- They are, broadly and generally, satisfied with the way he has tried to help Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic ~ mainly by by spending lots and lots of borrowed money; and
- They are not inclined to change horses in mid-stream.
But, I said, Canadians are worried by the massive debt that Justin Trudeau is running up and they do not trust him or the Liberal Party to manage the country’s economy. On balance I said that they would still be likely to elect him again in 2021, but the latest polling suggests that the Conservative and Liberal parties are close to being in a statistical tie and it appears neither could win a majority. I said, about a week ago, that we could, conceivably end up with a “perfectly” hung parliament in which the the major parties are tied and the separatist Bloc Québécois holds the keys to power:
Now, in my opinion, doing a deal with the Bloq just to hold on to (or to gain) power is unacceptable. The BQ wants to destroy Canada; it cannot be allowed to prop up a government. But, I suspect that a coalition ~ a government of national unity with the Conservatives ~ would be more than the Trudeau wing of the Liberal Party could bear.
With that as background, the question is: how does the CPC switch enough seats in and around Greater Vancouver and Greater Toronto to go from a 140 : 140 tie to a 170 to 110 majority. That’s 30 seats; that’s HUGE. It is also also what Canada needs.
Going back tot the most recent polls …
… the Liberals‘ weakness and, conversely, the Conservatives‘ strength lies in economics and fiscal policy. Canadians trust Conservatives on economic issues much, Much, MUCH more than they trust Liberals.
Which brings me to the point: the Conservatives must tell Canadians that they have a comprehensive and coherent plan to:
- Tame the Trudeau deficit monster;
- Create new jobs and sign new free(er) trade deals that will mean good jobs for millions of working and middle-class Canadians; and
- Reform the tax system so that most ordinary Canadians get to keep a bit more of their own money.
It sounds simple enough when you say it quickly, doesn’t it? It’s not. It will be hideously complex and we should all remember that it took
years decades for Brian Mulroney and then the Chrétien-Martin team to tame the deficit monster that Pierre Trudeau created in the 1970s.
But what Canada did ~ it wasn’t just prime ministers and finance ministers, we all paid to get the budget back in balance, where it needed to be ~ needs to be done again. “Like father, like son,” but Justin Trudeau has borrowed more and faster than his father did and, over time, over decades, again, we all have to pay all of it back, with interest, again.
The next government, even if it is a Liberal one, will have to contain spending and find ways to increase revenue without taxing working and middle-class Canadians into abject poverty. The best way to increase revenue is to “grow the economy” and, heaven knows, there are sectors of the Canadian economy that are straining at the leash, right now, ready and able to start producing and selling … but some of those sectors are being restrained by the Trudeau Liberals; it is not unfair to say that Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party of Canada are at war with Western Canadian energy and resource producers and with farmers, too. The Conservatives must promise to unshackle Canadian energy, Canadian natural resources and Canadian food and to get Canadian rather than Iranian gas into Canadians’ cars and furnaces and Canadian food onto Canadian tables and Canadian energy and resources and food to the world’s markets. When that is done, more Canadians will have better jobs and tax revenues will grow and the debt monster will be a little less frightening.
Canadians pay enough taxes.
The chart above, from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), says that we are about “average” for the (mostly European) OECD but we, Canadians, pay considerably more each year than do our American neighbours, and they just happen to be our biggest trading partners. We buy more from them and sell more to them than anyone else; they ae the “competition” and, in taxes, we are losing.
Now, some will say that an average, ordinary American has poor quality and expensive health care while Canadians enjoy (and pay for) a cheaper and better system. The OECD says that’s not quote true. Our health care costs are lower than the USA’s, but they are substantially higher than most other OECD members and our health “outcomes” are decidedly not the best.
But, Canadians pay enough taxes.
The Conservative Party of Canada should promise a thorough, top-to-bottom review of Canada’s entire tax regime with the aim of taking many, many lower income Canadians off the income tax rolls entirely.
The proposal should explain that consumption taxes, which can (should) include any carbon tax are somewhat discretionary: the less you consume and the less carbon based fuels you use the less you pay. Of course, only a tiny number of us can live (almost) tax free, but we can all change our behaviours (our consumption habits) to minimize the taxes we need to pay. Tax regimes, including consumption taxes, can be tailored to encourage specific outcomes like smoking less, buying more fuel efficient cars, using public transit or eating more locally grown food. For example, if a very stiff environmental surcharge was levied on every oil tanker that brings Arab oil to Montréal, because it pollutes the St Lawrence River,* then public pressure to not build pipelines to get Western Canadian oil to Eastern Canadian refineries would diminish, quickly. People respond to price, even the people in Montréal and Toronto; taxes and fees can change preferences.
Tax reform should aim to ensure that work, any work, even menial low paid work, is always financially “better” for anyone and everyone who is able to work than is living on social assistance. Making such a system work for all Canadians would require working with provinces who are, mostly, responsible for social programmes. That promise should aim to secure the support of the emerging and growing “blue-collar Conservative” group which is being ignored by the Liberals and the NDP.
* If tankers are a threat to the environment on the Pacific Coast then it is 100% certain that they pose an equal or greater threat in the confined waters of the St Lawrence.