Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Canada Election 2006: Liberal Red Book platform released (leaked)

The Western Standard received a leaked copy of the yet unreleased Liberal Red Book (download here). I suppose this will fuel more debates about a possible mole in the Liberal Party. Not surprisingly, it contains no mention of the Hail Mary notwithstanding removal pledge by Martin. But that's what happens when you make ad hoc policy announcements, you abandon your own base. I still think it is foolish of a party to make the bulk of their announcements until after a debate (ie. in a released platform such as this), where party leaders can't hold each other to account directly.

Slogan: "Ensuring Canada's Success." So much different than the "Choose your Canada" scare tactics seen on a TV near you. I guess going negative was "plan B".

Odd phrasing: Speaking of the softwood lumber dispute, the Red Book rips this little piece from the Conservative playbook, calling their solution "Standing Up for Canada on Softwood Lumber". Soft Plagiarism?! You be the judge.

Left out: any mention of Bono.

Surprise inclusion: Any mention of demographics.

Surprise exclusion: That the solution to Canada's demographic problems could be realized through an increased fertility rate.

Boring rating: very high. Let's be honest here. I grew very tired - and fast - reading this.

Other Highlights: Rehashing old promises, stealing slogans, and other follies!

Demographics

The Canadian population is growing older – first, because our birth rate for the past three decades has been below replacement rate. And second, because the post-war baby boom is about to hit retirement age. The implication of this is significant – fewer workers supporting more seniors. By 2015, Canada’s domestic labour force will actually start to shrink....

The obvious solution here is to encourage families to have more babies. Hey, its working in Australia ("
AUSTRALIA has experienced the biggest increase in its fertility rate in almost a decade, and family-friendly policies and the $3000 baby bonus have been given the credit.").

The Liberal solution? "
All of the net growth will need to come from immigration." This assumes that other countries have the fertility rates to meet our demand. NEWSFLASH: they don't. Canada will need to actually start producing some legislation encouraging familes. Perhaps that is too hard for the Liberals to consider, however. But still, is this little stat not shocking? The fertility rate has dropped from a high of 3.94 in the late 50's to 1.49 in 2002.

The Economy

For Liberals, the debt burden is not only an economic issue.We believe that government has a moral responsibility not to pass the debt incurred by one generation onto the backs of the next...

If my memory serves me correctly, wasn't it under Liberal governments that Canada's staggering debt began to accumulate? But no matter.

To guide the use of any possible unplanned surplus funds in future years, the Martin government introduced new legislation in the last Parliament which provides that a budget surplus in excess of the $3 billion Contingency Reserve (which if not needed is used to pay down debt) will be divided in equal thirds among personal tax cuts, new investment, and further debt repayment.

Great. So their platform is a rehashing of what they have already legislated?

Health Care

There is a lot of rehashing of old accomplishments here (ie. First Ministers conference on healthcare). But among the hash comes something that I thought was Harper's bit: guarentees on health care:

A Liberal government will work with the provinces, territories and health care practitioners to implement a Canada Health Care Guarantee.

This is ripped off of what the Conservatives said Dec. 2/2005:

A new Conservative government will work with the provinces to develop a Health Care Guarantee that ensures patients receive essential medical treatment within clinically acceptable waiting times.

Wow, it is even the same name. Can you spell PLAGIARISM? Martin announced this guarentee Jan. 4 - a month after Harper. But has no one noticed that it is the same damn name?

Their new "Public Health Care Protection Initiative" violates the
Charter too. It would, "Consider it a violation of the Canada Health Act if a physician provides the same medically-necessary services to some patients on a privately paid basis..." But didn't Chaoulli pretty much state that if an urgent service would be delivered in a fashion that would endanger your life or security of the person, then it is not a violation of the Canada Health Act to seek private treatment? So much for government defending the people's rights to their own health. The way I see it, protecting the consent of a small few is more important to him than the millions of people waiting for medical treatment.

Aboriginal issues

The Liberals want to

Double the number of Aboriginal health professionals in 10 years from the present level of 150 physicians and 1,200 nurses;

That is easier said than done. You can't just slot people of a certain group into a certain professional field. Of course, the Liberals also have still kept the same promises from the past 8 Red Book, such as their desire to

"Work to close the gap between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Canadians in key areas such as infant mortality, youth suicide, childhood obesity and diabetes."

Maybe the Liberals believe in property rights after all (as much as Martin hammered Harper on this tonight):

we will:
– Encourage a culture of home ownership in Aboriginal communities.
– Expand the skills of Aboriginal people and their governments to manage their land,
infrastructure and financing.


Tax Cuts:

While Paul Martin accuses Harper of tax cuts which benefit the rich, the Liberals are proposing these two ditties that they are committed to:

"Reducing personal taxes by raising the basic personal amount, cutting marginal rates, and eventually increasing the threshold when the top rate kicks in to $200,000;"

Accelerating the increase of the income threshold (from $200,000 to $300,000) below which the 12% small business tax rate applies;

Crime:


We will also provide an additional $10 million a year for 10 years to increase the number of graduating RCMP officers.

That ought to make no dent whatsoever in replacing RCMP officers. Thank goodness there is no mention of the dreaded "reverse onus" proposition.

Environment

If every human being consumed as much as the average Canadian or American does today, it would take five planet Earths to provide the necessary resources.

If every nation had as much babies as Canada does, the population of the world would crash and burn drastically. Who looks even more selfish now?

OTHER Highlights:

  • Day care:You've heard it before.
  • Post-secondary: See above bullet.
  • Agriculture: snooze.
  • Forestry: no mention of the softwood lumber dispute.
  • Arctic sovereignty: "The Liberal government has pledged $150 million of new money to bolster Canadian participation in the International Polar Year, including a targeted research program on climate change impacts and adaptation." This seems like an awful lot of money for a so-called Polar Year. I don't approve. Their military solutions are also weak sauce.
  • Promises that cannot be delivered bin: "A Liberal government will build on the international reputation earned through Canada’s prominent initiatives on such issues as disarmament and the landmines convention and will lead an international campaign at the United Nations to establish a treaty banning all weapons in space." Pipe-dream. And what if nations like China or North Korea refuse to sign on? Then what? Say "don't do that"?
  • Occupying 0.0046% of the Red Book, I can also see how the Democratic Renewal is also a fundamental top Liberal priority: "In the coming year, a Liberal government will engage in dialogue with Canadians to define the values and principles they wish to see reflected in their democratic institutions." Who hasn't heard this for years?
:::

Overall, slick job. Nothing much new here though. That could, ultimately, be the biggest burn on the Liberal party in due time however. Martin knew he had nothing new to say in the Red Book that wasn't already in his previous campaign speeches and pre-election promises. Thus, the "napkin" notwithstanding-ban idea during the English debate, if you can even call it an idea.

No comments: