The Political Parties

On October 21st Canadians will have the chance to vote for the political party of their choice.  But sometimes it can be confusing to sort through the detailed platforms of each party and figure out what their core values are.  So here’s a brief summary that might help you self-analyze where your personal political leanings lie.

The Liberal Party

            Following the election in 2015, the Liberals held the most seats in Parliament and, as such, were given the right to govern the country.  The Liberal Party is one of the two original political parties dating back to Confederation in 1867.  Back then its values were rooted in classic 17th C. liberalism which included support for individual freedom, limited government, and a free market economy.  At that time, those concepts were in sharp contrast to a world that was dominated by absolute monarchs, a hereditary elite ruling class, and a monopolistic economy.

Over the past 150 years, though, the Liberal Party has changed dramatically so that today they have evolved into one that now advocates for a much more active management of society and the economy.  This means governing with a “hands on” approach to everything ranging from social issues, federal/provincial relations, and private enterprise.  Naturally there is an inherent financial cost to such an active role in all these facets of daily life.  As a result, frequently Liberal governments have had to either raise taxes or sustain large deficits to pay for their numerous programs.

The Liberal Party has also been very proactive in the protection of individual rights and freedoms.  Undoubtedly much good has come from this over the years, although recently it has led to concerns among average Canadians that the rights of the minority might be taking priority over the rights of the majority.  Laws that have been enshrined in our judicial system for years are now being rewritten to accommodate the wishes of a wide range of individuals.  And under our current Liberal government, traditional values have been viewed as seriously out of step with contemporary society.

The Conservative Party 

            The Conservative Party, currently holding the second largest number of seats in Parliament, is known as the official opposition.  Their job is to hold the government accountable for their actions to ensure that all Canadians are being fairly represented.  Like the Liberals, they too go back to Confederation.  In fact our very first Prime Minister, John A. MacDonald, was the leader of the Conservative Party.

            Much as its name implies, the Conservative Party tends to value the traditions of our nation and to maintain a historical connection to what has worked for us in the past.  Ironically, as the Liberal Party has moved further away from its founding principles, the Conservative Party has tended to embrace those.  Conservatives believe in “small government” and that the free market economy functions relatively well with limited interference from politicians.  They believe strongly in giving individuals the freedom to succeed on their own without relying on extensive social safety nets.  Consequently with less government action needed, the result is often lower taxes and balanced budgets.

            In keeping with their value of tradition, they put a strong emphasis on maintaining law and order.  So although they support individual rights and freedom, they do so within the boundaries of existing laws in order to avoid an anarchistic clash of values within society.

The New Democratic Party (NDP)       

            The New Democratic Party was founded in 1961 to unite those with political leanings towards social democracy.  Although never forming the government, the NDP has consistently been an influential force in Canadian politics.

            Their socialist values emphasize strong government control in the interest of “leveling the playing field” for all Canadians.  They believe it is the government’s role to distribute wealth in an equitable way so that everyone is cared for equally.  They see free enterprise as a tool to create wealth that in turn can be taxed and used by the government to care for those less fortunate.  The end result of this overly active role is frequently very high taxes or very high deficits.

            The NDP garner much of their support from organized labour and trade unions.

The Green Party

            The Green Party is the “new kid on the block” dating back to 1983.  They are aptly named as their chief goal is to keep Canada “green” by advocating for a proactive environmental policy. 

            Although the smallest of the four traditional political parties, the Greens have been gaining momentum in recent years.  As climate change and the environment have become key concerns for Canadians, the Green Party has been at the forefront of addressing these issues.  Unfortunately, because they were founded with this one goal in mind and because they have never been serious contenders to form government, we have yet to discover what their other policies would be in relation to issues like the economy, foreign policy, immigration, or social issues.

 

So that’s the outline of each major political party in a nutshell.  Admittedly my summaries come with some very broad generalizations – and there are always exceptions to the rules.  If you wish to delve deeper into what each party stands for, though, I would encourage you to visit their websites.  It is in every Canadian’s interest that all of us cast our ballot this fall as informed voters, understanding the issues and what is at stake.  And hopefully these posts will assist you in that process. 

Holden Bowker,

Richmond Centre Conservative Association

(Photo Source: https://www.colinbennett.ca/parties-and-privacy/federal-political-parties-and-privacy-protection/)

Alice Wong