Friday, January 20, 2006

The Election As I See It

Americans who always point to Canada as a bastion of liberal and progressive values may have to choose another example - on Tuesday, Jan 24, we could wake up to a different kind of Canada. I encourage everyone to vote, not because it's cool (it's not), but everyone does what's cool, so maybe you should do what is not cool to be cool. OK, that doesn't make too much sense, but here is how I see the issues:

Muslim Issues: Americans may be surprised to know we Canadians have less personal rights than Americans (in theory). The government can pick a Canadian off the street and lock him up for years without a trial under what is known as the 'Security Certificate'. This is a violation of civil liberties that increasingly, and unfairly, targets Muslims. The Conservatives have promised to review the issue, and change it from being decided by a minister to being decided by a panel of judges. The Liberals don't care about the issue. The NDP is the only party that has promised to cancel the ATA and the 'Security Certificates'. There are laws already in place that can be used to provide security for Canadians and protect civil liberties.

Foreign Credentials: Canada poaches off the world for its intellectuals and lets only the best immigrate here. This fails, however, as most professionals find that their degrees are not recognized here and they would have to start from way below on the ladder. All three parties have recognized this issue. The NDP has raised it prominently in their campaigns and stated they would tell immigrants from upfront what their struggles will be like. The Conservatives have promised a national agency to evaluate foreign credentials. The Liberals have offered no plans.

Immigration: This is one area the Liberals shine. They have followed through on multiculturalism and Canada has the most diverse set of immigrants in the world. Letting only the skilled ones in have ensured immigrants here are of the best kind, who want to make life better for themselves and contribute positively to the community. Recently the Liberals have also made it easier for grandparents to come in, and allow international students to work while studying and settle in Canada afterwards. The NDP follow a similar ideology to the Liberals. The Conservatives have not said much about immigration in their campaign, but from past statements and their ads linking crime and immigration, it seems to me that they look at immigrants with a distrustful eye. In my opinion they would restrict immigration and reunion of families.

Foreign Affairs: Under the NDP, Canada would pursue a balanced and middle road in foreign affairs. They have criticized GW Bush immensely, and would respect international organizations like UN. The Liberals say they will do the same, however under Martin, the Liberals have moved a bit to the right. They support Israel's actions in the UN, sent troops to Haiti to remove a ruler, and committed troops to Afghanistan without Parliamentary review (to be clear Canada needs to be there, but it should have Parliament's approval). The Conservatives would join any foreign military affair the Americans would undertake. They would have been in Iraq.

Same sex and minority rights: The NDP is for minority rights. The Liberals are mostly for, but few of them (such as Tom Wappel and the Sikh Liberals in GTA) are very socially conservative. The Conservatives seem to base such issues as 'morality', and look to their religious values for guidance. As such, they would be against SSM, and some of them have in the past spoken out against abortion.

Environment: The NDP seems to have the most pro-environment agenda of the three. They would respect Kyoto and last election the Sierra club chose their platform over the Green party. The Liberals have signed the Kyoto treaty but our emissions have risen (greater than USA) and we have had numerous 'boil-water' advisories in rural communities. The Conservatives follow the Republicans in denouncing Kyoto, but have no effectual ideas of their own.

Tax & Economy: The Liberals have the best tax plan of all. They have cut income taxes already, and have promised to cut it further. However they have enough to commit to surpluses and pay down the debt. The economy under the Liberals for the last 12 years have been the best amongst the G7, and we have not had a depression. Unemployment is at its lowest. The NDP has stated they would not favour tax hikes but would not cut them either. The Conservatives have promised to raise income taxes. They would cut GST and give a host of other tax cuts, but there is fear that it would lead to US-style deficits. I don't see their GST benefiting poor people as they get GST rebates anyways. To me, it appears their policies are designed to improve the rich.

Crime: A surprise here, the socialist NDP has actually promised a tough-on-crime platform. However they will also continue social programs to prevent crime. It appears to me the Liberals do not want to acknowledge crime exists, instead pointing to exclusion (when the gunmen left in a BMW). Conservatives have a tough-on-crime attitude as well (and most likely to deliver), but they appear to ignore social programs.

I would encourage all Canadians to study the issues, ignore the media commentary and soundbites, and vote accordingly on Monday. Each vote literally counts in Canada, as the party you vote for gets $1.75 per vote for its funds. If you don't vote, you let others speak for you.

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9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Well well summarized and scripted.
What you say is very true about each and every party on crucial issues affecting us as Muslims and as plain social citizens of the country.

We all know that the Liberals and Conservatives are going to be battling neck-to-neck on Jan 23rd once the polls close. Even though for Muslims across Canada, the NDP party's bandwagon seems to be the appropriate one to be hopping on; we know that the Liberals and the Conservatives have taken the media attention all along and even if you ask any passerby on the street who he/she is gonna vote for, they would pick either the Liberals or the Conservatives (coz they think since they have been popular lately in the media's eyes, they are the party everyone should probably be voting and hence, I should also cast my vote). Truth is, about 25% of the people who cast vote dont even know anything about these parties...they just go to the polling stations to go fill out a form by closing their eyes and doing a little "EE NEE MEE NEE MIII NEE MO" on the candidates standing in their riding.

While NDP have tackled very brilliantly on some socio-economic issues concerning Muslims in particular, it remains to be seen if they would live up to their promises, if elected. Even though my vote in the elections will go out to NDP, Canada facing a NDP ruling government is far from reality!!

But its us who can make a difference and get the right party on the right seat. Just like some people were sick of seeing the LA Lakers representing in the NBA finals for some consecutive years few yrs ago, some of us are tired of seeing one party dominate for some consecutive years...Its time for a change and on Jan 23rd, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!!!

Dont just go and vote for someone coz everyone else is voting for him. Make yourself aware of the party values, what they stand for, what they promise to do, what their intentions seem to be and lastly, HOW IT AFFECTS YOU if they come into power before pencilling in on a candidate.

- Behbood

Anonymous said...

I am going to support the Liberals, but an extremely well written post. In my riding (Etobicoke-Lakeshore) its Cons. vs. Libs so voting for NDP would let the Conservatives in. If it was a three-way race or the NDP was a factor i would vote NDP. I think Martin would have been a far better PM had he had a majority.

- Farah

AT said...

NDP so far actually provided very weak policies. They are planning to invest A LOT and I mean A LOT on the social policies but where would they be getting that money from? Things like homecare for the older people are totally impossible to implement simply due to money.

Remember when NDP was in power in Ontario how they drove the province into huge debts? We needed the progressive conservatives to come and fix up the issues by cutting on educations and all other social programs.

NDP actually has a very radical leftish policy, which is not that great for Canada. Just like the radical rightwing is not good for us. Canada needs a centrist policy and other than Liberals noone is going to offer that.

Socially, I think I agree more with the conservatives than liberals except the same-sex marriage. Therefore, I was planning to vote for the Green Party, which has a conservative social policy but VERY progressive economic policy. However, I will have to end up voting for the person I really dislike....Tom Wappel! I don't want the conservatives to ruin this country with their radical policies. It will take ages for the liberals to fix up this country after they leave in 4 years. Let's just hope these conservatives end up with a minority.

mezba said...

@Behbood: Yes we need change. One party in power too long breeds incompetency.

@Farah: If you were in any other riding I would tell you to vote NDP. But you are in a riding where the Liberal candidate has spoken in favour of torture, and has lived outside Canada for 30 years and suddenly decided he wanted to come back to Canada and get power. This is usurping. Besides, the Liberal riding chief has himself renounced the candidate and urged voters to vote Conservative. I would urge you to do the same.

@Arnab: NDP has not promised any tax hikes. Their fiscal policy is committed to balanced budgets. They have said whatever the current taxation, it's fine.

Your example of Bob Rae is not correct as Bob Rae himself has renounced all ties with the current NDP. The current NDP is very fiscally conservative, near to the center and pragmatic. Besides, as soon as Bob Rae took power, he actually abandoned NDP policies and bit the hands that fed him - unions and teachers. His policies were counter to NDP platforms.

As well, current NDP's policy cannot be termed leftish, as there is very little difference between the Liberal and NDP platforms (a fact acknowledged by Martin himself). Jack Layton has been on the Toronto city council (whose budget is larger than some provinces) and he has delivered a balanced budget from the city budget committee each time, despite Mike Harris's cuts.

The Liberals have made a rash of promises, none of which is in their budget (like the 5 billion promised to aboriginals, or extra 10 billion for child care). It is time for a change of guard. With the NDP acting as a check to the minority it could end up working fine.

Let me give you some facts about Tom Wappel. He once refused to help a blind veteran just because he thought the vet did not vote for him. He is the darling of the religious fringe. Anti-choice. Anti-gay. One of the worst attendance records in the House.Family-values poster boy who's now separated from his wife after an affair with his secretary.

AT said...

Yes, even though I support the Liberals (and Green Party), I really dislike Tom Wappel but I don't have any choice. The conservatives have given a Sri Lankan candidate, Vincent from this riding. Therefore, after talking to some Tamils, I found that almost everyone is voting for conservatives to get Vincent elected. Wappel might not get an easy victory like last time.

I won't cry if Tom Wappel loses from my riding because I would rather have a conservative supporting conservative cause than a Liberal supporting conservative cause.

Hadeel said...

just make sure to vote on monday!

Nabeel said...

the security certificate is outrageous man .. i mean for years without a trial? danggggg

who do you plan to vote for?

Masti-boy said...

some cricket videos at my site..as you are another cricket fan

mezba said...

So far the policies of NDP and Liberals are good. However, for our democracy's sake I think the Liberals need a time-out.