What the NDP (or any other party on the left) needs to do in order to go anywhere on fiscal responsibility is to outline a clear fiscal accountability plan before any tax increases.
This means having a summary of Canadian public accounting that is not 500 pages long and is not one that can only be read by experts -- that's baffle gab.
This accountability package should include a report presented at tax time as a part of your tax package. It should outline in a few pages and in plain language where the money goes-- what new programs or initiatives have cost and what their purpose is. It should outline what existing program areas cost and a report on their effectiveness. It should be produced and published by the Auditor General and printed by the Canada Revenue Agency.
Secondly, there should be an accountability framework for all proposed budget legislation that requires the government to lay out what the purpose is of each new initiative, the expected costs, who is expected to benefit, the purpose and the measurements by which we will later use to determine success.
Thirdly the accountability package should have a sustainability report analyzing the sustainability of the current tax framework over the longer term. It should also include estimates of what Canadians pay in taxes (including all taxes) and an analysis of the relative fairness of them.
Fourthly, the tax package should include a report of 1-2 pages from each of the elected federal political parties. That report should be mandated to fiscal and budget spending. Essentially providing Canadians with a choice of political messages on the fiscal situation and what choices Canadians have.
Fifth, the auditor should have her/his budget and mandate for auditing and value for money expanded.
Sixth, Based on the government's priorities an independent commission should be struck that publicly advises the government of what levels of taxation are required and which ones would both benefit the economy and serve to deliver the most fairness. This report would not be binding but would inform the house and the public. It should include all committments the government has made.
The NDP only after installing this accountability package would consider any tax increases. In any case the independent commission would warn the public of the need for higher taxes before the government made a decision but at least we would get a heads up if a government was taxing too far below its committments.
Now I recognize that this would add perhaps another 20 pages to the tax package alone but at least this would give Canadians some pause to consider why the government was taxing them and what value they were getting. I think people would be surprised how many would read those 20 pages or so. Indeed perhaps more than the number who watch election debates because it would be more relevant.
I think if the NDP actually did all this- it might shock the shit out of itself and get elected. People are fed up with smooth politicians that treat them as if they are stupid and don't allow those among us who are interested but don't have a year to do the research some way of overseeing the government. We should not be treated to any less than a shareholder in a major corporation. This enterprise called Canada is our enterprise.
The above accountability package is where I would begin.
If I had the resources I'd consider trying to run to do this because frankly I believe this is the only way we are going to get anything other than the Liberal Tory crap we are used to and the NDP does not compensate for the lack of these types of policies by offering friendlier rhetoric.
What I have offered is radical. Maybe it is actually the foundation of a new left-of-centre party based on public empowerment through representative democracy. It is in fact the only viable alternative to direct democracy which in fact is a failure because it is not accountable over time. It is also the only way the public can support public spending without resentment and opposition at a level that would handicap any activist government.