Eager Beaver Leaders
Election day—Monday, Oct. 19—is advancing closer into view amid this round’s colourful political landscape. If you are planning to vote, be the best kind of voter you can be: an informed one. Here is a quick (but by no means comprehensive) breakdown of the four major leaders’ key commitments to Canadians:
Conservative Party – Stephen Harper: The current PM and arguably the most controversial candidate among young Canadians, Harper pledges to: reduce corporate and small business tax rates; allot $5.3 billion a year towards provincial and municipal infrastructure; support Northern Gateway and the proposed Keystone XL oil pipelines; continue supporting overseas Canadian military operations and increase the defence budget; enact tougher immigration policies; continue enforcing Bill C-51 (the bill that allows government monitoring of personal calls and emails in an effort to combat terrorism); maintain current marijuana laws; keep tuition rates aligned with economic inflation; and provide $500 million in funding to Aboriginal schools.
Liberal Party – Justin Trudeau: The Liberal leader and son of former Liberal PM Pierre Trudeau promises to: increase taxes for the richest canadians while lowering taxes for the middle class; maintain tax breaks for small businesses; run modest deficits and double federal infrastructure investment over the next decade; oppose the Northern Gateway and support the Keystone XL pipelines; increase aid for Iraqi and Syrian refugees and limit Canada’s combative military involvement in these areas; amend the strict monitoring policies of Bill C-51; restore Canada Post’s door-to-door delivery; legalize and tax marijuana; and provide educational funding to First Nations people.
NDP – Thomas Mulcair: The PM hopeful and current NDP Opposition House Leader plans to: balance the federal budget and maintain personal income tax rates; increase corporate and decrease small business tax rates; raise federal funding for Canadian infrastructure; oppose both the Northern Gateway and Keystone XL pipelines but support Energy East pipeline; completely withdraw the Canadian military from Iraq and Syria; boost foreign aid; repeal Bill C-51; reinstate door-to-door mail delivery; decriminalize marijuana; remove interest rates on student loans; and reduce poverty and educational imbalances among First Nations people.
Green Party – Elizabeth May: If the Green Party leader is voted Prime Minister, she pledges to: eliminate personal taxes on incomes less than $20,000; reduce small business tax rates; finance national rail and light rail systems; establish tuition-free education by 2020, starting with lower-income individuals; implement higher standards for green infrastructure and power generation; oppose all oil pipeline plans; reduce military defence spending; provide more affordable housing; ban unpaid internships; increase penalties for domestic violence; and provide First Nations people with the legal right to approve or deny natural resource projects on their land.
Further information on each party can be found on their official websites as well as through an incredibly helpful resource, www.canada.isidewith.com, which matches your personal opinions on relevant issues to the most well-suited federal parties, highlighting the candidates you’re most in line with. Voting is simple: if you’re a Canadian citizen who is 18 or older and can prove your identity and address with valid government documents (a driver’s license with an address, OR, for example, a Canadian passport plus a piece of mail—like a hydro bill—that lists your address), head to the Elections Canada website and register to vote. If you only live in Toronto during the school year, register with the address you consider “home” and your vote will count towards a candidate in the riding corresponding to this address. A heads-up: once registered, you can vote in advance from October 9 through 12, in case you can’t on October 19. More information, including a complete list of voting locations across Canada, can be found on the Elections Canada website. U of T students stuck on campus can easily cast their ballot at the Graduate Students’ Union’s Gym and Records Room on October 19 between 10:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. Young voices matter. Do some Googling, know your candidates and take 20 minutes on Monday, Oct. 19 to exercise your right to vote.