Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Canadian Federal Election: Conservative Party Wins Majority Seats, New Democratic Party Becomes the Opposition


Stephen Harper: Conservative Party of Canada
leader and incumbent Prime Minister

Jack Layton: New Democratic Party Leader

Michael Ignatieff: Liberal Party of Canada leader

Gilles Duceppe: Bloc Quebecois Leader

Elizabeth May: Green Party of Canada Leader
Above graphics (Toronto: April, 2011) © Joachim Romeo D'Costa

The 41st Canadian federal election was held throughout Canada on May 2, for electing members of the House of Commons – the lower house of the Parliament.

The ruling Conservative Party of Canada, headed by Stephen Harper, won 167 seats out of the total of 308 seats and became the majority party in the House of Commons.

The New Democratic Party (NDP), headed by Jack Layton, became the official opposition party for the first time in its history by winning 102 seats.

The Liberal Party of Canada, headed by Michael Ignatieff, won only 34 seats – the fewest in its history. Michael Ignatieff himself failed to get elected in his own riding. He expressed his willingness to step down when the Liberal Party leader is selected.

Bloc Quebecois, headed by Gilles Duceppe, won only four seats. This is called a ‘separatist party’ because its mandate is to separate Quebec province from the federation of Canada and make it an independent country. This election result is the worst defeat for this party because in the past it had been winning majority seats in Quebec. This time, most other seats of Quebec went to the New Democratic Party. Gilles Duceppe himself failed to win his own seat. He is resigning as the leader of his party.

The Green Party of Canada, headed by Elizabeth May, won its first and only seat this time.

When the election results were announced last night, Stephen Harper said to his supporters in Calgary: “It’s been a long campaign but now we can turn the page on the uncertainties and repeat elections of the past seven years and focus on building a great future for all of us,” reports News.

He further said: “Canadians have chosen hope, a united Canada, a strong Canada. We must be the government of all Canadians, including those that did not vote for us. We shall be faithful to the trust that you have proposed to us.”

The Conservative Party Election Promises:

  • Child Care: After balancing the budget, allow income-sharing for couples with dependent children under 18 years of age. Double Children’s Fitness Tax Credit and arts programmes.
  • Law and Order: End house arrest for violent criminals, eliminate pardons for serious criminals, impose mandatory jail time for sexual offences against children, mandatory minimum sentences for certain drug offences, including possession. Kill long-gun registry.
  • Taxes: Reduce corporate tax rate from 16.5% to 15% by 2012. Create a Hiring Credit for Small Business. Establish a Volunteer Firefighters’ Tax Credit.
  • Foreign Affairs: Purchase F-35 fighter jets. Carry on post-combat training mission in Afghanistan. Re-equip the navy with ships. To ensure the Arctic sovereignty, give the Coast Guards law-enforcement powers. Expedite deportation of foreign criminals. Create the Office of Religious Freedom to promote freedom globally. Invest in ‘Helmets to Hardhats’ programme for former military personnel. Move ahead with Canada-US Shared Vision for Perimeter Security and Economic Competitiveness.
  • Health Care: Renew Health Accord in 2014. Maintain 6% annual health-care transfer payments to provinces beyond 2014. Forgive portion of federal student loans for doctors and nurses in under-served areas. Establish $100-million Canada Brain Research Fund to help find new treatments and cures for multiple sclerosis and Alzheimer’s and like. Will respect limits on the federal spending power.
  • Seniors: Increase annual Guaranteed Income Supplement by up to $600 for single seniors and $840 for senior couples, valued at $300-million annually. Work toward a Pooled Retirement Pension Plan. Establish $2,000 Family Caregiver Tax Credit for Canadians caring for relatives at home. Amend Criminal Code to add “vulnerability due to age” as aggravating factor for sentencing.
  • Political Reform: Move toward elected Senate with term limits. Increase number of House of Commons seats allocated to B.C., Ontario and Alberta, based on population growth. End tax-payer-funded, per-vote subsidies to federal parties. Establish open government working group to ensure greater accountability and improve Access to Information system.
  • Green Policy: Extend by one year the ecoEnergy Retrofit-Homes Programme, which provides $5,000 per unit to offset cost of energy-saving improvements. Establish national conservation plan to create more national parks and restore degraded ecosystems. Provide federal loan guarantee for Lower Churchill hydroelectric project. Promote clean energy technologies in aboriginal and northern communities.
  • Immigration: Pass legislation to crack down on human smuggling. Provide loans for recent immigrants to help pay for skills training and accreditation. Protect vulnerable foreign workers – including exotic dancers – by giving immigration officers greater authority to deny work permits. Offer protection to vulnerable religious minorities through existing refugee resettlement programmes.
  • Education: Enhance Canada Student Loans programme for part-time students by doubling work exemption. Establish 30 industrial research chairs at colleges and polytechnics. Double the tax-free savings account limit to $10,000 to help parents saving for child’s post-secondary education.
  • Deficit: Eliminate deficit by 2014 to 2015 by restraining growth in programme spending and completing stimulus package.

Source: National Post (April 30, 2011)

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