I am posting twice today. I wrote my first post and then realized that this second post can't wait for Monday for obvious reasons. Read them both!
On Monday Canadians will go to the polls and elect a new government. The current Conservative government is one I hold in nothing short of contempt and I will not disguise that in the least. However, which party other than the Conservatives I will vote for is a tricky question. Today I decided to look around the internet at each party's platforms and see what they had to say about themselves and each other. Ads, discussions with other people and partisan articles can tell you a lot but there is some real value in reading exactly what each party is willing to commit to in writing.
First, the reasons I hold the Conservatives in such contempt: The primary thing that gets me is the fact that it isn't the Conservatives at all but Stephen Harper's Government. If you read the Stephen Harper's Government election platform it makes it abundantly clear. Every picture is of SH and only SH and every mention of the government does not include the phrase The Canadian Government or The Conservative Government but only Stephen Harper's Government. Stephen Harper even directed government officials to only refer to his government as the Harper Government. This is not a monarchy! Secondarily I have real issues with the way the SHG conducted itself. They got rid of the long form census in a move that can only be justified by a intense desire to rule by one man's instinct rather than informed decision making. They committed huge amounts of money to military spending that I see as entirely unnecessary. They also demonstrated total disrespect for their responsibilities and the government by proroguing parliament opportunistically multiple times and refusing to answer questions or address the press. This is all to ignore the fact that they were actually found in contempt of Parliament for their refusal to supply basic information demanded by Parliament. Stephen Harper's Government is a one man show displaying total disregard for anyone who isn't Stephen Harper.
Now with that aside I need to figure out who to vote for. Last election I voted Green because I was completely certain the Liberals would win my riding anyway and I thought that providing a little bit of momentum for the Greens was the most useful thing I could do with my vote. I didn't want them to form the government but I do think them having a say would be constructive. This time I am realistically deciding between Liberal and NDP. I find that both the Liberals and NDP have social policies that I can get behind and I don't see a huge difference between them. SHG has a big pro religion, pro guns, anti gay, tough on crime at all costs thing going on that I disagree with on all fronts but the other guys mostly all seem comparable. Given that I decided to pick a party based on the strength of their economic platform. Supply side economics as advocated by the right wing types world wide has been a total failure over the past 3 decades and has really just led to immense government deficits and not much else. If I could actually vote a party in that flat out guaranteed a debt reduction plan that would balance the budget within 2 years and pay off the debt within 20 years I would vote that party in for sure. Since I get no guarantees though I figure I will instead just look over their economic plans and vote for the party that has the most realistic plan for success.
There is a perception out there that left wing parties tax and spend their way to big deficits and right wing parties run surpluses. I don't think that is generally accurate and data from any number of countries backs that up; left wing parties tend to tax more and spend more and right wing ones tax and spend less but from what I have seen there is actually no reason to think that left wing parties actually run bigger deficits. If anything, it is the reverse both here in Canada and in the US because the right wing parties cut taxes but shift spending from social programs to the military and end up in the red.
I like their social policy changes. They would return the census and do lots of things I approve of. Their plan includes immense lists of extra spending and even tax cuts but also includes eliminating a massive deficit with no details.
I really like the NDP plan of abolishing the Senate. Appointed Senators that rubberstamp Parliament is not a useful way to run things.
I also like the fact that the NDP isn't generally running attack ads but rather promoting itself.
Good policies again. The Liberals would also return the census, as would apparently everybody since abolishing it was idiotic. The Liberals do have extra spending written in but they also have tax increases on large businesses noted and chopping military spending.
The Liberals don't have a Senate reform plan. I like the NDP plan of abolishing it and I like the SHG plan of making it an elected body less than the NDP plan but more than the status quo.
I dislike that the Liberals are running attack ads. However, the fact that SHG is running attack ads against the Liberals that include portraying Ignatieff as a "I am the only important one" sort of leader is hilarious so I am tempted to forgive them this point a little.
So overall I like the Liberal fiscal plan the best by a wide margin. It actually seems doable and acknowledges the tax increases and cutbacks that will be necessary to pay for things. I wish the Liberals had a plan for Senate reform but honestly I think that is a drastically lower priority than a sound fiscal plan. My current plan is to vote Liberal. This is good because if I think that the main thing is to get the SHG out then strategically I should vote Liberal so I can cover both my strategic voting and ideological voting with one vote. Of course my commenters often find big holes in my logic and research so maybe someone will supply a good reason why I should change my mind. They don't have much time to do it though.
Edit: Check this link out. This is a link from http://www.conservative.ca/. This is our government. How embarassing.