Buckle in, progressives—this election is getting tight

With Scheer and Trudeau beginning their campaigns far ahead of any other party, the timeline for a third competitor to rise is rapidly closing.

Ali Taghva Montreal QC

Earlier I wrote an article discussing how important it was for Canada’s other two progressive parties to cooperate in the coming election, partially in order to keep the corrupt Trudeau government in check but also to provide Canada with another option.

With Scheer and Trudeau beginning their campaigns far ahead of any other party, the timeline for a third competitor to rise is rapidly closing – fast.

Looking at just the numbers, the Liberals and Conservative both are far ahead of the Greens and the NDP combined, with such a lead it is truly a wonder how the two alternative parties on the left plan on fighting this election, at least without some serious cooperation.

But how could these two parties work together with so little time left?

Simple, they could focus on three areas the Liberal government have left almost abandoned in the wake of their disastrous first term in office.

These three areas include:

  1. Electoral reform
  2. Climate change
  3. Job loss due to automation

In every case, the Liberals have either promised and not delivered or failed to see the problem coming.

In terms of electoral reform, the party promised big, and crashed hard, giving up on the idea when it became apparent that their preferred method to vote would not become law without at least some serious blowback from the opposition.

The decision to drop that pledge led to the single largest petition delivered to government during Trudeau’s first term, urging the Liberals to reconsider their massive political flip-flop.

The Liberals never did. This flip-flop is the perfect standing point for an NDP-Green partnership of some kind as not only does it set a clear progressive standard in contrast to the Liberals, it provides true long-term and mutually beneficial goal for both parties involved.

By moving to a cooperative system, the Green Party and the NDP ensure that they will have seats in parliament for the foreseeable future to come. They’ll also remove the bandwagon voting that has typically helped the Liberals and stripped other progressive alternatives a chance at competing.

While electoral reform could serve as a foundation to the two parties’ partnership, the Liberal government’s failure on climate change policy could be what propels them forward into the mainstream.

The Liberals promised a tax that would actually solve Canada’s carbon problem, and instead, we got a virtue-signalling machine that won’t reduce our carbon footprint enough to match Paris, without adding a second tax.

Even now going into the 2019 election, neither the Conservatives nor the Liberals have put forward targets that would satisfy most ardent progressives. Here’s the interesting thing though, according to one expert who spoke to The Tyee, both the NDP and the Green Party have better environmental policies than their counterparts, but both of their plans also have weaknesses that their respective partners could help.

“In some ways, the NDP plan is strong where the Greens’ is weaker and vice versa. The Greens are a lot clearer on the specific science-based targets. There’s nothing in the Green plan that’s really clear on what the actual mechanical steps of the just transition are other than we’re going to retrain workers. Things like a job guarantee are in my mind a critical part that’s missing from the platform,” said Cam Fenton, communications and strategy manager for 350 Canada

Hereby cooperating, they could put forward policy which aimed to solve the problems perceived by progressive voters—earning tired Liberal votes, while also putting forward the mechanisms which critiques will demand.

While Electoral Reform and Climate are sure to be important, an NDP-Green partnership in this race will need something more exciting to push it beyond the media chatter that is sure to occur as result of Trudeau and Scheer’s coming public campaigns. That issue could be oncoming job automation, something Liberals appear to understand is important, but just haven’t taken any action on.

With technology rapidly changing, and most progressive groups pushing for higher minimum wages, there’s no getting around it. Job automation is coming, and it is coming now.

According to a 2018 RBC report, potentially over half of Canadian jobs could face some format of job automation in the next 10 years.

Companies are rapidly adapting to a high tech or high skill position environment, many of which young people today as well as the old people of yesterday will simply not have the skills to compete for.

“There will be more jobs in the future, not less. But the skills required are going to change significantly,” explained RBC’s senior vice president John Stackhouse.

In turn, progressive governments will have to provide a solution to a rapidly automated labour market, where there certainly are jobs, but most people can’t get them.

The solution there could be a universal basic income, a policy beginning to make waves throughout our southern neighbour, largely through the campaigning of Democrat candidate Andrew Yang.

Read More: A Universal Basic Income in Canada is feasible. An interview with Scott Santens?

There is a far deeper connection between a universal basic income and Canada than just Andrew Yang. Given the large amount of current social welfare provided, many don’t oppose reorganizations or new ways to provide government aid.

Even in the western provinces, a populist sort of conservatism has previously supported policies like UBI, through similar ideas such as Ralph Klein’s prosperity bonus. Here they viewed it as a return on the wealth of their province.

A nationwide version of the prosperity bonus could be seen along the same lines, as it would take the wealth created through a technological advance to a greener and more automated economy and pass it back to many of the same people who will likely be locked out of the coming high-skill market.

By focusing on three simple by important policies, an NDP-Green coalition could be nimble enough to work with other parties where needed, while pushing through an overarching agenda designed to get them to the 2023 election, which would likely be run under proportional representation, removing the risk of working together in the first place.


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