The Calgary Journal
The Calgary Journal

As the Oct. 21 federal election approaches, recent polls point to a close race between Andrew Scheer’s Conservatives and Justin Trudeau’s Liberals. Jagmeet Singh’s New Democrats are in third place and Elizabeth May’s Green Party, though in fourth, is predicted to win more votes than ever before.

In 2015, the enthusiasm for Justin Trudeau spurred young Canadians to the voting booths. But Trudeau is no longer a new face, and political science professors Duane Bratt and Lori Williams question the turnout of young voters this election.

“When people aren’t particularly inspired by what’s going on politically, they tend to stay home, and it’s harder to motivate them to come out and vote, particularly young people,” says Williams.

Whether you feel inspired or apathetic toward the parties, there are lots of essential issues that will be decided by whoever is in power. The full election platforms will be released closer to the campaign, but the environment, pharmacare, and immigration are shaping up to be critical issues.

The Environment

environement Photo courtesy of John Lee, Unsplash.

Climate change is set to be a top issue in the upcoming election. A recent study by CBC found two-thirds of Canadians believe fighting climate change is a priority. However, half of those surveyed said they would not pay more than $100 per year in taxes (the equivalent to $9 per month) to combat climate change.  

“The question is are Canadians paying too much for it under the Liberal plan,” says Williams. “On the other hand, if Canadians paid less under the Conservative plan, would that even be effective?”

According to Williams, climate change is an issue where the path to victory isn't clear for any of the parties.

The Liberals

The party’s goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 30 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. Their plan to accomplish this is with the federal carbon tax. Ninety per cent of the revenue from the carbon levy will be returned to Canadians in rebates.

The Conservatives

A climate target has not been specified, but the party promises to eliminate the carbon tax. In place of the levy, there will be a policy where companies emitting over 40 kilotonnes of greenhouse gas per year will pay into a fund for green technology.  

“It really isn’t a plan, if you break it all down,” says Bratt. “But it allows Andrew Scheer to campaign against the carbon tax, and wave around this document saying, ‘I have a plan to deal with climate change,’ and hope no one actually reads it.”

The New Democratic Party

The party is promising to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 37 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The party says it will spend $15 billion to create new jobs for workers who will be impacted by the shift to a low-carbon economy.

Williams says voters who are very concerned about the environment may look at the NDP or Green Party as alternatives.

The Green Party

The party has a goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 60 per cent below the 2005 levels by 2030. Carbon pricing will remain, along with a promise to ban fracking natural gas and create millions of jobs.

Both Bratt and Williams predict the Green Party will get more votes than in previous elections, but the question is whether these votes will translate into seats.

“Let’s say you're a voter who thinks the environment is very important,” says Williams. “You’re not clear on what the Conservative policy will accomplish, if anything. But you know the Greens will not win enough seats to form the next government. Are you going to vote for the Liberals, or are you going to bet on a minority government and the Green party holding the balance of power?”

Pharmacare

pharmacarePhoto courtesy of Simone van der Koelen, Unsplash.

According to an Ipsos poll, half of Canadians rate health care in their top three concerns that deserve focus. Three-quarters of Canadians want a universal pharmacare program in Canada, where our universal health care system would provide coverage for prescription medication.

Williams believes the topic of pharmacare may potentially be a deciding factor on how people cast their votes.

“Older Canadians, who tend to vote Conservative in higher numbers, might be persuaded to vote Liberal,” says Williams. “Simply because the Liberals have the beginning of a plan for pharmacare that looks responsible and not exorbitantly expensive.”

The Liberals

The party has proposed a universal pharmacare program.

The Conservatives

The party’s policy on pharmacare hasn’t been released.

The New Democratic Party

The NDP’s pharmacare platform says it will save families more than $500 a year, and save $4.2 billion in prescription costs across Canada.

The legislation would be based on the Canada Health Act and supply an annual pharmacare transfer to the provinces and territories. The provinces would pay around 60 per cent of the total cost, and the federal government would pay the remaining fee.

The Green Party

The Green Party says it will create a federal Crown corporation that will buy prescription medication in bulk to reduce the cost to provinces. 

Immigration

flagPhoto courtesy of Pam Menegakis, Unsplash.

According to Williams, immigration is shaping up to be a critical issue in the upcoming election.

“Depending on how that plays out, it may be a liability again for the Conservatives,” says Williams. This liability references the “barbaric cultural practice” tip line the Conservatives campaigned on in the 2015 election.

“It made them look like an intolerant party,” says Bratt. “Even though largely due to the work of Jason Kenney, they had attracted new Canadians to the party in 2008 and 2011, they lost them in 2015.”

The Liberals

The party has not released a specific proposal on immigration yet.

The Conservatives

The party is vowing to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. Under this agreement, refugees must request protection in the first safe country where they arrive. The Conservatives also want to ensure the system prioritizes individuals who face genuine persecution and they want to stop illegal border crossing at unofficial entry points. Additionally, they want to improve credential recognition and provide low-skilled workers with a way to residency and improve language training.

The New Democratic Party 

The party says it will suspend the Safe Third Country Agreement with the United States. This suspension means refugees who arrived in the United States first can legally apply and cross into Canada.

The Green Party

The party has not released a specific proposal on immigration yet.