By Reid Offers
With students and families getting settled back into the routine for the upcoming school year, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s team is looking at just the right date to call elections for Parliament. According to the Canadian Federal Elections Act, Mr. Trudeau has to ask the Governor-General to call an election, also called “dropping the writ,” on or before October 21st of this year. As we remember, we just had our provincial elections last Spring with the United Conservative Party taking back the reins of government from the New Democratic Party. From income taxes to pipelines, federal elections are just as important to the daily lives of Canadians as provincial ones, and elections that keep the social fabric of this regionally defined nation from turmoil. With that in mind, I know some of y’all may have grown tired of politics, and I know it can be tiring; however, I am here to give a rundown of things to come for this year’s federal elections.
Why We Have Federal Elections
“Isn’t one election enough?” you might be wondering. No–not when almost a third of the country with 36 million people speaks a different language than the rest. When the Fathers of Confederation joined together to write our great constitution, there was one big problem at hand: Quebec. How the heck would they be able to govern both Francophone and Anglophone people? Looking yonder south, they came up with a simple answer: Federalism! Despite having just had a very bloody civil war on the exact concept of how to govern two peoples under one government, federalism was the best way to do so. With a federal government comes legal powers that define the whole nation. Under our federal system, the government does things like taxation, the formation of treaties, the printing of money, the formation of armies, and much more. It wouldn’t make much sense to have a country with different currencies from province to province, or Alberta to have an army and Quebec to not. Although any government is going to have its hiccups, ours seems to be working okay, seeing how we haven’t had a civil war yet unlike the United States.
Where the Parties Stand on Post-Secondary Education
Although education is mandated by the provincial governments, federal funding is key to the quality of education we get. At the moment, the New Democrats, Conservatives, the Greens, and the Liberals are the only parties with official stances on their platforms in regards to post-secondary education and skills training.
(Liberal Party) At the moment, the Canadian Student Grant program will provide roughly $2,000 a year for aid for a full-time student. The Liberals propose bumping this up to $3,000 a year for full-time students. Alongside this as well, they want to make it easier for students to pay off their loans, proposing to pay any interest on the loans until graduates are able to make more than $25,000 a year. (https://www.liberal.ca/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/New-plan-for-a-strong-middle-class.pdf)
The New Democrats, on the other hand, advocate for tuition-free post-secondary schooling for all Canadians, as well as eliminating interest on student loans. Although they do not have any official plan in order to get these sorts of educational reforms done, they are the only party advocating for such extreme reform (https://www.ndp.ca/commitments).
The Conservative Party of Canada takes a more moderate approach similar to that of the Liberals. In their party’s policy declaration, it is stated that they wish to take 8 months of interest relief for student loans, instead of the 6 month period currently implemented. They also want to change how student loans are calculated, instead of factoring in parental income and accumulated wealth, they want to make it to where only personal resources are factored in. (https://cpcassets.conservative.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/03154936/00477c06063465c.pdf)
The Green Party of Canada is advocating for tuition-free post-secondary education, student debt cancellation on graduates with more than $10,000 in loans, as well as implementing programs to promote and invest in new green apprenticeship programs for young Canadians. (https://www.greenparty.ca/en/our-vision/support-our-students)
Projections of Elections
At the moment, the Conservative Party and the Liberal Party are neck-to-neck in the polls. Currently, the Liberals have a 67% chance of winning the most seats, whereas the Conservatives are at a 31% chance of winning the most seats.
The majority of the liberal seats can be found in Ontario, Quebec, and the Maritimes. While a majority of the Conservative seats are being swept up from across the prairies. The NDP is poised to lose seats while still holding onto ridings in and around Vancouver, and the Greens are only set to win a couple of ridings in BC as well.
What a Conservative Government Would Look Like to Albertans
With emotions still riding high from the downturn here in the oil industry, the anti-liberal sentiment is as strong as ever here in Alberta; however, not much would change here if Andrew Scheer takes the reins from Trudeau. As I have noted in last year’s issues, the downturn in the oil industry is out of the hands of the government and there isn’t much that can be done about it. Come October 22, if Scheer is in power, Albertans will still be out of oil work and pipelines still will not be finished overnight, but confidence and faith may be restored in Ottawa if he does win.
What a Liberal Government Would Look Like to Albertans
Much of what has been happening since 2015: the Liberals will be focusing on the middle-class, Albertans will continue to feel forgotten by Ottawa, and we will have the occasional visit from Justin Trudeau to keep the Liberal bases in the East happy.
At the end of the day, though, we have to remember that we are Canadians first, and no matter the political differences, everybody’s opinions are out of respect for what they think is best for Canadian society.