The NDP launched its party platform on Sunday in Toronto and presented what it termed “practical first steps” to doing what it believes needs to be done to give “your family a break.”
As all of the other parties have, the NDP platform gives five priorities that they say they will get results on within 100 days of the election. Those priorities include hiring more doctors and nurses, strengthening public pensions, a commitment to job creation, controls over sales taxes and credit rates, and committing to stopping political scandals while working with other parties.
The platform recommits to several of the private member’s bills that the NDP introduced in the last parliament, including a commitment to trans rights and cheaper AIDS drugs for the developing world.
“We will ensure that gender identity and gender expression are included as prohibited grounds of discrimination in the Canadian Human Rights Act, amend the hate crimes and sentencing provisions of the Criminal Code to ensure we are providing explicit protection for transgender and transsexual Canadians from discrimination in all areas of federal jurisdiction,” reads the platform document.
The platform also pledges to expand the focus to queer issues abroad.
“We will support gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual equality internationally, as per the Montreal and Jakarta Declaration on Human Rights.”
The equality section of the platform includes appropriate redress for historic issues resulting from government actions against cultural communities, including the option of official apologies and compensation. The platform also promises to institute a proactive pay-equity regime and to implement the UN Convention on the Rights of the Disabled.
The platform touches on new money for crime prevention programs, multiyear funding for new police officers, and creating new offences for gang recruiting, home invasions and carjacking. It promises to ensure proper treatment and care of mentally ill offenders in prisons but offers nothing on drug or addiction treatment.
As well, there are commitments to building home-grown film and television production by refocusing the CRTC mandate, providing more sustainable funding to the Canadian Media Fund and Telefilm Canada, and developing a digital culture service to provide greater access to Canadian content.
Critics will likely point to the way the NDP platform is costed. For example, it includes billions in revenues for the current fiscal year from a cap-and-trade system that would be a tough sell even in better economic times.
On top of that, many of the platform promises involve areas of provincial jurisduction, such as healthcare, education and pensions. Yet there is little acknowledgement that these promises are contingent upon the cooperation of the provinces.
Likewise, there is no acknowledgement that some of the “democratic reform” measures, such as Senate abolition, would require constitutional amendments. In the case of Senate abolition, it would require the unanimous agreement of all provinces, and several provinces, including Quebec, have already stated their opposition to such a process.