2019 Canadian Federal Election - What Are The Issues?

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ICYMI, October 21st is a big day in the true north strong and free. Why? Because it’s the day Canadians get a chance to flex our democratic muscles and vote in a new federal government. Yup, it’s already been four years since Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party were elected; and now, they (and other parties) are vying for your support to lead our country for the next four years.

Obvs, it’s an important decision – I mean, have you seen what’s going on in the world, lately? Rough stuff. But as always, we #gotchu and want to help you get dialled in on some key issues. Be sure to click the links for full plan details! Alright, let’s get this party started.

Speaking of parties – find out who’s running and what their parties are all about.

It’s Getting Hot In Here - Climate Change


Liberals: The Liberals have tried a few things when it comes fighting an ever-heating earth. For example, they recently introduced the carbon tax, which forces provinces to pay $10/tonne of carbon dioxide starting in 2019, and $50/tonne by 2022. While it def wasn’t a popular tactic (some provinces are fighting the tax), the Liberals claim it’ll force Canadian companies to find innovative climate solutions while deterring big polluters. The Liberals have also promised to ban the use of single-use plastics by 2021. But the party is still somewhat measured in their approach, with Trudeau continuously fighting to get the Trans Mountain pipeline built.

Conservatives: Andrew Scheer has zero chill for the Liberal carbon tax and has promised to axe it. Instead, he promises to reduce emissions without taxing Canadians by setting emissions limits for major emitters and forcing anyone who exceeds those limits to fork over cash that will go into a fund for government-sanctioned cleantech companies, of which Scheer says he will export to the world. TBD on the actual reduction numbers though – Scheer’s been tight-lipped on that.

NDP: The NDP’s climate plan is also down with banning single-use plastics, wanting to get it done by 2022. In addition, Singh and his party plan to tackle transit by supporting low-carbon transit projects; they’re looking to have Canada powered by carbon-free electricity by 2030 and non-emitting electricity by 2050. And if you’re buying a new home, you’ll want to know that the NDP wants to make sure all buildings in Canada are energy efficient by 2030 and that existing buildings are retrofitted by 2050, a plan Singh says will save Canadians $900/year. But the plan doesn’t quite confirm if they’re going to shut down all fossil fuel projects.

The Green Party: As expected, the Green Party of Canada has quite an ambitious climate plan. Vote Green and expect policies such as a total stop to all new fossil fuel development projects and imports, a shift to non-nuclear renewable energy sources, an energy-efficient retrofit of all buildings in Canada in the next 11 years, and a promise to hit zero emissions by 2050 with a 60% reduction by 2030.

Come Some, Come All - Immigration And The Refugee Crisis


Liberals: Justin Trudeau is all for immigration and the settlement of refugees in Canada, so long as it’s fair to everyone. And according to Trudeau, that’s why his government is making moves to change a loophole in Canada’s “Safe Third Country Agreement,” which allows refugees to make asylum claims in Canada after passing from the U.S. through unofficial border checkpoints. Trudeau wants the law changed to allow border officials to send refugees back to the first “safe” country they entered, which is typically the U.S. Trudeau is also looking to increase permanent resident admissions, enhance services dedicated to settling newcomers and boost funding to Canada’s enforcement at the border. But it ain’t cheap and not everyone likes it. Trudeau’s plan is estimated to cost $1.8. billion over five years (not to mention the $26 million he dished out to offset cuts to Ontario’s funding for refugees) and some human rights advocates think closing the loophole isn’t fair.

Conservatives: Andrew Scheer is treading a similar path to Trudeau. He outlines in his plan that he also wants to renegotiate the “Safe Third Country Agreement” and end all illegal border crossings. In addition, he wants to make sure that those facing real persecution are prioritized and that all skilled workers have a clear path to residency and access to better language training. But the Conservative party has made it clear that it’s not about open borders, planning to set immigration levels that are in “Canada’s best interests” – though, we don’t know if that means a cut in numbers.

NDP: The NDP’s plan is a bit of the same same, but different. Like the Liberals and the Conservatives, the NDP has an issue with the “Safe Third Country Agreement,” except they want it suspended entirely. They also want to end caps on the number of people allowed to apply to sponsor parents and grandparents to come to Canada. Singh and his party promise to tackle the backlog of resettlement claims and say they want to ensure that Canada’s labour force gets the skilled workers it needs, improving recognition of foreign qualifications.

The Green Party: Elizabeth May and the Greens haven’t exactly laid out a recent plan on how they’re going to deal with issues related to immigration. But, May has been clear she’s not down with any party closing the “Safe Third Country Agreement” loophole, upset at the fact that anyone in need would be turned away.

Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’? - Housing Affordability


Liberals: In his time in office, PM Trudeau and his party have introduced a few measures to try to help Canadians afford a home in the increasingly expensive market. Between 2016 and 2018 the party brought in the mortgage stress test to ensure anyone buying a home could truly afford to do so if interest rates took a jump. The Liberals also laid out their national housing strategy in which they’d invest $55 billion over 10 years to create 125,000 new homes and repair over 300,000 homes. Next up came the First-Time Home Buyer’s Incentive, which helps first-timers make a more affordable leap into homeownership by footing some of the cost up front. And finally, Trudeau is promising to help struggling families pay for their homes through the Canada Housing Benefit.

Conservatives: Scheer sees this as a key issue for Canadians and has said that his party would boost the supply of homes by making it easier for units to get built and easier for people to qualify for mortgages. That means, though, that he’s not a fan of the Liberals’ mortgage stress test, promising if he’s elected PM to do a review of it; specifically, he wants to do away with a part of the test that forces people already borrowing from one lender to re-do the test should they decide they want to switch lenders. Scheer says this holds Canadians hostage and makes it hard to shop around for better rates.

NDP: Singh and his NDP party are looking to help Canadians get into the housing market by promising to build 500,000 affordable homes over the next 10 years, double the Home Buyer’s tax credit to $1,500, cut out the federal GST/HST on the construction of new rental units, and bring back 30-year mortgage terms so that first-time buyers can pay a smaller monthly amount. They also want to put in place a Foreign Buyer’s tax for anyone who isn’t a Canadian citizen or permanent resident.

The Green Party: The Green Party also sees housing affordability as big issue facing most Canadians. The Greens want to establish a Guaranteed Livable Income for all Canadians to help keep them out of poverty and get them into affordable housing, implement a National Housing Strategy, tackle housing for the homeless, increase housing availability to Indigenous Canadians living on and off reserves, and put more money into boosting co-op housing.

Yours, Mine And Ours - Women’s Issues


Liberals: Canada’s current Liberal government says it’s supporting women’s issues by ensuring women have “safe and legal access to reproductive and abortion services” – a service that’s been under fierce attack in the U.S. Liberals also promise to continue helping female entrepreneurs, women in trades and encourage girls and women to pursue careers in STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math). The party recently announced that they’re backing the Equality Fund, which invests in women’s rights organizations here and around the world, by committing $330 million in funding. But this issue might be a tough sell for the Liberals after JT got slammed for allegedly pressuring his former attorney general, Jody Wilson-Raybould, to interfere with a court case involving Canadian company SNC-Lavalin, and later removing her from his government when she refused.

Conservatives: Andrew Scheer and his Conservatives want to help women by putting more money in the pockets of new parents, promising to make maternity benefits tax-free. Scheer’s plan will cut out the federal income tax typically taken from new parents who draw on maternity EI (Employment Insurance) and paternal EI benefits, opting instead to provide a non-refundable tax credit of up to 15% on any income earned under those two benefit programs. But pro-choice Canadians feel a little nervous about Scheer when it comes to protecting women’s abortion rights, as he’s got a past supporting anti-abortion laws. But, Scheer has said that he will not reopen the abortion debate

NDP: The NDP is appealing for your vote by promising to tackle gender-based issues such as the wage gap between men and women. Jagmeet Singh’s party promises to “prioritize pay equity” by requiring employers to be open about pay and by enforcing tough pay equity laws. But that’s not all, if elected, the NDP plans to support the implementation of domestic violence leave for victims and to address violence against Indigenous women. They also want to make affordable childcare a priority, as well as ensure women have access to safe abortions and contraceptive and reproductive healthcare, all while encouraging political parties to include more female candidates.

The Green Party: May has said in the past that she identifies as a feminist and fully supports a woman’s right to a safe abortion should she need one. She also thinks support needs to be in place for both women and men who require child support services, as well as information on birth control.

Why Can’t We Be Friends? - Foreign Affairs


Liberals: Justin Trudeau has had a busy few years fighting foreign fires, so to speak: U.S. Prez Donald Trump and the renegotiation of NAFTA (i.e. the North American Free Trade Agreement), a diplomatic nightmare and the ensuing trade war with China over the detention of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. Trudeau continues to tout his successes in handling both situations, noting that NAFTA was re-drafted with little detriment to Canada and that his government is continuing to negotiate firmly with China. And when it comes to working with foreign allies, Trudeau is clear that Canada has a role to play, and that it’s worth nurturing those relationships.

Conservatives: Scheer wants to get tough with countries like China, saying that, if elected, he’ll reduce Canada’s reliance on trade with the foreign rival. He also plans to make the same move as the U.S. did in moving the Canadian Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He promises to get Canada’s navy upgraded to protect our waters and go hard against Iran, marking the Iranian Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) as a terrorist group and punishing Iran’s human rights offenders.

NDP: Jagmeet Singh and his NDP party are clear they want Canada to continue as the global peacekeeper abroad, which is why the party says it wants to cut all arms exports to offenders like Saudi Arabia. In addition, the NDP wants Canada to spread its wealth and support humanitarian efforts around the world related to things like poverty, disease control, and the protection of women and girls.

The Green Party: If they get your vote, the Green Party promises to establish Canada as a global leader in fighting poverty and supporting peacekeeping efforts. The party wants to shift Canada’s defence spending to things like disaster relief assistance and push our resources away from war missions to peacekeeping missions. It will also join the UN in investing in local businesses in impoverished regions. And as for at home, the Greens say they want to boost resources to support Veterans Affairs Canada.


This is what the next four years could look like under each of Canada’s leading parties. No doubt it’s an important decision, and we hope this cheat sheet has helped to inform you about where each party stands. Now it’s your turn to do the work: on October 21st, it’s your job to GET UP, SHOW UP and VOTE UP! Pledge to vote with Pressed here.

Jacqueline Leung