Article by: Saba Javed (UWC AC ’15-’17)
Though the majority of UWC students keep up with American, rather than Canadian politics, the upcoming Canadian election is one to watch. After a decade under Conservative power, the chance to see a new party in office is exciting to not only Canadians, but other members of the G7 countries, as it could drastically change Canada’s position on the world stage.
The Republican Party debate broadcasted by Fox News is a polar-opposite version of the Canadian Globe Leaders’ Debate. On the Republican stage in Cleveland Ohio, many of the responses given by the candidates were non-answers, hidden behind inspirational anecdotes about immigrant parents and middle-class upbringings. This was not the case at the ‘Globe Leaders’ Debate’ set in Alberta; the epicentre of Canada’s resource-driven economy. The theme of this debate, was the Canadian economy. This topic was specific enough for the hosts and Canadian citizens to receive structured answers and allowed the candidates a chance to delve deeper into their policies and promises.
The debate began with a question about the rapidly rising unemployment rate in Canada. It was directed toward the current Prime Minister; Stephen Harper. As the leader of a government which is pro-pipeline, he put a lot of focus on jobs within the energy sector. This is worrying for many young Canadians, as, recently the cost of oil per barrel has dropped to $44.68 USD. Though extraction alone cannot help us and Harper’s answer set a weak standard for the evening, Tom Mulcair fared worse than his lead opponent. Mulcair boasted a plan to invest in childcare and other social issues in an attempt to prove his loyalty to the middle class and the New Democratic Party’s socialist standards. Mulcair and his swaying values on the ‘balanced budget’ often contradict his party’s beliefs. It makes the average Canadian citizen wonder; would the leader of the NDP run independently, if not for the leverage that the leading opposition gives him?
Liberal party leader, Justin Trudeau leaned toward the other end of the spectrum. In stark contrast to Harper and Mulcair, he proposed a business plan involving 3 modest deficits to easier invest in the middle class and in long term infrastructure. Completely opposing to a trickle-down economy, Justin Trudeau attempted to highlight the need to increase taxes on the upper class and to lower the taxes imposed on small businesses by 2%. His attempt to use charisma to hide his party’s flawed business plan didn’t work as well as he’d hoped, and his opponents continually slammed his policies throughout the debate.
While the leaders battled it out in Calgary, Canadians across the country and around the globe each came to a simple conclusion. Justin Trudeau does not possess the same charm as his father, Pierre Trudeau* and his charisma cannot save his business plan; Stephen Harper continues to look at Alberta with optimism as a ‘pipeline half-full rather than empty’ perspective; and Mulcair sways from socialism to ‘I’m a socialist who likes cherry picking conservative business plans.’ As Canada’s strong image on the world stage deteriorates, and all three candidates possess more flaws than attributes, do we still have the chance to redeem ourselves as a country, or is it too late?
*The Canadian PM and Liberal leader from 1968-1979 and 1980-1984