the category of simple good ideas regardless of one's ideological orientation...
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the following be added to Section 1.5 in the policy book:
1.5.f. Amending the Employment Insurance Act (severance) and the Income Tax Act so that employees who have lost their jobs due to plant closure can, on a one-time-only basis, retain their severance packages and be able to invest some or all of that severance money into RRSPs even if the investment is above their RRSP contribution limit and can, immediately upon termination of employment, collect the Employment Insurance to which they are entitled without any loss of severance monies.
About the only concern is that this might be too narrowly framed in applying only to plant closures. But it's well worth looking at ways to make sure that EI does more for workers (see also 3-05-16 among other resolutions for examples) - and the principle that EI should supplement severance packages rather than swallowing them up for workers in an especially difficult job market its the bill.
NDP Quebec Section 
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP require that for each device purchased, the consumer must have access to the following information:
§ A clear indication making it possible to know if the device is repairable and the duration of the availability of separate parts and accessories, as well as the device’s reasonable life cycle;
§ An explanation of the product’s environmental impact provided by the producers, such as:
§ Impact of CO2 emitted when the product was produced;
§ Preservation of natural resources: quantity of non-renewable resources (gold, silver and tin) in the composition of the product;
§ Instructions for recycling the device or returning it to the producer for recycling.
This would fit neatly into the categories of consumer protection and environmental policy, at least allowing people to make more informed purchasing decisions and hopefully encouraging the development of more responsible production processes.
NDP Quebec Section, Richmond-Arthabaska, Jonquière 
BE IT RESOLVED THAT the NDP support the adoption of legislation limiting the length of an election campaign to a maximum of 45 days. 
I'm not sure if anybody saw any merit in Stephen Harper's extended 2015 campaign for any purpose other than his own partisan advantage. But a legislated limit on the campaign period would seem a logical response to the issues raised when a prime minister can otherwise singlehandedly extend timelines and increase expense limits.

Meanwhile, a few other resolutions fit with ideas which have been discussed elsewhere, but haven't been given extensive attention among Canada's federal political parties. Among those are 1-18-16 (among others) on postal banking, 1-21-16 on a financial transaction tax, 1-27-16 calling for a review of tax policy including challenging the Cons' GST cuts among others dealing with more progressive taxation, 1-67-16 providing for an inheritance tax, 3-06-16 on a basic income, 3-16-16 and others supporting a fully funded mental health and addictions strategy, 3-89-16 to eliminate mandatory minimum criminal sentences, and 6-04-16 to call for an end to carding.

And several more offer some important fodder for discussion, including a charter of citizen and corporate responsibilities (1-47-16), a detailed plan to transition to a low-carbon economy as the basis for the next campaign (2-24-16), a prohibition against genetic discrimination (3-26-16), a fund to encourage youth involvement in politics (5-12-16), and a move toward more ongoing participatory policy-making (7-14-16 among others).

Of course it's doubtful that this weekend will even scratch the surface of the above (along with many more worthwhile ideas which have been put before the convention). But there's certainly no lack of thoughtful ideas worth taking away even if they don't make it to the floor - and hopefully several of the above will find their way into platforms and policy before long.


  1. This is tangential, but I think reversing the Cons' GST cut is the wrong way to go. The Cons cut the GST for the wrong reasons and didn't replace the revenue. But it's a fundamentally regressive tax, which should really be scrapped and replaced with better taxes such as progressive income taxes, corporate taxes, wealth taxes, financial transaction taxes, capital gains taxes, perhaps carbon taxes--really, the list of taxes better than the bloody GST just goes on and on.

    1. Agreed that those other taxes can be more progressive in their application, and if it's an either-or it's best to focus on them.

      But as long as a government is putting its revenue to good use (and most reasonable applications of public money should still result in a net boost to equality), I'd rather go with the several-of-the-above option.