2008 Election Campaign Political Party Platforms

Feature by Jay Makarenko || Oct 3, 2008

Find a summary of the major political parties’ election platforms and key election promises for the 2008 federal election in Canada. Links to the official party platforms for the Conservative Party of Canada, Liberal Party of Canada, New Democratic Party of Canada, and the Green Party of Canada are also available.

Conservative Party of Canada Platform

The Conservative Party’s 2008 election platform was released in a policy document titled The True North Strong and Free: Stephen Harper’s Plan for Canadians. The Party’s website also list eight key policy priorities on its website: sovereignty, leadership, the environment, health care, lower taxes, child care, tackling crime, and accountability. The website also provides a backgrounder on the Conservative government’s February 2008 budget, which is titled Responsible Leadership for Uncertain Times. The following provides highlights of these various policy documents.

Economy: Central to the Conservative economic strategy is tax reduction. This includes previously announced tax reductions, such as the lowering of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from seven to five percent, as was as reducing personal income and corporate taxes for individuals and businesses. New proposals include lowering taxes on diesel and aviation fuel by half and further reductions in corporate taxes for small and medium-sized business. Other economic policies include reducing the regulatory burden for small businesses and northern development; a new $75 million venture capital fund to help businesses commercialize new technology developments; a $900 million Strategic Aerospace and Defence Initiative and a $250 million Automotive Innovation Fund to support these industrial sectors; a $1 billion Community Development Trust to support communities and workers in struggling industries; a commitment to reduce inter-provincial trade barriers by 2010; pursuing new trade agreements with emerging markets; as well as a reorganization of federal regional development strategies.

Environment: The Conservatives have committed to reducing Canada’s greenhouse gases by 20 percent below 2006 levels by 2020, and cutting air pollution by 50 percent by 2015. There targets will be achieved through government laws imposed on industries, as well as national caps for industrial emissions commonly associated with smog and acid rain. Other environmental policies include promoting smarter energy use through the ecoEnergy Initiative; a Chemical Management Plan to regulate chemicals harmful to human health and the environment; $1.5 billion over seven years for the production of renewable fuels; a commitment to ensure that 90 percent of Canadian electricity needs are generated through non-emitting sources by 2020; and additional government funding to acquire and preserve ecologically sensitive lands.

Health care: The Conservative Party remains committed to Canada’s system of public health care. Specific policies proposed or introduced by the Conservatives include Patient Wait Time Guarantee agreements with the provinces and territories; continued implementation of the 10-year $41.3 billion Plan to Strengthen Health Care (the plan was introduced by the previous Liberal government in 2004); establishing the Canadian Partnership Against Cancer to implement a national cancer strategy; increased funding for new training of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals; increased investment in the Canada Health Infoway to develop electronic health records.

Social Justice: Conservative policies for social justice include a combination of targeted tax reductions, new spending programs, and new justice-related legislation. Specific policies include a Canada Employment Credit and Tax Fairness Plan to reduce taxes for working families and seniors; tax credits for public transit, kid’s sports, textbooks, tools, and apprentices; increased support to the provinces and territories to create new child care spaces; increasing the Senior Age Credit amount by an additional $1,000; and allowing income splitting for caregivers of family members with disabilities. Also social policies include introducing stiffer punishments for serious crimes, including changes to Canada’s youth offender laws and ending house arrest for some crimes; increased spending for police and security services to reduce crime.

Liberal Party of Canada Platform

The Liberal Party has outlined its 2008 election platform in a policy document entitled Richer, Fairer, Greener: An Action Plan for the 21st Century. Core planks of the platform include the economy, the environment, social justice, and foreign policy. Highlights of the document include:

Economy: A key component of the Liberal Party’s economic policies is the encouragement of a green economy through the development of environmentally-friendly industries and jobs. The Liberals are also committed to reducing income and corporate tax rates and balanced federal budgets as means of spurring economic growth. The Liberals have also targeted infrastructure and education as critical to continued economic prosperity. Specific policies include a 10-year $70 billion plan to invest directly in Canada’s infrastructure; increased support for university-based research; simplifying tax support for students; and reforms to student loan initiatives. The Liberals have also promised to create a $1 billion Advanced Manufacturing Prosperity Fund to assist manufacturing industries and workers facing economic difficulties.

For more information on the Liberal Party’s economic policies:

Environment: The Liberals have adopted the Green Shift as the core of their environmental policies. Central to the Green Shift is the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by at least 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, 40 percent by 2035, and 60 to 80 percent by 2050. These goals will be achieved through a progressive carbon tax system, which place levies on carbon emissions. The Liberals are also committed to creating a national carbon trading system, enabling companies to trade emission credits in order to meet targets. Other Liberal environmental policies include a Renewable Power Production Incentive to encourage the development and use of non-carbon-emitting energy sources; providing incentives to Canadians for green home renovations; stiffer fuel efficiency standards for automobiles; the introduction of higher water and air quality standards to reduce pollution; a Toxic Substance Reduction Strategy to safe food products; and the development of a National Ecosystem Stewardship Strategy to protect Canadian wilderness, oceans, and endangered species.

For more information on the Liberal Party’s environmental policies:

Health Care: The Liberal Party has promised to maintain and improve Canada’s public health care system. Specific policies include a Doctors and Nurses Fund to increase training capacity for new health care professionals; working with Aboriginal communities to close the gap in the health status of Aboriginal peoples; and the introduction of a drug plan to ensure Canadians have access to catastrophic drug coverage.

Social Justice: The Liberal Party is committed to a fairer Canada. Specific policies include the 30-50 Plan to Fight Poverty, which is committed to reducing the number of people living below the poverty line by 30 percent and the number of children by 50 percent; an Affordable Housing Plan; pursing the long-term goal of a national high-quality, universal, community-based, early education and child care system; increasing the Guaranteed Income Supplement by $600 per year for low-income seniors; and creating a new relationship with Canada’s First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples, including re-instating the Kelowna Accord.

For more information on the Liberal Party’s social justice policies:

New Democratic Party of Canada Platform

The New Democratic Party has released a document outlining is 2008 election platform. The document focuses on three key policy areas: the economy, health care renewal, and the environment. Highlights of the NDP’s election platform include:

Economy: The NDP promises to promote Canadian jobs and make life more affordable for Canadian families. Specific policies include encouraging job creation and innovation in the new energy economy; improving the fairness of employment standards (including re-establishing the National Minimum Wage; reversing “tax giveaways” to corporations; introducing and maintaining balanced budgets; protecting Canadians from “price gouging” by businesses; implementing income stabilization programs for farmers; promoting long-term economic and environmental sustainability of marine and forestry resources; and re-investing in education, skills training and apprenticeships to help Canadians succeed in the economy.

For more information on the NDP’s economic policies:

Health Care: Central to the NDP’s renewal strategy for health care is a commitment to maintaining and improving the public health care system. Particular policies include training and hiring more doctors and nurses; improving home care; establishing a national prescription drug program; and promoting good health through physical fitness and amateur sport programs.

For more information on the NDP’s health care policies:

Environment: The NDP promises to cut Canadian greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. This will be accomplished through a combination of a “cap and trade” carbon pricing system, mandatory vehicle emission standards, and investing in renewable energy production and consumption. The NDP has also pledged to protect Canada’s water resources by placing some restrictions on the export of bulk water, encouraging more efficient water consumption, and improving water quality through stronger regulations. The NDP has further pledged to: complete the National Parks System; ensure the integrity of parks and protected areas is not compromised by industrial activity or inappropriate development; improve endangered species protection; and establish an Environment Commissioner as an independent Officer of Parliament to provide oversight on the government’s environmental performance.

For more information on the NDP’s environmental policies:

Social justice: The NDP promises to: establish and fund a national child care and early learning program; end poverty in Canada by 2020; reform the Employment Insurance system to ensure fairness; implement a comprehensive and fully-funded affordable housing strategy; invest $5 billion over five years for First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples to improve health services, housing, water services, and local infrastructure; and improve fairness for women in the workplace through initiatives such as strengthening pay equity provisions in the Canada Labour Code.

For more information on the NDP’s social justice policies:

Bloc Québécois Platform

The Bloc Québécois have released their 2008 election platform in a series of French-only documents. For more information on the Bloc Québécois’ election platform and promises:

Green Party of Canada Platform

The Green party released its 2008 election platform in a document entitled Looking Forward: A Fresh Perspective on Canada’s Future. Highlights of the Green Party’s election platform include:

Economy: The Green Party promises to create “healthy” businesses. This includes ensuring Canadian businesses are strong, as well as working to promote the development of new green industries. Specific measures include renegotiating the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA); assisting small business through Green Venture Capital Funds and tax shifting; encouraging the production and consumption of Canadian agricultural products; protecting fish stocks and promoting sustainable aquaculture; and working with the forestry industry to protect jobs and develop value-added products.

For more information on the Green Party’s economic policies:

Environment: A central policy priority of the Green Party is the environment. In this context, the party is committed to cutting greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050; introducing a carbon tax (to be offset by cuts in personal and corporate taxes); expanding research and development of low-carbon technologies; improving energy productivity through smarter regulation of large appliances and vehicles, as well as a national program to retrofit existing buildings; and participating constructively in global negotiations concerning environmental issues.

For more information on the Green Party’s environmental policies:

Taxation: As far as government taxation, the Green Party promises to: introduce a $50 per tonne carbon tax while simultaneously reducing personal and corporate taxes; provide tax breaks to corporations that reduce their carbon emissions; return the Goods and Services Tax (GST) to six percent and to invest the additional government revenue into infrastructure; and eliminate income taxes for those earning less than $20,000.

Health care: The Green Party is committed to protecting Canada’s universal, single-payer public health care system. In addition, the party has pledged other key health-related initiatives, such as limiting the commercialization of genetically modified crops; developing national goals for pre-natal care; reducing cigarette smoking through education and taxes; and promoting healthy eating and physical activity.

For more information on the Green Party’s health care policies:

Social justice: The Green Party is committed to making Canada a more equitable society. Key policies include introducing a Guaranteed Annual Income; ensuring universal access to quality childcare and early childhood education; cutting debt for post-secondary students; honouring the Kelowna Accord with Aboriginals; expanding the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transsexual Canadians; and easing the income support levels required for immigrant family sponsorship.