This past week, Conservative leader Andrew Scheer further defined the Conservative platform with a series of policy announcements focusing specifically on climate, ethics, infrastructure and energy.
The Conservative Party released their home retrofits policy that would allow Canadians to claim a 20 per cent refundable credit on their income tax for green improvements to their homes up to $20,000. This credit would save Canadians up to $3,800 on their renovations each year. Eligible renovations would include insulation, furnaces, new doors and windows, heating and cooling systems or solar panels.
Scheer also announced that his party would launch a judicial inquiry into the SNC-Lavalin Affair, including changes to how Cabinet-level documents can be accessed. The proposed changes would allow the RCMP to petition the Supreme Court of Canada to obtain access to cabinet documents that have been vetted for sensitive information. This announcement was made in Justin Trudeau’s Montreal riding of Papineau – just in case it wasn’t already clear who was the target of his announcements.
As the climate strike rallies took over major cities across Canada, Scheer announced that he would cancel the Liberals’ botched $35 billion Canada Infrastructure Bank and instead prioritize critical infrastructure projects that shorten commute times. Scheer cited examples like the George Massey Tunnel Replacement Project in BC, and the Ontario Line and the Yonge Subway Extension in the GTA.
Finally, Scheer provided more details in his proposal to create a National Energy Corridor that would allow oil, gas, hydroelectricity, and telecommunications to move from coast to coast. He touted the plan as minimizing environmental impacts, lowering the costs of environmental assessments without sacrificing quality, and increasing certainty for investors.
The Conservatives ended the week in the uncomfortable position of defending their leader’s resume after the Globe and Mail reported that Andrew Scheer may not have been licensed as an insurance broker in Saskatchewan, as his bio claims — though the claim is not receiving much traction outside the realm of political pundits and social media.
On Sunday, the Liberals unveiled their full platform for the 2019 election. While it contained many promises that had already been announced, there were many new additions, including significant cost relief for students by increasing student grants by 40 per cent. Other highlights included support for the creation of clean fuel technologies, consumer credits for the purchase of used Zero Emissions Vehicles (building on the credits introduced in Budget 2019 to buy new ZEVs), new tools to fight online extremism, and protections for Canadians’ online privacy.
The platform also included specific promises to Indigenous groups such as sub-sections detailing promises to the Inuit, Metis and First Nations, respectively addressing each group’s priorities. Some of the priorities listed included the adoption of the United Nations Declaration for Indigenous Peoples by the end of 2020, assisting the Metis in nation building, and moving all Inuit communities to renewable forms of power generation (solar, hydro, wind) by 2030.
The Liberal plan would add $57 billion in new spending over the next four years, offset by $25 billion in new revenues from sources including a new tax on internet platforms and a 10 per cent luxury tax on cars, boats and planes costing over $100,000. While the platform opens up the Liberals to criticism for adding billions more to the debt, Canada’s debt-to-GDP ratio would continue to decrease over the course of the mandate as the economy grows. The University of Ottawa’s Institute for Fiscal Studies and Democracy, headed by former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page, gave the Liberal plan’s costing an overall “good” rating.
Prior to the platform launch, the Liberals focused much of the past week on climate-related announcements culminating with Justin Trudeau’s participation in the Montreal climate strike rally and a meeting with the movement’s leading global activist, Greta Thunberg.
Liberal climate announcements included a plan to help homeowners and landlords pay for retrofits by providing an interest-free loan of up to $40,000. It would also help people buy newly built homes that are certified zero-emissions through a Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5,000.
The Liberals pledged to invest $100 million in skills training, to ensure there are enough qualified workers to keep up with energy audits, retrofits, and net-zero home construction. They also announced policies to help Canadians whose homes and jobs and livelihoods are affected when disaster strikes.
On the same day as the climate strike protests, the Liberals promised to launch a program that will plant two billion trees over ten years as part of a $3 billion effort to deploy natural climate solutions. The policy is expected to create 3,500 seasonal jobs in the forestry sector.
Finally, while in Northern Ontario, Trudeau announced that a re-elected Liberal government would conserve and protect 25 per cent of Canada’s land and 25 per cent of Canada’s oceans by 2025, working towards 30 per cent of each by 2030. He also pledged to give every child the chance to learn how to camp by the time they reach grade eight by expanding the successful Learn to Camp program, with additional supports to help less privileged children and their families to camp in one of Canada’s national or provincial parks.
Over the past week the NDP amped up their attacks on the governing Liberals as both parties fight for progressive voters.
On Wednesday, the NDP released its “New Deal for B.C.” to address housing affordability, climate change and economic investment. The package proposes a dedicated RCMP unit to fight money laundering at a cost of $20 million a year, with B.C. as a priority. Money laundering is often identified as contributing to skyrocketing housing costs in BC and other hot markets.
The plan also proposes a 15 per cent national foreign buyers’ tax on properties purchased by those who are no Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and a national beneficial ownership registry that will make it easier for tax authorities, police, and regulators to crack down on tax evasion, fraud, and money laundering.
The announcement also includes specifics on climate change such as protections for coastal land and waterways, and support for First Nations.
On Thursday, the NDP announced a rental subsidy to target 500,000 families with up to $5,000 dollars a year to help them pay for their rent. This adds to their previous announcement to build 500,000 additional affordable housing units.
The Green Party released a costed platform that would see a massive shift in how the economy is organized. Calling for a carbon neutral economy in a short period of time, the Green platform is focused on making Canada both environmentally and economically sustainable. These changes include:
- Prioritizing removing tax breaks and subsidies for the wealthy and the natural resources sector raising corporate taxes, placing additional taxes on banks, and financial transactions.
- Increasing spending for expanded healthcare coverage pharmacare, more childcare spaces, and eliminating post-secondary tuition.
- Reducing emissions through no new burning of fossil fuels, no new pipelines, coal or gas drilling or mining, including offshore wells, ending internal combustion engine passenger vehicles by 2030, exempting electric vehicles from federal sales tax, completely overhauling the electric grid and electricity transportation infrastructure like VIA rail, among other initiatives.
However, the think tank headed up by former Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page gave the Green platform a failing grade for having unrealistic economic or fiscal assumptions.
Also, this past week, the Green Party called for the decriminalization of all drugs to help deal with the opioid crisis. The announcement prompted questions for all party leaders on their plans to address the crisis, although both Scheer and Trudeau ruled out full decriminalization.
“I try not to focus on the individuals and rather focus on the whole picture because … of course it’s easier to just blame someone and of course he has a lot of responsibility … and he, of course, is not doing enough. But we need to, because this is such a huge problem. This is a system that is wrong. So my message to all the politicians is the same — to just listen to the science and act on the science.”
– Climate activist Greta Thunberg on Justin Trudeau
“It’s the exact same platform as (Ontario Premier) Kathleen Wynne… but with canoes.”
– Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer on the Liberal platform
“There is a word down here we use to describe what Andrew Scheer has been saying, I wouldn’t say it in polite company but we spread it over the fields to grow potatoes”
– Lawrence Macaulay, Liberal Candidate, Cardigan
The public poll aggregators (CBC poll tracker and 338Canada.com) remain largely unchanged from last week, with a gold medal match between the Liberals and Conservatives who are statistically tied at 33-34 per cent nationally, and a bronze medal match between the NDP at 14 per cent and the Greens at 10 per cent – although some polls like Nanos’ free daily tracker have the Greens and NDP now tied. The seat projections still give the Liberals the edge, although in minority territory.
Abacus Data’s weekly release found the Liberals rebounding slightly as the blackface controversy recedes into the past. They found the Liberals leading in all regions but Alberta and the Prairies.
A couple of articles on polling trends caught our attention. Mainstreet Research did a survey of 905-area code ridings that found the Liberals with a strong lead in this key battleground. They also document the surge of the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec, who are now polling in 2nd in the province after the Liberals.
Maclean’s & 338Canada.com took a closer look at the rural-urban divide in Canada and found that it breaks clearly along party lines, with ridings falling in the middle in terms of population density – Canada’s suburbs – making up the main battlegrounds between the Liberals and Conservatives.