Everything you need to know about Canada’s federal political parties

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Are you considering voting in this year’s federal election, but not sure which party best represents your interests? (Global News/The Canadian Press/Compilation)

Are you considering voting in this year’s federal election, but not sure which party best represents your interests? Here is a quick run-down of the four main parties’ platforms to date; Conservative, Liberal, NDP, and Green:

The Conservative party

Conservative leader Andrew Scheer. (John Woods/The Canadian Press)

The Conservative’s platform is focused on cutting taxes and saving money for the middle-class. One of their biggest promises is the Universal Tax Cut, which would cut the income tax on those making under $47,630 annually. They claim this will save the average Canadian household $850 a year. 

Andrew Scheer, the leader of the Party, has also pledged to bring back the Public Transit Credit, which previously allowed those who purchase transit passes to claim 15% of what they pay. They also have said they would reintroduce the tax credit for children in sports and the arts. Scheer has also promised to repeal the Liberal government’s Carbon Tax and remove GST from home heating costs.

They intend to improve credential recognition for immigrants to make it easier for them to get jobs. Scheer intends to cut foreign aid by 25%, as well.

The Conservatives plan on removing the oil tanker ban from BC’s coast and would repeal Bill C-69, which puts restrictions on how big energy projects are approved in Canada. They have committed to meeting our current Paris agreements of reducing our carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. The Conservatives proposed reducing the tax rate from 15 percent to five percent for green technology companies. They have stated that they would ensure that the Trans Mountain pipeline proceeds successfully and will end foreign oil imports.

Scheer has also pledged to make Canada safer through tougher gun laws, cracking down on gang activity, increasing resources for the police, and strengthening Canada’s borders.

Scheer has stated that he disagrees with the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, which states that Indigenous peoples have first consent before any development projects can start on the land they live on, though he said more Indigenous people would be employed for these projects. He also disagrees with the National Enquiry into the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls over the last 30 years that concluded that these events are a “Canadian Genocide”. 

The Conservatives have committed to a three percent annual increase in health and social transfer payments and spending $1.5 billion on more medical imaging equipment to help diminish wait times. They also pledged to increase the Age Tax Credit by $1000. 

For students, they have pledged to increase the number of people eligible for Canada Student Grants and increase the RESP contribution from 20 percent to 30 percent, up to $2500 a year.

The Liberal party

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

The Liberal party, led by Justin Trudeau, has promised to increase the basic personal income tax deduction to $15,000. They have committed to provide funding to start-ups and to eliminate the tax fee that merchants pay to credit-card companies. They have promised to cut $1.5 billion in corporate handouts and subsidies and to balance the budget in five years. They have also pledged to cut cell phone bills by 25 percent and pledged $6 billion before the campaign to ensure high-speed internet is accessible everywhere in the country by 2030. 

The Liberal party has pledged subsidies for zero-emission vehicles, wants all new vehicle sales to be zero-emission by 2040, and pledged funding for transit in major cities such as Vancouver and Montreal. They have stated that they will cut taxes by 50 percent for companies that invest in zero-emission technologies or products. They support Line 3, Keystone XL, and the Trans Mountain pipelines. They have pledged to phase out coal power by 2030 and to hit net-zero emissions by 2050. They will ban certain single-use plastics, protect 25% of the country’s land and ocean habitats, and will end “inefficient” fossil fuel subsidies. 

They set a minimum carbon price of $20 per tonne, which is set to increase to $50 by 2022, and a tax on provinces who did not previously have a federally approved plan, providing rebates to individuals in return. They have also pledged to plant 2 billion trees during their term if re-elected.

Trudeau has pledged to increase the Old Age Security by 10 percent for those over 75, and the Canada Pension plan by 25 percent for widows and widowers. They have mentioned taking steps towards a national Pharmacare program, pledged to create 250,000 new child-care spaces, increase the Child Care Benefit by 15 percent for children under one year, and to implement a 15-week leave for adoptive parents. The Party also hopes to increase immigration to 350,000 by 2021.

The Liberals have outlined a $55 billion plan that would be put towards building 100,000 affordable homes, a 10 percent subsidy for first-time buyers, and five percent for resales. They also pledged to offer up to $40,000, interest-free, to help make homes more resilient to extreme weather conditions. 

They said they will ban semi-automatic assault rifles and will buy back those that were legally purchased. They have stated that they will give cities more power to restrict or ban handguns if they so choose.

They have pledged funding for a French-language university in Ontario, $30 million towards post-secondary student recruitment, and stated they would budget money for a national school lunch program.

The New Democratic party

NDP leader Jagmeet Singh. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The NDP, under Jagmeet Singh, has committed $1 billion to childcare programs and will implement a national school nutrition program. 

They have pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 38 percent by 2030. To do this, they have pledged $15 billion for a “climate bank” to invest in clean and renewable energy and would ban single-use plastics by 2022. They will also boost funding for communities affected by natural disasters. The Party has stated that they would give provinces veto power over national infrastructure projects that run through them, including pipelines.

The NDP stated that they will work with provinces and territories to put a cap on tuition and to reduce them. They will eliminate federal interest rates on student loans and add more funding to Canada Student Grants. 

They have promised to expand healthcare to include mental health, dental, eye, hearing coverage, and have promised a “Pharmacare For All” plan to be implemented by 2020. 

The party wants to build 500,000 affordable housing units over 10 years, including accessible ones for seniors and those with physical disabilities; until then, they have proposed a rental subsidy. They want to eliminate the federal GST/HST for those constructing new affordable units. The party would also reintroduce 30-year terms for mortgages for first-time buyers. They have proposed a 15 percent surtax on foreign buyers.

Singh promises to eliminate the Safe Third Country Agreement, which prevents migrants who made claims in the U.S. from making claims in Canada.

The NDP wants to develop an action plan for Indigenous reconciliation based around the calls to action in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. They have also promised to lift all drinking water advisories by 2021.

The party has proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and have pledged to create 300,000 new jobs in their first term. They also want to ban unpaid internships if they don’t count for school credit. The party has stated that they would put a price cap on cell phone and internet bills and will bring high-speed internet to every community in Canada as soon as possible.

The party promises to create a national seniors strategy, which would include a strategy for dementia and a plan to prevent elder abuse. They have promised to make the Caregiver Tax Credit refundable to assist caregivers of seniors. 

The NDP has proposed increasing the rate for capital gains inclusion from 50 to 75 percent, which would mean paying more income tax on profits made from stocks or the sale of properties that are not a primary residence. They also want to increase the top federal personal income tax rate from 33 to 35 percent and impose a one percent wealth tax on those who make more than $20 million a year.

The party wants to electrify transit systems by 2030 and work with municipalities to eventually make rides fare-free. They would also waive the federal tax on zero-emission vehicles and have pledged to make new vehicles zero-emission by 2040. They also have promised to bring back the rural bus service that was cancelled by Greyhound.

Green party

Green party leader Elizabeth May. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

The Green party under leader Elizabeth May has pledged to reduce carbon emissions by 60 percent by 2030, and for Canada to be at net-zero emissions and off oil by 2050. They will ban fracking, end imports on foreign oil, oppose fossil fuel projects, and end fossil fuel subsidies within a year. The party hopes to create jobs in wind turbines, solar panels and other green industries. They want to steer all manufacturing to “100 percent sustainable processes and practices.” The party would provide incentives to those manufacturing electric and hybrid vehicles. May has stated that she would not approve any new pipeline project and opposes any pipeline carrying diluted bitumen. 

The Green’s would also cancel the Trans Mountain pipeline that is currently being constructed. They want all new cars to be electric by 2030 ⁠and to invest in a national grid so these vehicles can get across the country. They also want to reinvest in Canada’s rail systems and work on increasing train speeds. They have also said that they would make bicycles GST-free.

The Green Party has committed to balancing the budget within five years; to help do this, they have pledged to increase the corporate tax rate to 21 percent, impose a new tax on sugary drinks, and impose a financial transactions tax of 0.5 percent. 

They have promised a universal childcare program. They will eliminate tuition, forgive federal student debt. They want to expand the curriculum for Indigenous education and make it easier for Indigenous students to attend post-secondary. They will also boost funding for training immigrants in English and French.

May has promised to increase funding to train doctors and nurses and to expand midwifery programs. They want to extend health care coverage to include universal Pharmacare and dental care for low-income Canadians. The party also says every Canadian should have the right to a “living will” to limit or deny medical treatment. To address the opioid crisis, the party would decriminalize all drug possession. They have also committed to a confidential gun buy-back program and would ban handguns and assault rifles.

They have promised to build 25,000 new affordable units and renovate 15,000 others every year for the next 10 years. They also want to legislate housing as a legally protected fundamental human right for all Canadians.

The Green party believes that the Indian Act is racist, and therefore wants to eliminate it. They also want to create an Aboriginal Lands and Treaties Tribunal Act that would oversee claims and negotiations. They have promised more money for First Nations education and would implement all the recommendations outlined in the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls inquiry.

They want to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour and ban unpaid internships, excluding those for school credits. At the federal level, they also are interested in raising the minimum amounts for vacation and implementing a shorter workweek. They also want to cancel the Temporary Foreign Worker program and implement a guaranteed liveable income. They want to increase immigration to places that can’t fill job vacancies, and also wants to get rid of the Safe Third Country agreement.

Greens also propose developing a national seniors strategy, which includes a national dementia strategy. They want more long-term care beds but also encourages home-sharing plans that would allow seniors to stay in their homes as long as possible. Over time, they propose boosting the Canadian Pension Plan’s target income replacement rate from 25 to 50 percent of income.

The party wants to bring in a law that would force the government to consider the impact that all future legislation will have on small businesses. They have also proposed a Green Venture Capital Fund to help green business start-ups.

The Greens want to increase corporate tax rates from 15 to 21 percent. They also would apply a corporate tax on technology companies such as Netflix, Facebook, and Google, and find a way to tax cryptocurrencies. The party says it would create a Federal Tax Commission to ensure the tax system is fair and accessible.

To bring down cell phone prices, Greens say they want to further amend CRTC regulations and increase competition by opening up the market for potential new Canadian cell companies. The party is also advocating for better infrastructure to make high-speed internet more accessible in Canada.

Where Do You Stand?

If you’re still unsure of how you should vote, check out CBC’s Vote Compass. This tool helps show you how your values and beliefs line up with each federal party.

Emily is in her fourth year of Political Science. She loves studying and academics which follows into her research work. She's a stern black coffee drinker and is a proud Acadienne. When she's not working or doing school work, you can find Emily listening to 70s music on vinyl and watching Parks and Recreation. If you ask her about parliamentary institutions, she won't stop talking.