According to the governing party, the key issues are the economy and security, both of which have been presented as matters that Canadians should be worried about unless we reelect the Conservatives. They have surprisingly little to offer with respect to these two issues, however, none of it reassuring.
We obviously need new economic policies to revive a Canadian economy that has never fully recovered from the world-wide fiscal meltdown of 2008 and has been further battered recently by the collapse of oil prices. A major impetus for growth could be the major capital expenditures that are needed to upgrade deteriorating infrastructure and to address challenges such as massive congestion in our major urban areas. We also need policies and a robust regulatory regime to manage future economic growth in ways that are least harmful to the environment. However, the Conservative mantra continues to be that that balancing the budget and cutting taxes is the route to economic prosperity. The former objective has been elusive throughout its time in office and there is little to indicate that tax cuts have stimulated the economy. Indeed, there has been criticism that the business community is sitting on some $600 billion of what former Bank of Canada Mark Carney termed “dead money.”
The Conservative Party would make us more secure by locking up more criminals longer and waging war against terrorists at home and abroad. Since crime rates have fallen for at least two decades, it is at best curious why the Conservatives continue to pursue draconian approaches to punishment that have been tried, discredited, and increasingly abandoned in the United States. It is also hard to justify the threat to our civil liberties inherent in the provisions of Bill C-51, passed in the aftermath of what the Conservatives insist were two terrorist attacks on Canadian soil. In fact, the two incidents that prompted the paranoia and regrettably resulted in the death of two Canadian soldiers were perpetrated by two “lone wolf” individuals who were mentally unstable. They were sympathetic to, but not members of, any terrorist organization.
However pertinent these and other election issues are, they pale in significance to the one that ought to be – needs to be – the central issue of this 2015 campaign (as will discussed in Part II of this blog).