Sunday, October 18, 2015

Choosing Change; Choosing the Liberals (part 2)

Tomorrow is election day. After all of the speeches, debates, ads, attacks, pivots, ups and downs, it will be time for Canadian voters to bring an end to the longest campaign in modern memory by casting their votes.

For a politics watcher like me, #elxn42 has been fascinating. Broad range of issues? Check. Compelling narratives? Check. A genuine three-horse for several weeks? Check.

And perhaps most importantly as we end the campaign we have a choice. A choice about the type of government we want. A choice in terms of both the role and the tone we expect of our government.

In part 1 of this post I laid out the choice for change as being driven by the "what" (the issues) and the "how" (the tone and approach to governing). Not surprisingly, I find myself on the side of change.

But who? In this campaign there is choice within the choice for change. At the beginning it appeared that the leader of the change movement was the #NDP and their leader Tom Mulcair. Today, on the eve of election day that position now appears to be firmly held by Justin Trudeau and the #LPC.

Now a simple answer to the "who" would be to vote for the change party which has the best chance of winning. This is the so-called strategic voting about which we have heard a great deal over the past several weeks. If change is what you want, then vote for the party most likely to unseat Stephen Harper and the #CPC.

I suspect that there a lot of people who are adopting this approach. After nearly 10 years in office this is a government - and in particular a Prime Minister - which has worn out its welcome with many, many voters.

But I can't vote that way. The issues matter too much to me. The role of government is an important question for me. I can't simply vote against someone; I need to vote for something.

When I cast my vote tomorrow it will be for the Liberal Party of Canada. Here are three reasons why.

First, the economy is more than just a balance sheet. While I have no interest in excessive deficits and unsustainable debt, I do not think government should be so dogmatic about the bottom line that it fails to invest in those things that help an economy grow and which actually make it sustainable.

Infrastructure is critical to our economic future, and Canada has an infrastructure deficit. Our ability to effectively and efficiently move people and products is constrained by this deficit.
  • Want to be a successful trading nation? You need the right infrastructure.
  • Want high quality of life for your citizens? You need the right infrastructure.
  • Want to protect the environment? You need the right infrastructure.
There is a real and important role for government to play in this space, and the Liberal Party is prepared to play this role and make these investments. These are investments which, if done properly, set Canada up for success.

Second, how the government uses the tax system matters. Everyone wants lower taxes, yes. But the current approach of boutique tax cuts does absolutely nothing except reward those who can already afford to spend. Similarly, the current system of tax credits for families is giving everyone with children money, versus focusing on those families that need it the most.

I would prefer to see the highest earners pay slightly more if the result is that the government is able to invest in lower earners - those in the middle class or trying to get there. This does absolutely nothing to help me as an individual, but I think Canada is better for it. This is where the Liberals are focused and this is why they will get my vote.

Third, tone matters.

The Liberal campaign has been positive and has tried to actually articulate a future that is more than just about getting rid of Stephen Harper. The tone of our politics needs to change and the Liberals have reflected this by running a campaign that has largely avoided negatives and fear-mongering.  

This is a campaign that speaks to what we can accomplish versus simply highlighting what we want to avoid. I need a campaign that challenges me to see a better future, and then shows me a plan as to how we might get there.

The plan may or may not work. It may need to be altered. But the point is that there is a recognition that things can change for the better. That's where good policy starts.

I am not a strategic voter.  I am not choosing the Liberals because they are leading, or because they offer the best chance of replacing the Conservatives.

I am choosing the Liberals because their vision for Canada reflects mine.


These last two posts have been more personal than my usual writing. I decided to write about what this election has meant to me as a voter, versus just a guy watching politics. When I write again it will likely be more apolitical and issues-focused. But for now it was important to just be me.

One person with one vote.

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