Much ink has been spilled during the election campaign about the rise of the People’s Party of Canada and the dangers of increasing intolerance among us.
And there is no doubt that Canada’s next government will need to be vigilant and aware that this intolerance could spread like a coronavirus, a virulent strain of populism that could infect our political stability.
But there is a compensatory development that was also evident during the campaign, which should give us some heart. Even when the parties relentlessly attacked each other, all of their platforms included an acknowledgment of the government’s central role in supporting Canadians through a crisis, and at least an unspoken decision to worry about the tax implications later on.
The current buffet of COVID-19 supports expires in October, but multiple promises during the campaign made it clear that the next Parliament will extend those benefits in some form and then carefully withdraw them or replace them with more affordable options when the economy regains its balance. .
And when the urgent stage of the pandemic has passed, all major parties have committed to soft fiscal discipline: a declining debt-to-GDP ratio that will make this year’s massive deficits and the latter easier to carry over into the long term. . .
Certainly, there are differences between the parties.
Conservatives say their goal is to balance the budget in 10 years. But without intermediate goals or a clear description of how to get there, that’s the fiscal equivalent to the liberals’ plans to simply allow economic growth and increased tax revenue to gradually reduce the debt burden over time.
Conservatives also want to cut the Liberals’ $ 30 billion child care plan and tend to favor tax incentives over outright spending to entice the public to change their ways.
The NDP wants to dramatically increase spending, proposing $ 215 billion in new measures over five years, compared to $ 78 billion for liberals and $ 51 billion for conservatives. But the NDP also proposes to tax most of that, that is, through a wealth tax.
In other words, if the platforms are a signal, all three parties see merit in perpetuating the fiscal collaboration that brought them together in the spring of 2020. Back then, when COVID-19 closed the business and sent us to take refuge in our homes. They put aside their differences and sought common ground in our most basic values as Canadians: supporting the vulnerable and using the public purse to do so.
That collaboration cushioned the economic blow of the pandemic and set the stage for a humane approach to the pandemic economy that lasted a year and a half, despite some disputes here and there.
Fiscal hawks have despaired of low-key discussion during the campaign about balancing the budget or at least controlling the deficit for years to come. And the lack of a solid long-term plan to deal with mounting debt is really worrisome, especially if interest rates start to rise.
The next government will need to start dealing with that challenge almost immediately.
But at this point, especially when anger and resentment over the pandemic have found a political home in the PPC, we are lucky that the social cohesion that stems from tripartite economic collaboration around COVID-19 has lasted so long.
Just before Tiff Macklem became governor of the Bank of Canada in mid-2020, he spoke with Star about the keys to navigating through the financial crisis. Social cohesion was high on his list because, without it, bold decisions about how to protect society from the worst of the crisis cannot be made or implemented.
It is that social cohesion that will allow us to keep anti-vaccines confined to PPC.
By choosing what appears to be a minority government, the electorate is sending a message to MPs that that kind of collaborative approach to governing must continue.
In a recent interview on how the pandemic has affected politics in the GTA, Vaughan Mayor Maurizio Bevilacqua pointed this out.
COVID has forced voters to rethink how they work, how they care for the elderly, how they care for each other, and what they expect from their elected representatives, he says.
“When people take a step back and look at COVID-19, they will have a different appreciation of the role of government.”
One of the important legacies of the pandemic, he noted, is that many voters do not want to hear politicians fight each other and want them to put aside “the pettiness of politics.”
If our newly elected MPs take that message seriously and remember the collaboration that smoothed out the rough edges of the pandemic recession, they stand a good chance of neutralizing the wrath of the PPC vote.
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