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The Varsity endorses a Liberal minority government — with an NDP–Green…

IRIS DENG/THE VARSITY

Ahead of the 2015 federal election, our editorial board asked students to vote strategically for progressive candidates and kick Stephen Harper out of office. The Conservatives did not stand for students four years ago and certainly do not now.

From billions in tax cuts that would inevitably jeopardize programs and services that youth and vulnerable communities rely on; to inadequate action on the climate crisis; to tying postsecondary research grants to ‘free speech’ which we know in Ontario is a “dog whistle for far-right voters it is clear that we cannot afford another Conservative government. 

That being said, the Liberals have failed to live up to progressive expectations. They do not deserve a second majority mandate. 

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau broke his cornerstone promise on electoral reform. He broke ethical rules in the SNC-Lavalin scandal, and he expelled two women cabinet ministers from his caucus for publicly standing up against conduct. He nationalized a major oil pipeline despite Indigenous resistance. And he is challenging a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling that calls for federal compensation to First Nations children who were separated from their families by child welfare services.

We should not have to settle for another Liberal or Conservative majority that governs with a blank cheque. While the two are in a close race for first place, fortunately, neither is projected to approximate the required 170 seats for a majority. Instead, we must embrace the increasingly likely outcome of a minority government this election. 

Under this hung Parliament scenario, a dominant party would have to solicit the confidence of one or more of the smaller parties in order to govern. Although minority governments are criticized for instability and gridlock, they provide an opportunity for true democracy: parties must compromise, collaborate, and build consensus. 

We should not have to settle for another Liberal or Conservative majority that governs with a blank cheque.

Ideal for youth who want positive reform is a Liberal minority government that partners with other forward-looking national parties — namely the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Green Party. If the NDP and the Greens win enough seats to hold the balance of power in Parliament, they can hold the Liberal Party to account for its claim to progressivism and demand more action on key issues that youth care about. 

That could mean a bolder climate plan that does not contradictorily commit to oil pipelines, meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples, electoral reform, and student debt relief. 

To make this a reality, we must vote strategically once again. Vote for the Liberals if you live in a Liberal-Conservative battleground riding. Vote for the NDP, Green, or a progressive Independent candidate if they have strong support in your riding, instead of the Liberal or Conservative. Reviewing comprehensive, riding-specific polls — such as the 338Canada project — can help you make your decision. 

Youth have more power than ever this election. For the first time, voters aged 18–38 will constitute the largest voting demographic — so let’s make the most of it. Below, you can find our review of six key issues that matter to youth voters. We hope it will convince you to make a progressive choice on October 21.

Education

The cost of education is the one topic that concerns all students. An ideal education platform would ease financial burdens, especially through free tuition and student debt forgiveness. 

Parties should especially dedicate resources toward Indigenous students, who have historically seen lower educational attainment due to the many institutionalized barriers set against them.

The party that comes closest to this ideal are the Greens, who have promised to tackle all of the above. It has committed to abolishing tuition, forgiving existing federal student debt, and increasing support for Indigenous students.

The NDP promises to eliminate federal interest on student loans while working toward free tuition by capping and reducing costs in conjunction with the provinces and territories.

Instead of lowering tuition, the Liberals and Conservatives opt to use band-aid solutions, such as increasing grants and support for the Registered Education Savings Plan, respectively. While helpful, neither plans would tackle the root issue of rising costs.

Ultimately, only the Greens and NDP are addressing the rising costs of education with plans to lower overall cost and provide real relief for students.

Climate crisis

The climate crisis is our generation’s greatest challenge. In order to bring us closer to a sustainable future, we must take immediate and bold action to reduce carbon emissions in line with Canada’s Paris Accord targets. 

Given their loyalty to oil and gas development, the Conservatives naturally lack any real climate plan. They oppose the Liberals’ federal carbon tax, even though it is a centrist, market-based strategy that mainstream economists claim is an effective strategy to reduce emissions. 

However, both parties agree on building the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion (TMX). This will only amplify Canada’s emissions problem and delay the necessary transition away from fossil fuels. 

The NDP and the Greens intend to do more to tackle emissions. Both oppose the TMX and support stronger versions of the carbon tax.

The NDP is committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies and investing in the transition to renewable energy and hundreds of thousands of new, green jobs. The Greens have promised millions of green jobs and have, by far, the boldest climate strategy, which includes an end to all new fossil fuel projects. They intend to double Canada’s Paris Accord targets, which is more than any other party. 

The Liberals, NDP, and Greens all agree, to varying degrees, to incentivize or invest in zero-emission or electric vehicles and transit. 

Reconciliation

The next government must do more for meaningful reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

Conservative Andrew Scheer is the only main party leader not in support of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP), in part to move forward with his proposed energy corridor. He has expressed disagreement with the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) inquiry’s final report, which found that genocide was committed against Indigenous women and girls.

While the Liberals have plans to implement UNDRIP and have published the MMIWG inquiry’s report, the Trudeau government’s record is questionable. Despite many promises, key Liberal decisions — such as the purchase of the TMX and failure to efficiently eliminate all long-term boil water advisories — have been disappointing. 

The NDP plans to eliminate all drinking water advisories for First Nations communities and issue a taskforce on mould in reserve housing. It intends to implement UNDRIP and address systemic violence against Indigenous women and girls. 

The Green Party also plans to implement the recommendations of UNDRIP, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and the MMIWG inquiry’s report.

Health care

Given U of T’s mental health crisis, students are acutely aware of the need for institutional support. Canada boasts free doctor and hospital visits, but citizens without insurance are still largely left to pay out-of-pocket for prescriptions and other services, including psychiatric ones.  

We do not have time to wait for ‘gaps’ to be evaluated — we need a commitment to broader coverage, and we need it as soon as possible.

Many young people face challenges when paying for much-needed medications. When an estimated 700,000 Canadians skip food purchases to pay for prescriptions, the need for health care improvement is clear.  

The Conservatives have expressed a desire to dismiss pharma care plans and instead address the existing ‘gaps’ in coverage.  

Both the Liberal and NDP parties support improving pharma care, with the NDP including coverage for mental health services, dental, and vision care. The Greens plan to extend health care coverage to include universal pharma care, as well as implement dental care for low-income Canadians.

We do not have time to wait for ‘gaps’ to be evaluated — we need a commitment to broader coverage, and we need it as soon as possible.

Employment

Finding employment with decent compensation is essential for students who need to finance their education and living expenses.

In 2018, 43 per cent of minimum-wage workers were under the age of 25. Youth need the minimum wage, which varies across provinces, to compensate for their cost of living.  

Accordingly, the Liberals, NDP, and Greens have all committed to raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. A research review by the current federal government has concluded that minimum wage increases would increase job stability and reduce wage inequality. 

The Conservatives have no plans to implement a federal minimum wage.

The Liberals also promise to pass federal legislation for those employed by ride-sharing acts, as well to as establish reliable benefits for seasonal workers, which could improve the quality of life for students in these fields. The NDP and Greens also aim to ban unpaid internships if they do not count for school credit, which could better help students support their studies.

Housing

For student renters and new graduates seeking homes, affordable housing remains a major dilemma. 35 per cent of Toronto residents aged 15–29 spend over 50 per cent of their income on rent.

The NDP and Greens have both proposed the construction of new affordable housing units over the next decade, with the NDP’s plan being most ambitious at 500,000 units and the Greens at 25,000 new rental homes and 15,000 rehabilitated homes in the next decade.

The Greens have proposed changes to legislation that protect housing as a fundamental human right and amend laws that prevent Indigenous organizations from accessing Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation financing. The Liberals have proposed a number of financial incentives for retrofitting or constructing homes to meet certified zero-emission status.

The Greens and NDP have made efforts toward alleviating financial barriers for low-income buyers and renters, policies which will have direct benefits for low- and middle-income student renters and first-time home buyers. With a significantly weaker housing policy, the Liberals plan to move forward with their First-Time Home Buyer Incentive.

The Conservatives are alone in providing no means to alleviate financially-burdened low-income renters.

This election, youth have the power to choose a government that actually works for them. On October 21, make your voice heard and vote for the party that has your best interests in mind.

The Varsity’s editorial board is elected by the masthead at the beginning of each semester. For more information about the editorial policy, email editorial@thevarsity.ca.

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