Digital Journal presents an overview of the major parties vying for electoral wins in this upcoming Canadian election, set for May 2. Find out each party's pet issues , the bios of the leaders and recent news.
When Canada's Conservative government fell last week, the country's political parties began to gear up for five weeks of an intense cross-Canada campaign. With an election set for May 2, Canadians will be inundated with sound bytes and promises and ads, but what does each party stand for? And how did they do in Canada's last election?
(Note we will constantly update this article as more news comes out regarding each party's announcements and platform policies)
Party leader: Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Born in Toronto, Harper became the country's 22nd prime minister in 2006 when he defeated Paul Martin's Liberals. He's won two back-to-back minority governments, first in 2006 with 127 Parliamentary seats. He decided to prorogue Parliament twice, the latest during the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He is married with two children
Last election: In 2008, the Conservatives won but held onto a minority government, taking 143 seats (out of 308). The Conservatives believed the Liberals' Stephane Dion was Harper's main rival and launched many ads critiquing Dion's policies.
• Strengthening free-trade deals with the U.S.
• Won't raise taxes on families or businesses
• Plans to eliminate deficit by 2015
• Tough stand on law and order issues, increased military spending
• Will confirm permanent funding for municipalities through Gas Tax Fund
Courtesy Conservative Party of Canada
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Recent announcements: Harper said a Conservative government would sign a free-trade agreement with the EU by 2012 and India by 2013; he promised "to extend a tax break that allows manufacturers to write off investments faster on machinery and equipment"
Memorable quote: "The prime minister does not sit in his office and just do things off the top of his head. It's part of leading a team and figuring out what the consensus is, in almost every case." -via CBC
Party Leader: Michael Ignatieff. Born in Toronto, Ignatieff studied at Harvard University and has been involved in academia most of his life, including positions at the University of Toronto. He ran for the Liberal leadership in 2006, but lost to Stéphane Dion on the final ballot. He became the Liberal leader in May 2009 with 97 percent of the Liberal Party supporting his uncontested leadership bid.
Last election: In 2008, the Liberals took 77 seats in the House. Also, Ignatieff endorsed the Liberal-Bloc-NDP coalition deal after the 2008 election.
Courtesy Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff
• A family care plan for Canadians supporting ill family members, and offering both a new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit and Family Care Tax Benefit
• Pension plan reform, will boost the GIS benefit for low-income seniors by $700 million per year
• Deficit reduction and spending restraint
• Invest an additional $50 million over four years to improve food inspection
• Quadruple renewable energy production, including wind, solar and biomass energy sources
• Doubling funding to the Canada Council for the Arts
Recent announcements: A Canadian Learning Passport for students, who will receive $4,000 in post-secondary assistance; will spend $500 million to create new daycare facilities; promising a "secure retirement option” aimed at encouraging Canadians to save more".
Memorable quote: "To those who say an election is 'unnecessary,' I reply: we did not seek an election, but if we need one to replace a government that doesn’t respect democracy with one that does, I can’t think of no more necessary an election!" -via the Liberal Party website
New Democratic Party
Party Leader: Jack Layton. Born in Montreal, Layton is participating in his third federal election. He is facing a health scare due to prostate cancer treatment, and in early 2011 he fractured his hip. He is married to NDP MP Olivia Chow and Layton has two children from a previous marriage.
Last election: The NDP took 36 seats in 2008, seven seats shy of reaching the highest amount of NDP seats - 43 in 1988.
Courtesy New Democratic Party of Canada
New Democrat Leader Jack Layton
• Increasing corporate taxes
• Cutting credit fees at prime +5
• Introduce a Job Creation Tax Credit that will provide up to $4,500 per new hire
• Introduce a Parliament Act that will prevent the Prime Minister from requesting prorogation of Parliament
• Foreign policy that emphasizes diplomacy and peacekeeping instead of offensive military action
• Gender equality, supports same-sex marriage
• Streamline the recognition of foreign credentials, overseas degrees and previous employment experience
Recent announcements: Would hire 1,200 doctors and to train thousands of nurses over the next 10 years; would cut the small business tax rate to 9 percent from 11 per cent and increase the corporate tax rate to 19.5 percent from its current 16.5 percent; promises to cancel Harper’s multi-billion-dollar fossil fuel subsidies and invest in clean energy sources.
Memorable quote: "Imagine living in a Canada where your Prime Minister makes you feel included, represented and proud. Where your Prime Minister cares enough to do the right thing — even on something as tough as bringing stability to Afghanistan. That’s what it should feel like to be a Canadian citizen." -via the NDP website.
Party Leader: Gilles Duceppe. A native Montrealer, Duceppe has been leading the Bloc since 1997. Entering his seventh election, he enjoyed an approval rating of 95.3 per cent by his party at their annual general meeting in February 2011.
Last election: In 2008, the Bloc took 47 seats in the House of Commons
Courtesy Bloc Québécois
Bloc Québécois leader Gilles Duceppe
• Devoted to promoting Quebec sovereignty and French as Quebec's primary language
• Military devoted to peacekeeping missions
• Tax incentives to help families convert home heating system and do energy efficient retrofits
• Boost in education, particularly post-secondary transfers
• Decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana
Recent announcements: Wants Canada to transition to green economy; called Harper's plan for the $6.2-billion Lower Churchill River hydroelectric development in Labrador a "slap in the face"
Memorable quote: "The sad thing is that in Canada, Harper is trying to play on an anti-Quebec sentiment instead of having a democratic [stand]." -via Globe & Mail
Party Leader: Elizabeth May. Born in Connecticut and raised in Nova Scotia, May won the leadership of the Green Party in 2006. A major breakthrough for her fledgling party occurred in 2008, when she convinced a media consortium to include her in televised debates with the major parties, after initially shutting her out.
Last election: Failed to win any seats, but reached a high mark of 6.8 percent of the popular vote
Courtesy Green Party of Canada
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May
• Increased taxes on polluters
• Reduced payroll and income taxes
• Increased government transparency
• Proportional representation during election voting
• Support for family farms
Recent announcements: Filed a claim to be included in this year's televised debates after being shut out once again; promises to reduce GHG emissions by 6% below 1990 levels by 2012; promises an end to attack ads against other parties.
Memorable quote: "Democracy can't survive in a toxic soup of negativity. It kills democracy at its roots and it makes people turn away and not vote.” -via Globe & Mail
Based on figures released April 1, as reported by the Globe & Mail, the Conservatives lead with 39.4 percent, followed by the Liberals at 31.7 percent, the Bloc Quebecois at 8.5 percent, the NDP at 16.1 percent and the Greens at 4.4 percent.