On Monday, the longest campaign in modern history will come to a close and if current polls are any indication, Canada may be seeing a change in government after 9 years of Conservative rule under the leadership of Stephen Harper. Accountability was his calling card in 2006 and today, accountability may very well be one of the defining reasons for his departure.
In its length, in its cost and in its debate schedule, this election is unusual. The first and possibly only real debate of the campaign ended and here are the highlights of what happened.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper left Rideau Hall this morning with Governor General David Johnston’s approval to drop the writ and Canadians are now officially headed to the polls on October 19. For the first time since fixed election date legislation was brought in by the Conservative government, a fixed election date has been followed.
Smiles for the cameras. Tight Conservative polos made just for the occasion. That’s right, it’s that time of year again. It’s “Christmas in July” – where the Conservatives read your ecstatic tweets about the extra bundles of cash you just received if you are part of a happy family with children. Retroactive to January, the $3 billion payout will mean the first bundle of cash will be big: six months of $160 per kid under 6 and an extra $60 if the kid is between 7 and 17 years old. The taxpayer funded ad campaign says it all, parents with children under 6 will receive nearly $2,000 per year per child and if the child is older than 7, that amount will be $720 per year per child. Everyone should rejoice, Harper’s Conservatives have pulled off a miracle for Canadian families and everyone will benefit from their improved Universal Child Care Benefit. Wait a minute. Cut the cameras, take off the polo and rewind the tape. Does that sound a bit rosy to you?
A disgraceful attempt to attack Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau yet again shows the questionable judgement of Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party. Controversial Bill C-51 has now become law and gives CSIS new powers to spy on individual Canadians and revoke terrorist propaganda. However, the Conservatives have decided in a pre-electoral ad to use ISIS propaganda as a backdrop to smear Trudeau.
On January 24, 2006, Stephen Harper won his first mandate on the promise of making Ottawa accountable. Nine years and countless scandals later, accountability is back in the spotlight and the tables have turned.
Stephen Harper’s Conservatives recently passed Bill C-51. You’ve probably heard about it but if not, here’s the summary. It grants Canada’s spy agencies new enforcement powers to act upon data they’ve collected by monitoring your phone calls, text messages and your interactions on social media. The reason for this is they want to protect you from a terrorist attack – or arrest you if they suspect you are a terrorist. It would dismantle much of Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms which was ratified by former Prime Minister Pierre-Elliot Trudeau and grants Canadians the privacy and freedom of speech they have today.
Conservative Finance Minister Joe Oliver delivered his first surplus budget to paint a rosy picture for the upcoming election. With a $1.4 billion surplus this year, and steadily growing over the next four, there is now room for new spending programs – or so it seems. The Conservatives have managed to create a budgetary illusion and with balanced budget legislation to take place in addition, it is time we look closer at the numbers. The surplus looks great on paper, but just how great is it?