The latest election polls in Canada show the governing Conservatives in the lead at about 41 % but not yet in majority territory with several blemishes breaking out over bad judgment in the appointment of senior advisors. The Liberals fortunes have improved slightly with them trending to 28 % plus while the the NDP has oscillated between 16 and 20 %. The bloc is at the 8-9 % range while the Greens hover around 5-6 %. (The latest Nanos tracking poll shows the Liberals now at 30 % and the Conservatives at 39 % and the NDP at 17%,the Greens at 4 and the Bloc at 8 %)Both the Liberals and the NDP have released significant platform details which will both attract and repel some voters. The NDP has a very interesting proposal to improve the Canadian pension system involving gradually over time increasing the payout to approaching replacement of 50% of income as compared to the current 25 %. this seems to be a good idea in principle which would involve relatively small increases in contributory payments and the elimination of certain corporate tax cuts over a period of time. As the economy recovers it is definitely an important policy idea that deserves careful study and improvement. The Liberals have released a red book style platform with a number of interesting proposals on increasing access to higher education through a four year program of annual grants to all Canadians seeking higher education, a special program dedicated to veterans that resembles the excellent post world war two program that I must say enabled my father who served in the RCAF during the war to go to university and complete a degree in pharmacy , a career path that had been denied to him during the 1930s because of the depression and his income deprived background and despite the fact that he was an honours high school graduate. They also propose scrapping the fighter jet purchase and retendering the project later in order to get a better deal on the terms of this necessary purchase.This seems sensible.
Unfortunately, I also have to say that there are strains, particularly in Michael Ignatieff’s press conference in Halifax of the old and discredited Liberal obsession with deficit cutting. Not what we need at this time. Far better to allow the growth in the economy and the return to lower unemployment to reduce the deficit to GDP ratio over time and avoiding inflicting long term pain for little or no gain. The Harper budget deficit is largely the result of the crash, subsequent recession and sensible stimulus program that has worked reasonably well so far and should be beyond deficit hysteria at this time.
So the battle continues more welcome policy debate will also continue and the electorate should be in a position to make a better informed choice come the election date.