Canadian Political Parties—What They Represent
Canada is a constitutional Democracy, with its Head of State Queen Elizabeth II. She is represented by the Governor General, who is presently David Johnson.
The governing authority of Canada is vested in Parliament, which consists of an appointed Senate and a House of Commons, comprised of 308 elected members. The party with the most seats generally forms the government. 155 seats are required to form a majority government. A party that wins an election with less than 155 seats forms a minority government, which requires the co-operation of other parties to pass legislation. The Prime Minister leads the government, which is presently Conservative and led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
There are five parties represented in Canada's latest Parliament—they are:
- The Conservative Party of Canada - Leader: Stephen Harper;
- The New Democratic Party - Leader: Interim Leader Nicole Turmel
- Liberal Party of Canada - Interim Leader: Bob Rae
- Bloc Quebecois - Interim Leader - Vivian Barbot
- Green Party - Leader: Elizabeth May - only party member elected
Conservative Party of Canada
Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservative Party of Canada emerged from Alberta as the Reform Party under Preston Manning. Since the conservative vote was divided, although it had successes, conservatives never had a chance to defeat the governing Liberals. Eventually, the party became the Alliance Party and later merged with the Progressive Conservative Party to become the Conservative Party of Canada. It's first and present leader is Stephen Harper.
The Conservative Party is the present governing party in Canada. Since 2005 Stephen Harper led a minority government and in the election in May, he won a majority government. The Party holds 166 of the 308 seats in Parliament.
The Party, similar to the GOP stands for lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of federal government powers to the provinces, and a tougher stand on "law and order" issues.
During the last election, the Conservative Party ran on the Canada Action Plan, with a budget already introduced during the previous session. It has promised Senate reform, including term limits. One of the mainstays of the Reform Party was a EEE (Elected, Equal and Effective) Senate. Harper may be able to achieve the Elected and Effective, however equal requires the approval of the provinces and Quebec and Ontario are not likely to give up their present number advantage.
The New Democratic Party
The New Democratic Party evolved from the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation, which was a movement that emerged from Saskatchewan. The newly formed Canadian Labour Congress started negotiating with the CCF in 1956 to bring about a merger of the organized labour and the political left. In 1961 the New Democratic Party emerged, led by former Saskatchewan Premier Tommy Douglas. The present leader of the Party is Thomas Mulcair, who was confirmed with 92% of delegates on April 14, 2013. The party's popular leader Jack Layton passed away on August 22, 2011. The Party holds 103 of 308 seats in Parliament and is the official opposition.
The New Democratic Party stands for many issues embraced today in the Democratic Party. The party embodies gender equality and equal rights for the LBGT community, improving environmental protection, national water standards, reducing poverty and increasing corporate taxes while decreasing taxes for small business. It further promotes aggressive human rights protection, including the support of the "Idle no more" movement, improving public transportation, improving universality of health care, to include prescription drug coverage and dental care.
In the field of social issues, it also supports social assistance to permit citizens to re-enter the workforce, workers rights, aboriginal rights,
In other issues the party wants to renegotiate the free trade agreement, abolishing the unelected Senate, ending the war on drugs and legalizing recreational drugs.
During the 2013 national convention, the party removed the word socialist from its preamble, replacing it with a democratic socialist party. It is working to become the governing party in the next election.
Liberal Party of Canada
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberal Party of Canada has a long history of governing, governing for 69 years in the 20th Century. For the first 29 years of Confederation (1867) it was relegated to opposition. The Party describes itself as a left of centre party, but to the right of the NDP.
The Party is the party of Laurier, Lyon MacKenzie King, Pearson, Trudeau and Chretien. Pearson introduced the new Canadian Flag, a social network with the introduction of universal health care and the Canada Pension Plan and student loans.
Trudeau, a charismatic leader introduced his just society, invoked the War Measures Act during the October Crisis, when the Front Liberation. Trudeau repatriated the Canadian constitution in 1982, introduced official multiculturalism, official bilingualism and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Jean Chretien was Prime Minister from 1993 to 2003, when he resigned. He campaigned on renegotiating the Free Trade deal and on tearing up the Goods and Service Tax, neither of which happened. He snubbed George Bush by not becoming a participant in the invasion of Iraq, since it was not approved by the UN.
The party leadership was taken over by Paul Martin, who was a successful Finance Minister, balancing the budget, perceived by many, on the back of the provinces. Paul Martin was defeated in 2005 by Stephen Harper, who formed and ran a minority government until 2011 when he won a majority, and the Liberal Party was relegated to third-party status.
Leadership of the party was taken over by Stephane Dion and later by Michael Ignatieff. Neither was able to resonate with Canadians. Bob Rae took over the interim leadership of the party after Ignatieff's resignation after the May election.
On April 14, 2013 Justin Trudeau was confirmed as the new leader of the Liberal Party, with 80 percent support. He is the heir to his famous father, who was popular in the 70s.
Current policy positions of the party are introduction of a family care plan to assist those that are caregivers to elderly or ill persons, investment in higher education, deficit reduction and spending restraint, maintaining corporate tax at 2010 levels (19%), quadruple alternative energy production (wind, solar and biomass) and a national food policy to support farmers.
The party is presently in a rebuilding phase. The challenge will be for the party to distance itself from the NDP and also demonstrate differences with the governing Conservatives.
The Bloc Quebecois was formed of former Quebec members of the Conservative and Liberal Parties after the Meech Lake Accords was defeated. The Accord which was intended to persuade Quebec to sign the Canadian Constitution of 1982, offered five modifications, a recognition of Quebec as a distinct society, a constitutional veto for all provinces, increased provincial powers for immigration, financial compensation for provinces opting out of federal programs under their jurisdiction and provincial input in the appointment of Supreme Court judges. When the Accord failed to pass in a referendum, it caused the exodus of the two major political parties.
The parties mandate is primarily to promote Quebec sovereignty at the federal level. It only runs candidates in Quebec. During the recent election it suffered heavy losses, primarily picked up by the NDP, and only holds 4 of 308 seats in the House of Commons. Vivan Barbot is the party's interim leader after Gilles Duceppe's resignation.
Green Party of Canada
Last but not least is the Green Party of Canada. The party promotes, well basically, everything green. The parties platform reflects its core ecological values, social justice, grassroots democracy, and non-violence. The party hopes to tackle environmental as well as other social issues. It received less than 4% of the popular vote during the 2011 election.
The party is being led by Elizabeth May, who is the first elected Green Party Member of Parliament, and she recently voted against extending the war in Libya, while the remainder of Parliament voted in favour of the extension.