Liberals and NDP have reached and supply and confidence agreement that will allow government to remain in office until 2025. In many ways this just formalizes what was already happening as decides degree and timing, but parties really aren’t that far apart. Below are my thoughts on it.
Unlike some Conservatives who are going bezerk over this, this agreement is totally democratic and legitimate. In our Westminster system we elect MPs and anyone who can command the confidence of the house has right to govern. Since NDP + Liberals have more than half the MPs, this is totally legitimate. As for saying Canadians didn’t vote for this, I am afraid I disagree with that. People knew full well Liberals under Trudeau are for more spending and bigger government so yes majority did vote for this. It is not what I wanted personally, but I am not going to deny this is what public wants. Whether they will still feel that way after implemented or not, is a whole different story. And in next election voters will pass judgement re-electing Liberals if happy or defeating them and voting Tories if not. So Tories need to calm down and rationally criticize it, stop shrieking.
As for plans, I believe it is quite fiscally reckless and with record deficits, high inflation, adding new programs without raising taxes to cover them is irresponsible. There is no such thing as a free lunch so people need to understand you want more programs? It absolutely can be done, but it means you are going to have pay more taxes as with life there are always trade offs. And who knows, maybe most like idea of free dental care and pharmacare and willing to pay higher taxes to cover it. But its time politicians start being honest here. This year thanks to stronger than expected growth, we should have a much lower deficit than anticipated. But rather than going on a spending binge, lets use that revenue to balance the budget sooner. I hope unlike childcare plan, enough conservative led provinces turn this down. I understand for those struggling, prescription drugs and dental care are an issue just like childcare. But I would rather we focus on those not already covered as opposed to making it universal. Dental care is means tested, but income for full coverage should be at 40K tops, not 70K. By all means a sliding scale above that. Likewise only for those who are self employed, retired, students, unemployed, or working for a small business. Those working for large companies should not get covered and instead I would rather in concert with provinces create a law requiring those companies provide all employees coverage. As we are seeing with Quebec childcare and see with our health care, just long wait times and underperformance. On the tax side, only offer is 3% surtax on banks and insurance companies which won’t come close to enough revenue they need for all three. Realistically, a 3% GST hike would be needed to cover this and if Liberals-NDP proposed that, I would actually applaud them for being realistic and not going on some fantasy. Some will say tax rich and corporations more, but reality is Canada simply doesn’t have enough rich people to fund this while for corporations they are highly mobile so rate too high, they just move elsewhere.
As for Tories, since next election is at least 3 years away, now is time to think things through and not rush. Thinking there will be a huge backlash that leads to Poilievre winning in 2025 is likely wishful thinking. Party needs to be realistic that Canada is not a right wing country and minimalist government ideas don’t have the same traction they do in the US. So they need to offer thoughtful alternatives or maybe even just tighten them with means test to help those who need it most. But just blindly opposing won’t cut it. Its also why base needs to wake up and accept harsh reality: chose a moderate and put an end to this left wing government or chose a right winger and get used to left wing governments like this for foreseeable future. Sometimes in life you cannot get what you want so you have to figure out what is closest to your ideals that is feasible. In fact I believe threat of Poilievre and trucker convoy is a big reason this happened. Often for everything there is an equal and opposite reaction and fear of a right wing populist government which scares the Hell out of both parties made them roll up their sleeves and find a way to prevent it. If Tories were more reasonable, no reason they couldn’t offer suggestions in exchange for supporting budget and maybe actually get government to move a little closer to centre. But no, they decided to play scorched earth policy and we are paying the price for it. Sure thumping your chest feels good, but time to start thinking strategically on what will actually work, not aim for staying true to ideology while being stuck in opposition and watching government drift further left.
In terms of impact on parties, below is my thoughts:
Liberals: Could go either way. If programs work and are popular, I believe will secure a majority come next election. But if economy turns south and things get worse, this may ultimately lead to their defeat. But those suggesting moving leftward will aren’t realizing the median voter today is more left wing than they were 20 years ago so policies that might have once been political suicide aren’t anymore.
Conservatives: Since not part of government, they are most likely to be the beneficiaries if things go badly. But they have to be careful as taking away programs once in place is not easy. As such right now I would suggest remain flexible and take a wait and see how things play out. Fine to set general goals and directions but realize its too early to say how this plays out. Big reason probably they went now not earlier as Liberals and NDP probably rightly figured if announced earlier, Tories would have held off leadership race until 2023 for this reason meaning better chance they would chose someone who could be a threat to them.
NDP: If your goal as an NDP is to win more seats, this is not going to work out well. If government popular, many NDP supporters will vote Liberal next time and much like 1974, lose many seats. If unpopular, NDP will get blamed for enabling it much like Liberal Democrats in UK in 2015. But if your goal is to have a more progressive Canada, I believe this may just work out. And I get impression that NDP today has given up winning and is more about how can we move country leftward and I believe they are succeeding in that.