rabble blogs are the personal pages of some of Canada's most insightful progressive activists and commentators. All opinions belong to the writer; however, writers are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new bloggers -- contact us for details.

The best of all policies: My wish for the ideal platform

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support rabble.ca in its summer fundraiser today for as little as $1 per month!

Photo: Alexandre Normand/flickr

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

I'm often asked which opposition party, with a potential to win the election, has the better platform when it comes to tackling climate change and inequality -- the two great inconvenient truths of our time, and the focus of much of our work at CCPA. (I'm leaving out from this comparison the Conservatives, who have thus far proposed nothing meaningful in this campaign to address either of these urgent issues, and the Greens, who have some very good policies with respect to both, but who have no chance of forming government.)

So here's the thing. When it comes to those core issues, both the NDP and Liberal plans have their strengths (and weaknesses). And neither have released their full platforms at the time of this writing.

Both have a dog's breakfast of positions on tar sands pipelines. Both parties are strongly opposed to the Northern Gateway Pipeline, but highly confusing when it comes to Energy East and Kinder Morgan/Trans Mountain. The NDP is stronger against Keystone XL.

They are both sounding pretty good on carbon pricing, and are offering a modest grab bag of other climate action policies. (Stay tuned for more CCPA platform analysis in the coming weeks.)

The Liberals have a better position on raising personal income taxes for the rich, but are proposing to offset much of this with a cut to the middle tax bracket (on incomes between $45-89K) that is expensive and unnecessary, and also benefits upper-income people. Effectively, their tax package mostly shuffles income within the top 20 per cent of income earners (for more on the distribution of the Liberal's proposed tax rate changes, see this post from CCPA senior economist David Macdonald).

The Liberals have sensibly chosen not to run on cutting the small business tax rate, a silly and cynical NDP proposal that will have no economic benefit and would give a tax cut to wealthy lawyers, doctors and other high-earners who structure their income as a business. The NDP, however, have a better and much-needed position on raising the general corporate income tax rate.

Both wisely promise to scrap income-splitting for families with children, and would redeploy those tax resources in better ways. And both have said they would not increase the contribution ceiling for Tax Free Savings Accounts (as the Conservatives recently did in a brash gift to the wealthy).

The Liberals have a better position on scrapping the mis-named Universal Child Care Benefit and turning it into a targeted Child Benefit, while the NDP have a much stronger position on building a true national child care program, with fees capped at $15 a day.

The NDP are rightly proposing to re-establish a federal minimum wage, which the Liberals have oddly opposed. Both parties have proposed worthwhile infrastructure plans that would provide a boost to job creation.

The Liberals have made some important announcements with respect to tackling Aboriginal poverty, while the NDP have done similarly for seniors' poverty.

And no doubt we'll hear more specifics from both parties in the days to come (so far, online details are thin).

For those wanting to see what a truly ambitious and comprehensive plan to tackle inequality would look like, check out the CCPA's new platform to end inequality.

On overall fiscal policy, the NDP, in a ridiculous grab for the centre, have committed to a balanced budget from the get-go. This is an economically and socially foolhardy promise given the state of the economy and the likelihood of an inherited deficit from the Conservative government (according to the Parliamentary Budget Office). And it makes no sense to promise a balanced budget when there is such a desperate need to invest public dollars to meet our climate obligations (transit, green infrastructure, renewable energy, etc.) and deal with social needs from affordable housing to seniors care. That said, hearing the party of Paul Martin disparage austerity is a bit rich.

Of course if there were a minority government outcome, all the parties would be "liberated" from the most ill-conceived elements of their platforms, and instead would have to bargain hard for their preferred ideas. Then the next government could cobble together a new program that draws upon the best from all platforms, the result of which could be the start of a real agenda to address climate and inequality.

Seth Klein is Director of CCPA's BC Office. Follow Seth on Twitter @SethDKlein.

Photo: Alexandre Normand/flickr

Chip in to keep stories like these coming.

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading rabble.ca than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable.

rabble.ca has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! rabble.ca embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on rabble.ca and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.