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2015 Canadian election: What the main parties promise

One of the reportedly longest and most expensive campaign seasons in Canadian history is coming to a close today after Prime Minister Stephen Harper formally dissolved parliament on Aug 2. The campaign season has been a grueling race, initially in favour of New Democratic Party leader Thomas Mulcair. However, current polls show the Liberal Party, led by Justin Trudeau, as most likely to form a government.

Lost in the stories about multiple resignations, controversial laws, tasteless Auschwitz jokes and endless attack ads are what each party specifically wants to do. Here is a brief summary of what each party wants in the areas of economy, foreign policy, environment and a wild-card category for miscellaneous campaign promises.

In power since 2006  Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seeking a fourth mandate  hoping to h...

In power since 2006, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is seeking a fourth mandate, hoping to hold onto key Conservative support in the western plains and in suburban Toronto
Geoff Robins, AFP/File

Conservative Party of Canada — Stephen Harper

Economy: Harper hopes to balance Canada’s federal budget this fiscal year. He has promised a number of tax cuts, including reducing to nine percent from 11 percent the small-business tax rate by 2019. He aims to create 1.3 million new jobs by 2020, as well as 700,000 new homeowners by the same year. The government would introduce a permanent home-renovation tax credit at the cost of $1.5 billion a year.

Foreign policy:: The party wants to expand federal laws to make it a crime to travel overseas to fight alongside groups considered terrorist organizations — this would create “no-go” zones except for journalists or those on humanitarian missions. The government would also bring in an additional 10,000 refugees from Syria and Iraq, spend $9 million on a project protecting religious artifacts and spend $10 million on a project devoted to countering terrorism. The budget for the Department of National Defence would increase three percent by 2017-18. At a cost of $163 million, the party would add 6,000 people to the Canadian forces.

Environment: The Conservative government would partner with the Pacific Salmon Foundation and donate $15 million to replenish British Columbia’s estuaries. The government would also start a $5 million fund (beginning in 2017) to protect bird and moose populations.

Wild card: The government does not want to legalize or decriminalize possession of marijuana. The government would ban wearing the niqab during the Canadian citizenship ceremony; it would also set up a hotline to report “barbaric cultural practices” like honour killings.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau  43  is the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau  who is consid...

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau, 43, is the son of former prime minister Pierre Trudeau, who is considered the father of modern Canada
Geoff Robins, AFP/File

Liberal Party of Canada — Justin Trudeau

Economy: At the cost of running a deficit until 2020, Trudeau pledges $200 million for forestry, farming, mining, energy and fishing; $1.5 billion over four years to devise a strategy to help young people find jobs; $500 million to the provinces for skilled trades training; $200 million for federal training programs; $380 million for the arts, including reversing Conservative cuts to the CBC. Trudeau would also reduce the middle-class income-tax bracket to 20.5 percent from 22 percent; to pay for this, he would create a new 33-percent bracket for those earning $200,000 or more a year. He would also stop income-splitting for families, but not for seniors.

Foreign policy: The Liberals would end bombing in Syria and Iraq but keep trainers present; the government would allow in more refugees from those areas. The government would amend Bill C-51 by limiting which agencies can hold onto personal data, eliminating CSIS’s ability to obtain warrants to break the law in order to disrupt terrorists and add three-year sunset clauses to some provisions. The party would reverse declining foreign aid, create a new committee to help manage relationships with the Unites States and create a new trilateral summit between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico.

Environment: The party would oppose the Northern Gateway pipeline but support the Energy East and Keystone XL pipelines. A price on carbon would be implemented so provinces can design their own carbon plans, and the party would partner with the provinces to set carbon-emission targets. The Liberals would also phase out subsidies to fossil-fuel industries and increase protected marine and coastal areas by 10 percent by the year 2020.

Wild card: Trudeau would reinstate Canada Post’s door-to-door mail delivery, reinstate the long-form census and make Statistics Canada an independent entity. He would also create new restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy food and drinks to children.

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks at a campaign rally in London  Ontario October 4  2015

NDP leader Thomas Mulcair speaks at a campaign rally in London, Ontario October 4, 2015
Geoff Robins, AFP/File

New Democratic Party of Canada — Thomas Mulcair

Economy: Mulcair would balance the budget in the year 2016. He would not raise personal income tax rates while cancelling income-splitting for families. He would create a $15-a-day national childcare program and create one million child-care spaces across Canada. The party would set aside $100 million to create 40,000 jobs, paid internships and co-op placements. There would also be $1.8 billion spent over four to increase healthcare for seniors and $2.6 billion over four years to create universal drug prescriptions. This would also cut costs of drugs through bulk purchases. The NDP would also not ratify the Trans Pacific Partnership.

Foreign policy: The NDP government would also end bombing in Iraq and Syria while pulling out all military personnel. It would repeal Bill C-51 in its entirety. It would contribute 0.71 percent of gross national income to foreign aid, up from 0.24 percent.

Environment: The NDP would continue to oppose the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines while only supporting the Energy East pipeline after more thorough environmental reviews. The government would create a cap-and-trade system for carbon emissions and redirect $1 billion in fossil-fuel subsidies toward clean-energy projects. It would spend $100 million to help 25 northern/remote communities to decrease their reliance on diesel and $200 million would go toward retrofitting 50,000 homes and 15,000 apartments to increase energy efficiency.

Wild card: An NDP government would dedicate 1 cent of the 10-cent federal gas tax to fund construction/repairs of roads, bridges and core infrastructure. The NDP would also reinstate door-to-door Canada Post delivery and the long-form census. Mulcair would decriminalize marijuana and listen to ideas on how to regulate it. The NDP would call an inquiry into missing/murdered aboriginal women.

For more detail on what each party is promising, click here.

Why should Americans care?

Canada is the biggest trading partner of the U.S. — in 2012 alone trade equaled $707 billion. Additionally, President Barack Obama and Stephen Harper have not seen eye-to-eye on key environmental issues, particularly the Keystone XL pipeline. A Trudeau or Mulcair government might mean an enactment of new climate-change policy, which the Harper government has been less willing to discuss.

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