My Platform for the Canadian Federal Election

by Hugh

The other day, I listed & evaluated the clarity of federal party platforms, as they appear on their platform pages on their websites. I promised my own platform/priorities. Before I do that though, I think it’ worth making a comment:

Every party now is more or less committed to fiscal conservatism[ref]Testing simple footnotes.[/ref] — ie balanced budgets — whether left or right. While 20 years ago their may well have been a significant difference between how parties managed their books, these days everyone is committed to matching expenses to revenues. The Conservatives are more likely to cut taxes and spending; the Liberals and NDP are more likely to leave things as they are, but on balance, from a fiscal view, no one is going to do anything radical.

So the question really comes down to party priorities: how will a party allocate budget and focus? Which party’s priorities is likely to build Canada into a country you’d like to live in?

With that short introduction, here are my priorities:

General Statement of Governing Philosophy

Having a healthy, innovative economy gives us the ability to invest in the luxuries we expect as a wealthy country: education, health, infrastructure, arts and other things. At the same time, having a well-educated population, which doesn’t need to worry unduly about healthcare, enables us to build an innovative, and healthy economy.

So a government’s role – my government’s top priorities[ref]Testing footnote #2[/ref] – is three things:
1. to make sure there is a good environment for a healthy economy
2. to determine how much wealth from that economy should be spread to other uses (and keep books balanced in the mean time)
3. to define the priorities for the distribution of excess wealth (mine are: health & education)

My Priorities – Short Version

Economy & Innovation: Invest heavily in high-tech R&D, and simplify corporate taxes.
Healthcare: Increase funding for family doctors, nurses, and implement a national drug purchasing plan.
Education: Invest in high-tech R&D.
Environment: Implement a “starter” carbon tax, and a cap & trade system for big emitters.
Democracy: Prioritize open/accessible government data, and a yearly receipt explaining where taxes go.

My Priorities – Long Version Version

1. Economy & Innovation
Canada’s wealth is based almost entirely on the resource sector, with only a handful of major Canadian companies [RIM(!), Thompson Reuters, Bombardier] having a significant impact on rest of the world. That’s dangerous, and unhealthy, especially given the challenging economic times we live in. We need to have a broader and more innovative economy than we currently have, and putting in place the foundations for such an economy will be the top priority for my government. We will:
– invest heavily in high-tech research & development.
– target Canada to have top 3 broadband penetration in the OECD, and bring Canadian broadband, wireless & data rates in line with the most innovative economies in the world.
– simplify the corporate tax structure.

NOTE: there has to be more here, and the best and the brightest of my government will be set loose on finding good ways to encourage more innovation in the Canadian economy.

2. Health
Our health care system is a shambles, and we can’t even talk about it in any honest way. Private is verboten, which would be fine if our existing system was working, but it isn’t. We need to fix that, and we need to do it in a cost-effective way.

In the short term:
– Increase funding & national priorities for adding more doctors and nurses for primary care (family doctors).
– Implement a national drug purchasing scheme – to establish the best and most cost-effective drugs, and get bulk purchasing benefits.

Long term:
– Define specific healthcare outcomes that we want to prioritize.
– Undertake an analysis of the health care systems of France, UK, Australia, and the US, measured against our priorities.
– Craft future Canadian health system based on above (NOTE: There will be private provision of health care; there already is private provision of healthcare, it’s just that no one is allowed to talk about it honestly).

3. Education:
I’m so far out of the education system, that I have trouble figuring out what priorities ought to be here, but education sure as hell is essential for building an innovative economy. Here are a few radical statements that will contribute to our approach to the education system: educating our kids is really, really important; a great liberal arts education, coupled with many people working on the outside edge of exciting R&D, is likely to make for the most innovative outcomes; access to post-secondary education is essential, but innovation doesn’t come only from schools.

– We’ll invest heavily in high-tech R&D.
– Any suggestions?

4. Environment
Hey, remember climate change? Yeah, me too. Well, living next to the USA means we do have to be cautious about how radical we are about implementing actual reductions, but we need to get a real national policy in place, with teeth, to start cranking down emissions. We will:

– Establish some achievable emission reduction targets, to start working towards our (right now, totally out of reach) Kyoto commitments.
– Implement a carbon tax.
– Implement a cap and trade system for big emitters.
– Improve efficiency standards of cars on the Canadian road & continue a big push for energy efficiencies in Canadian homes & buildings.

5. Democracy
Given the shabby way the Harper Government has treated the Canadian institutions of democracy, it’s worth making this a priority. I will govern with a respect for the democratic traditions of Canada, and beyond that I will:
– Make open/accessible government data a priority.
– Provide every Canadian with a yearly tax receipt that explains where tax money goes.
– Propose a more open system for nominations of Supreme Court judges.
– Take a look at this Senate thing. I don’t understand what it’s for, and why the Senate can block legislation.

Some things I won’t do

* I won’t invest billions in building new prisons, unless there is clear evidence that new prisons are the most cost-effective way to meet stated crime objectives.
* I won’t prorogue parliament mid-session.
* I won’t cut federal funding for political parties.
* I’m not likely to invest $30+ billion in fighter jets.
* I won’t use the Senate to kill legislation I don’t like.