The upcoming federal election on May 2 is less than two weeks away. Each of the national parties claims to have the best set of policies to lead the nation forward and benefit ordinary Canadians.
From a local perspective, much of what goes on in the House of Commons is about deciding how the taxes from across the nation are collected and spent. Dollars from the federal coffers are typically used to establish funding programs that Members of Parliament are able to access for the benefit of the communities they serve. The funding programs are accompanied by stipulations describing how the money can be spent.
Aside from party platforms another important consideration to take into account in voting is the individual politician’s ability to achieve results. Funding programs are good news for their beneficiaries but to ensure that tax dollars are put to good use MP’s need to be in tune with the needs of the communities they serve and with local and provincial politicians.
During an election campaign each party’s platform serves as a guide to voters that highlights spending priorities. The following is a brief summary of the Conservative platform. Check next week’s Calendar for similar write ups on the Liberal, NDP and Green parties’ platforms.
The Conservative platform stresses five points: job creation, support for families, eliminating the deficit within the next three years, a tough stance on crime, and improving national security.
Since coming into power in 2006, the Conservative government has pursued a low-tax agenda for job creation. By 2012 Canada will have the lowest corporate tax rate in the G7 due to phased in reductions under previous Stephen Harper conservative legislation. The conservative platform identifies low taxes as a competitive advantage in the global economy because international corporations are more likely to invest their resources in Canada which ultimately leads to the creation of jobs. For this election campaign the Conservatives are promising not to raise taxes on businesses.
As with business taxation, the Conservative platform suggests that the best way to support families is through low taxes. Allowing families to keep as much of their earned income as possible allows individuals to set their own spending priorities. The most significant policy the Conservatives propose in this respect is to allow income splitting for tax purposes for couples with dependants under the age of 18. The initiative would save an estimated 1.8 million families an average of $1,300 per year. This policy would not be implemented until a balanced budget is achieved (which Conservatives forecast will happen in the 2014/2015 fiscal year).
Returning to a balanced budget is a priority for Conservatives. In response to the recession Canada has been running deficit budgets to stimulate the economy. As the nation emerges from the downswing, Conservatives say it is time to drastically cut back on government spending. They look to the collapse of European economies as evidence of what happens when governments spend beyond their means.
Conservatives believe that the legislation that governs crime places too much emphasis on offender’s rights at the expense of victims and their families. The conservative platform would address the imbalance by putting an end to sentence discounts for multiple offences, end house arrest and eliminate pardons for serious crimes, and introduce additional legislation to protect vulnerable members of society such as children and seniors.
Improving national security translates into increased defense spending in the Conservative platform. Already a commitment has been made to purchase next-generation fighter jets to replace the 40 year old planes currently used by the Canadian Forces. Conservatives would follow up on that commitment once a balanced budget has been achieved. Recognizing the potential for home-grown terrorism, a Conservative government would also seek to reinstate legislation that would grant judges additional powers to prevent terrorist acts and fast track the deportation of foreign individuals with criminal records or ties to terrorist organizations.