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Liberals trot out Paul Martin to decry NDP's 'far-right' swerve

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Image: Flickr/Andrew Reeves

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The claim: Paul Martin says the NDP has moved to the "far right." Is he right?

The basis for his criticism is that Martin is a Liberal and he supports the Liberals. But the claim has gotten some traction online. Who's closer to communism, and who's closer to fascism this race?

Infrastructure spending: the Liberals committed to spending $125 billion over 10 years. This spending would be the cause of the potential deficits that they plan incur in the first three years. They will work through the New Building Canada Fund, a fund that finances public sector infrastructure by using public-private partnerships for the largest projects.

The NDP has committed to fixing roads and public transfer, and paying for some of it through gas tax money, but they have yet to launch a more robust, or detailed infrastructure spending program. Unless they end up announcing an infrastructure program financed through P3s (which the NDP has routinely opposed), it'll be hard for the NDP to out-flank the Liberals to the right for this set of promises.

Social issues: While both parties share in certain progressive politics, the NDP has consistently come out firmly on one side of many issues while the Liberals wobble. For example, Trudeau has taken a hard stance on access to abortion but the issue still divides some Liberals. The NDP is soundly pro-choice. The Liberals have opposed a $15 federal minimum wage by claiming it won't help people the NDP doesn't claim it will help; and their childcare benefit would not fix the high cost and scarcity of spaces, unlike the NDP's promise for $15 per day childcare. Martin is still seen by many as the guy who cut Canada's national housing strategy, a cut that the NDP opposed and references from time to time.

And the Liberals supported Bill C-51. What good is a left-wing policy when the ability to protest is severely threatened?

Policing: The NDP's $250 million promise to hire more police is not a progressive promise. The Liberals haven't made any promises about policing so: point Liberals.

Record: Martin will go down in history for having overseen the first deep cut to the Canada Health and Social Transfer in the post-war period. He pulled $7.6 billion out of the transfer and it sent shockwaves across the provinces. The public service was slashed. NAFTA was never repealed. It makes one wonder: why did they trot out Paul Martin? Was Bob Rae unavailable? The optics would have been better, at least for non-Ontarian Canadians.

What is this actually about then?

During the 2014 Ontario election, the argument that the Liberals had outflanked the ONDP on the left gained huge traction, but it's unlikely to work in this election. The parties are in different places in the polls and the massive infrastructure promise from the Liberals does not hold the same place that an Ontario Pension Plan did. NDP has been much stronger than the ONDP, especially thanks to promising progressive policies, like an increased minimum wage and lower cost daycare. 




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Image: Flickr/Andrew Reeves

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