Liberal Party sweeps U of T ridings in re-election as minority government

Results demonstrate electoral disparities, need for parties to cooperate

Liberal Party sweeps U of T ridings in re-election as  minority government

The 2019 Canadian federal election saw the Liberal Party remain in power, although it lost 27 seats compared to the 2015 elections and was reduced from a majority to a minority government.

Liberal incumbents won all three of U of T’s ridings: Chrystia Freeland for University–Rosedale, where UTSG is located; Iqra Khalid for Mississauga–Erin Mills, where UTM is located; and Gary Anadasangaree for Scarborough–Rouge Park, where UTSC is located.

For students, the Liberal Party platform promised a two-year grace period on paying off student loans, increasing the loan repayment threshold to $35,000 a year, and increasing grants by 40 per cent.

Electoral disparities

Even though the Conservative Party won fewer seats than the Liberals, it comfortably topped the popular vote at 34.4 per cent compared to the Liberals’ 33 per cent. The other big shifts occurred with the Bloc Québécois (BQ), which gained 22 seats to reach a total of 32, and the New Democratic Party, which lost 15 seats to fall to a total of 24.

The election displayed the disparity between votes and seats under the first-past-the-post voting system. While the Green Party won 6.5 per cent of the total vote, it only won three seats. Meanwhile, the BQ’s 7.7 per cent of the vote translated into 32 seats in Québec.

In 2015, the Liberals promised electoral reform to even out these disparities. The Liberals abandoned this commitment in 2017 and appear to have benefitted from that decision, as they won the election despite more Canadians voting for another party.

Leading a minority government

“I do think that the shine has come off of the Liberal brand a little bit in the last four years,” said U of T political science professor Andrew McDougall on the election outcome. “When Trudeau came in, he had sky-high expectations of doing politics differently, and he projected this sort of young, energetic leader who was going to really sort of change everything for a better progressive future. And of course, perhaps inevitably, he couldn’t live up to any of that, or even live up to a lot of that.”

Looking into the future, McDougall predicts that this government is “not going to last the full four or five years… The opposition parties are going to give the Liberals some time to govern… but they’re going to be waiting for their opportunity to bring down the government about 18 months to two years, and [hold] an election at a time that they feel is best for them.”

Unlike with their previous majority government, the Liberals will now have to gain support from the opposition parties in order to govern and pass legislation. Having rejected a coalition government with other parties, the Liberals will “have to work on an issue by issue basis with these parties on their platform. But the parties are going to have a say now in what those policies look like,” said McDougall.

Op-ed: Green Party policy is shaped by commitments to equity and sustainability

Young Greens at UTM on challenging the status quo, meaningful environmental and social change

Op-ed: Green Party policy is shaped by commitments to equity and sustainability

The federal elections are an opportunity for Canadians to shape a government that is able to make substantive changes in order to tackle the climate crisis.

The rise of movements like Fridays for the Future is a response to government inaction in regards to the climate crisis, the severity of which was brought to light by the United Nations’ (UN) 2018 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

To keep global warming levels below 1.5 degrees celsius, we must reduce our net carbon emissions to zero by 2050 — a monumental task. Avoidance is not an option if we want to achieve this goal.

The Green Party is the only party that has a plan to address climate change in a meaningful way. The Green Party would ensure emission reductions of 60 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030. The NDP does not give an official estimate, but when the math is done, it comes to around 38 per cent below 2005 levels, which is almost at the 40 per cent requirement if we want to be on track to hit net zero by 2050. The Conservatives and Liberals both have the same target of 30 per cent below 2005 levels. However, the Conservatives have little chance of reaching these levels with their current policy proposals.

A strong environmental platform is not the only reason to consider voting Green. The Greens have a plan for pretty much anything you can think of. Here are a few reasons I decided to get involved and start the Young Greens at UTM.

Access to education is still impeded by the price of postsecondary education. The financial burden of accumulating student debt affects postsecondary academic choices, but it does not have to be this way. Elizabeth May and the Green Party would work toward solving this problem by eliminating tuition fees for Canadian students and forgiving federal student debt.

A national pharma care plan is an essential part of any health care system. Being unable to afford medication leads to hundreds of preventable deaths each year. Last year over 700,000 Canadians borrowed money to cover their prescription drug costs.

Not only would national pharma care lift a burden off numerous families in Canada, but it could also save the government money. By renegotiating and using our combined buying power as a country, we can obtain medication at a fraction of its current cost.

As a settler-colonial state, Canada has a lot to dismantle regarding the colonial policies and structures which remain present in policy, infrastructure, education, and amongst many inadequate social systems. With legislation such as the Indian Act, geographic barriers to education, access to clean water, inadequate housing and higher incarceration rates, working toward truth and reconciliation is an effort that must continue in earnest.

The Green Party of Canada would re-introduce legislation to embed the UN Declaration of Indigenous Rights into the law. The party plans to work in partnership with First Nations groups to dismantle the Indian Act by establishing self-governance — but only with freely given and informed consent. Bringing an end to boil water advisories, and respecting court’s rulings on matters such as compensation due to child welfare disparities are key aspects of the Greens’ vision and understanding of reconciliation.

The Green Party will redirect funding for these social projects by closing loopholes that allow Canadians to operate offshore bank accounts in tax havens. In addition, we the Greens will ask virtual giants like Netflix and Amazon to pay their fair share of taxes, and will end fossil fuel subsidies and corporate tax breaks. There are means of funding available; it’s just a matter of where we direct it.

In the fight against climate change, the transition to a green economy is essential. This plan must include everyone, from First Nations peoples to oil and gas workers. Canada’s economy must adopt fair and sustainable practices. Transitioning our economy toward sustainable energy must take into consideration workers who will be affected by these job changes. The Green Party hopes to work closely to create jobs in the renewable energy sector and to help workers transition into these new roles.

Young voters make up the largest voting bloc in Canada. If you do not know where to start, CBC’s Vote Compass gives a good overview of the party platforms. There, you can take a quiz that aligns your beliefs with the party that most closely shares your positions. To check for your voter registration status, consult the Elections Canada website.

Our future, whatever you want it to look like, depends heavily on the outcome of this election. We have 11 years to take meaningful action on climate change and for that to happen, we must implement measures immediately. No other party is as dedicated to confronting the climate crisis as we are. Students, voters, keep this in mind when you cast your vote. The Greens are not afraid to make unprecedented strides toward meaningful change.

Katya Godwin is a first-year Life Sciences student at UTM. She is the president of the Young Greens at UTM.

The Varsity endorses a Liberal minority government — with an NDP-Green balance of power

A progressive partnership will best serve students, youth, democracy

<i>The Varsity</i> endorses a Liberal minority government — with an NDP-Green balance of power

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.

UTSU hosts environmental debate for University–Rosedale MP candidates

Chrystia Freeland, Tim Grant, Melissa Jean-Baptiste Vajda discuss climate, other issues

UTSU hosts environmental debate for University–Rosedale MP candidates

Content warning: mention of suicide.

The University of Toronto Students’ Union held an all-candidates debate for University–Rosedale MP candidates focused on the environment on October 3. The debate was a part of the 100 Debates on the Environment, a non-partisan initiative which aims to organize environmentally-oriented debates ahead of the federal election.

Liberal candidate and incumbent MP Chrystia Freeland, New Democratic Party (NDP) candidate Melissa Jean-Baptise Vajda, and Green Party candidate Tim Grant were present. Conservative candidate Helen-Claire Tingling was unable to attend due to illness.

Tensions over climate crisis

As part of the 100 Debates on the Environment initiative, the candidates were asked four questions on the environment which covered greenhouse gas emissions, water, wilderness conservation, and pollution.

All candidates agreed that party leaders should work to move beyond addressing the climate crisis as a partisan issue. They also found common ground in wilderness conservation, agreeing that Canada needs to move toward protecting a higher percentage of water and land. All agreed to protect 30 per cent of land, ocean, and fresh water by 2030. 

The Liberal Party’s environmental plan includes planting two billion trees by 2030, reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, and banning single-use plastics. However, the incumbent Liberal government received criticism from the other two candidates for inadequate environmental action made under Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. “We have about 10 or 11 years to reach our [environmental] targets. Right now, the Liberal government has put us 200 years behind that,” said Vajda.

“All three of the major parties support one or more pipelines across Canada,” said Grant. “We are the only party that can’t offer you a pipeline in this election.”

Responding to criticisms about the pipeline, Freeland said, “I think that decision was probably one of the most difficult for our government to make,” adding: “we recognize that we have to find a policy in which the environment and the economy can go together.”

Vajda said, “We are committed to moving away from relying on pipelines, [and] we aren’t in favor of expanding any pipelines.”

Regarding the Green Party’s environmental plan budget, Vajda said, “Their budget doesn’t even add up. Their numbers do not work.” 

The Green Party’s environmental plan includes more regulation on industrial farming, increasing funding to implement endangered species recovery, and restoring the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.

Education and housing

Both the Green Party and the NDP want to move toward a free postsecondary tuition framework, while the Liberal plan involves a two-year interest-free grace period for loan repayment.

In response to both a question about education and youth unemployment, Grant advocated for a  basic income, saying, “[it] is going to be a huge benefit to students across the country.”

To combat the housing crisis, the NDP wants to build 500,000 rental units across Canada and impose a 15 per cent buyers tax on non-Canadians and non-permanent residents. The Liberal Party would impose a one per cent tax on vacant properties owned by non-Canadians who do not reside in Canada.

“We are the only party that would not offer a first-time homeowner’s grant,” said Grant. “We think rental housing, social housing, co-op housing in particular is the critical need and that’s where all the federal resources should go.”

Both the NDP and Liberals are committed to a $15 minimum wage on all federally-managed jobs, and the NDP wants to move further to a $20 “liveable wage.” In addition, the NDP wants to ban unpaid internships, as “young people shouldn’t be taken advantage of.” Freeland also wants to create 60,000 more co-op jobs for students, and implement a “right to disconnect” for employees, which will allow them to ignore work-related tasks outside of their work hours.

Health care and mental health

When addressing student mental health, Freeland acknowledged, “I am very aware of the extreme pressures on your generation, on students across Canada, and on students at the U of T.” The Liberal plan will invest $66 billion over four years into mental health, primary care, and in-home supportive care.

“The New Democrats will establish a national suicide prevention action plan that will take this very seriously… it is part of our universal health care plan,” said Vajda, responding to the same question about mental health.

Grant criticized the NDP’s implementation of its pharma care plan by 2020 as being unrealistic. The Green Party’s pharma care plan “is vastly more expensive for two years,” said Grant, meaning that the Green Party would pay the provincial share for two years before shifting the responsibility back to the provincial government.

Concluding the debate, Freeland said, “I leave this conversation very optimistic about our country,” while Vajda responded, “I have a little bit more of a sense of urgency here. I am running for office because I feel we need a change right now.” In their closing remarks both Vajda and Grant criticized the Liberal government for failure to implement electoral reform since the previous election.

Climate crisis sparks tension at UTSC federal candidate’s debate

SCSU organizes debate for candidates in the federal riding of Scarborough–Rouge Park

Climate crisis sparks tension at UTSC federal candidate’s debate

Five candidates vying for the MP position for Scarborough–Rouge Park, the riding in which UTSC is located, came together on October 1 to debate before the federal election. Organized by the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU), the debate was attended by a mixture of UTSC students and local community members.

The candidates included Bobby Singh from the Conservative Party, Jessica Hamilton from the Green Party, the incumbent candidate Gary Anandasangaree from the Liberal Party, Kingsley Kwok from the New Democratic Party (NDP), and Dilano Sally from the People’s Party of Canada (PPC).

The climate crisis

The Liberal, NDP, and Green Party candidates all indicated that addressing the climate crisis would be their top priority should they win the election, and furthermore that their parties would each approach the issue with a carbon tax.

Liberal candidate Anandasangaree said, “if we fail on climate change [then] nothing else really does matter.” However, he also faced criticism from both the Green and NDP candidates over the Liberal’s $4.5 billion purchase of the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Hamilton commented: “[you] had four years to do whatever you wanted with your majority government and you still bought a pipeline.”

Anandasangaree justified the pipeline as a “necessary [evil]… in order [for] the economy [to be] able to sustain itself while we transform into a clean carbon economy.”

Conservative candidate Singh said that the “carbon tax is unfairly penalizing companies locally.” He suggested, rather, that carbon absorption would be a better option to address the climate crisis.

The PPC candidate, Sally, falsely said that “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant… [and] global warming has not increased natural disasters.” According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, at least 97 per cent of publishing scientists agree that the climate crisis is caused by human activities. Carbon dioxide is a pollutant that has concentrated significantly in the atmosphere over the last century due to the burning of fossil fuels, and increased heat waves and stronger hurricanes will result from the climate crisis.

Sally also noted that he does not believe in the climate crisis and cited evidence from an article in Talouselämä, a Finnish magazine, that features World Meteorological Organization Secretary-General Petteri Taalas. Sally’s remarks prompted a strong condemnation from Anandasangaree, who said “your denial is just unacceptable.”

As per the Talouselämä article that Sally referenced, Taalas released a statement on September 12 that expressed that such a reading “is a selective interpretation of my words and my longstanding views…[and] it is highly important that we rein in greenhouse gas emissions.”

Budget

The Greens, Conservatives, and the PPC all plan to balance the budget, rather than run a deficit.

NDP candidate Kwok emphasized that with regards to the budget, the NDP “are for fair taxation.” Kwok continued that as part of their New Deal for the People they “just want the super rich to pay a little more” in order to prevent cuts to government programs.

Anandasangaree noted that the Liberals “do believe in running honest deficits.” However, he justified the policy, saying they carry a positive impact because they are investing in people and infrastructure.

When faced with criticism from Singh for the government’s failure to balance the budget, Anandasangaree responded by noting that the Conservative Party has not released a full, costed platform, saying that “I’m willing to defend our record, but at the same time, I do want to see a plan [from the Conservatives] that I can also scrutinize.”

Op-ed: UTSC NDP — let’s aim higher

It’s time to push forward on climate, student debt, economic equality

Op-ed:  UTSC NDP —  let’s aim higher

In the coming weeks, Canadian students will have the opportunity to help elect a government that will best serve their interests. Those interests? The cost of education, the impending effects of the climate crisis, and affordable housing, just to name a few.

Over the past few decades, Liberal and Conservative governments have not done enough to address these issues for Canada’s youth. It’s up to us now to start a movement, created by us but represented federally by Jagmeet Singh and the New Democratic Party (NDP), to enact real change on these issues and shape a bright future for young Canadians.

Earlier this year, the Ford government made sweeping changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) that bit hard into the financial security of many students. Federal Conservatives have shown a disdain for universities, and one can only imagine they will “find efficiencies” the same way the Ontario government did — putting money back in the wallets of the wealthy, while cutting into social services that average Canadians rely on.

Liberal and Conservative governments have passed as tuition costs have skyrocketed — why? Since 1990, the federal government’s share of university funding has fallen by nearly 50 per cent, and tuition costs have easily outpaced inflation.

In 2018, Canadian students owed $28 billion in student debt, with $19 billion owed to the federal government. A survey completed in 2015 of 18,000 graduating university students showed that the average indebted student owed more than $26,000 in student debt.

Young Canadians should not have to begin their adult lives drowning in debt that can take years to pay off, in addition to its tremendous toll on mental health. Instead, young Canadians should be able to put that money back into the economy, and back into their wallets. A New Democrat government wants to bring to the federal level what five provinces have already decided to do — an elimination of interest on student loans.

in 2015… the average indebted student owed more than $26,000 in student debt

Canadians are also worried about the climate – as everyone around the world should be. Millions of people globally have participated in climate strikes in September alone, and it’s time Canadian voices are represented by a party willing to act on climate change. The Liberals have talked a big game on the climate crisis but have pathetically failed to create any meaningful change. The so-called ‘progressive’ Trudeau government declared a “climate emergency” one day, and approved expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline the very next.

Meanwhile, the Conservative plan for climate change is projected to miss its 2015 Paris Climate Agreement targets by a margin even worse than under current Liberal policy. The status quo means catastrophe — just one taste of this is the danger facing low-lying coastal areas, home to millions of people, due to rising sea levels.

The climate crisis cannot just be tackled by individual action, nor by ‘market-based’ reforms. To avoid this catastrophe, the world needs bold leadership on climate issues, and for Canadians, a New Democrat government would push this leadership forward and confront the largest emitters — big corporations.

The NDP have not only committed to a day-one elimination of fossil fuel subsidies, but A New Deal For People would support communities across the country by creating 300,000 jobs through re-investment into carbon-free energy sources. Canadians need a better way to get around — our cities and infrastructure are car-centric and it’s time to evolve cities through cheaper, cleaner and more convenient public transit.

‘How are we going to pay for it?’ is the inevitable question that accompanies any proposal to strengthen social services that benefit ordinary people. Part of the NDP’s answer is a super-wealth tax. According to the parliamentary budget officer, the policy would apply a one per cent tax to assets worth more than $20 million, raising nearly $70 billion over the next ten years.

the world needs bold leadership on climate issues, and for Canadians, a New Democrat government would push this leadership forward

The tax would only apply to the top one tenth of the one per cent of Canada, generating abundant revenue to fulfill the monetary requirements of other NDP policies. Hence, the NDP’s platform on taxes is the vanguard of necessary social reform, which posits tackling the strenuous issues of economic inequality and tax fairness.

The revenue generated from this tax would be necessary and practical in fulfilling platforms such as universal pharma care and publicly funded dental, mental, and vision care.

Inequality is a growing issue for Canadians — 87 of the richest families own the same wealth as the 12 million poorest Canadians. Inequality burdens society by rupturing and weakening the social fabric that allows liberal democracies to progress; the byproducts of inequality include reduced life expectancy, lower economic growth, and poorer quality social services.

In Canada, the issue of wealth inequality can be blamed on the abundant loopholes in the tax system — regularly exploited by the wealthy to escape paying the defined tax rates. For example, money made through stocks or real estate recieves a half-off on taxes, and money made from corporate dividends rewards a tax break.

The NDP proposes to seriously reform the shallow tax system, not just through the super-wealth tax, but through other reforms, including increasing the corporate tax rate from 15–18 per cent and bumping the top income tax rate for those making over $210,000, by two per cent.

If we vote for a fake progressive, what we’ll get is a fake progressive. The disease of corporate influence plagues both parties.

Additionally, closing tax loopholes such as the CEO stock option deduction strengthens the tax system, and creates a healthy, productive, and just economic landscape by enforcing tax fairness.

Thus, the NDP platform on tax reform is distinct in its character from other parties’ policies towards the same; the NDP champions economic justice to a dysfunctional and hollow tax system which fails to mitigate the challenges of inequality. Voting NDP means changing this and constructing a more just society for all Canadian, and setting a popular fiscal precedent in tax reform.

Finally, we realize many young Canadians are thinking about strategic voting. Some of our peers understandably seek to avoid an Andrew Scheer government, and are willing to put aside their dissatisfaction with Trudeau’s Liberals toward that end. I heard a classmate ask, “are we going to let Trudeau’s blackface scandal be the reason Scheer wins?”

To these concerned students we say — let’s aim higher. The failures of the Trudeau government will be to blame should they lose. If we vote for a fake progressive, what we’ll get is a fake progressive. The disease of corporate influence plagues both parties. Instead, let’s make actual progress.

Firaz Alvarez is a third-year Political Science and International Development Studies student at UTSC and the New Democratic Students of Scarborough External Co-Director. Shehryar Shaukat is a fourth-year Political Science student at UTSC and the New Democratic Students of Scarborough Communications Director.

Federal government announces $2.4 million investment in women’s organizations

Endowment to be distributed to five organizations to advance gender equality

Federal government announces $2.4 million investment in women’s organizations

The federal government will be donating a $2.4 million endowment to support five women’s organizations in the Davenport neighbourhood, as a part of the Department for Women and Gender Equality’s Capacity-building Fund.

Davenport MP Julie Dzerowicz, who presented the investment on May 3 on behalf of the Minister for Women and Gender Equality, said that its aims are to “help [women’s] organizations attract and retain talented leaders, to digitize critical data, to improve fundraising, and to ultimately support long-term planning through the availability of sustainable and predictable financial support.”

The press conference was hosted at Sistering, a drop-in centre for homeless or precariously housed women, which is set to receive $203,270 over five years as a part of the endowment.

Other organizations that will receive funding include the Dandelion Initiative, a project run by survivors of sexual assault and violence to tackle gender-based violence; South Asian Women’s Centre (SAWC), which aims to assist South Asian women in increasing their economic, social, and political status; Working Women Community Centre (WWCC), which provides recently immigrated women with employment counselling; and COSTI Immigrant Services, an agency which assists immigrant communities with employment, settlement, educational, and social services. They will respectively receive $740,960, $230,457, $247,598, and $980,000.

Creating “a level playing field”

Speaking on the reasoning for the investment, Dzerowicz said that it aimed to create “long-term, systemic change to ensure progress continues and women advance.”

The particular organizations were chosen for their commitment to assisting women with diverse challenges and for furthering a “strong, viable, and inclusive women’s movement.” Ultimately, Dzerowicz says that the government hopes to help create a “level playing field for everyone.”

The Dandelion Initiative will use the funds it receives to develop its “Safer Spaces Ontario: Strengthening Survivor Centric Work” project. Viktoria Belle, the Executive Director and Founder of the initiative, said at the press conference that the investment “comes at a time when we have a great need to expand and strengthen our network of support for survivors.”

Sistering’s project is expected to help address the unique challenges that homeless and transient women in Toronto face by supporting the hiring of new staff and expanding its support network and services.

The SAWC’s project aims to strengthen its long-term structure and sustainability through strategic planning and communication strategies. Kripa Sekhar, the Executive Director of the centre, said that the funding will “definitely improve the lives of women because more people will know about what we do, and enhance our ability to envision what the future’s going to look like.” This is the first time the centre has received federal funding.

The WWCC’s grant will help expand its support network for newcomer women from Portugal, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Africa. The funding will help further the WWCC’s work in helping women with language instruction, housing, and job training. Marcie Ponte, the Executive Director, expects the investment to “make a difference in the lives of many women throughout the Greater Toronto Area.”

The largest investment, nearing $1 million, goes to COSTI’s project. With the funding, Executive Director Mario Calla hopes to enhance their ability to identify and fill service gaps for diverse women who are experiencing gender-based violence.

U of T alum David Lametti new Attorney General in cabinet shuffle

Lametti replaces Jody Wilson-Raybould

U of T alum David Lametti new Attorney General in cabinet shuffle

In the latest cabinet shake-up on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau named Montréal MP and University of Toronto alum David Lametti as Attorney General and Minister of Justice, replacing Jody Wilson-Raybould.

Lametti, who graduated from U of T with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science in 1985, was promoted from his role as Parliamentary Secretary to Navdeep Bains, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development.

Wilson-Raybould, the first Indigenous person and third woman to hold the position, was moved to a different portfolio as Minister of Veterans Affairs and Associate Minister of National Defence.

The shake-up is the last one expected before the federal elections in fall 2019.

Lametti is a former law professor at McGill University. He has represented the riding of LaSalle—Émard—Verdun since 2015.