The pandemic, the weather, the racism, the affordability – here are the options on the big issues of this election.

CAMBRIDGE, ONT. – The choice in this election is clear.

At least, that’s what federal leaders have been telling you for the past 35 days.

In reality, no political party has managed to establish a narrative that has been stuck in this summer election.

But time is up. Millions of Canadians will vote tomorrow and determine the direction of the country at a time of great uncertainty. His decisions will come after a scathing campaign about everything and nothing, carried out in a context of anxiety, anger and ambivalence.

Is it COVID-19 or a post-COVID recovery? About child care or climate change? On affordability and housing, on racism and reconciliation, on who can be most trusted to lead?

As unsatisfactory as federal campaign responses to those questions have been over the past five weeks, parties differ on some key questions that will help voters make a decision.

Pandemic management

If your main concern is how Canada exits the fourth wave of COVID-19 and handles future pandemics, the campaign has highlighted at least one area of ​​deep disagreement: vaccines.

Nearly seven million eligible Canadians remain unvaccinated and vulnerable to the Delta variant. It is mainly the province’s job to get the gun strikes, but the federal parties would push the provincial efforts differently.

Liberals have made proof of vaccination mandatory for all federal public service workers and Canadians who want to board planes or interprovincial trains. Trudeau would give a billion dollars to the provinces to develop national vaccination tests. Most provinces, except PEI and New Brunswick, which has not ruled it out, now say they will require vaccination cards to allow people to enter public spaces, such as restaurants, theaters or gyms.

The NDP is in favor of requiring vaccination certificates, would extend it to federally regulated workers, and would have moved faster, by Labor Day, to enforce them.

Conservatives, on the other hand, would not tell the provinces, or their own federal candidates, many of whom refuse to make their vaccination status public, what to do. Erin O’Toole has said that vaccines are critical, but they would respect people’s “personal health choice” not to get vaccinated. O’Toole is also encouraging the wider use of daily rapid tests for the unvaccinated. The Greens also do not accept mandatory vaccination certificates.

All parties are committed to giving more money for health care to the provinces, but here too there are differences when it comes to their levels of ambition.

Conservatives promise $ 3.6 billion more in healthcare transfers over the next five years, and up to $ 60 billion more over the next decade with no strings attached.

The Liberals promise $ 10 billion for the 2021-22 budget year, but it comes with strings attached: $ 6 billion should go towards eliminating treatment delays and $ 3.2 billion to hire more nurses and doctors. Trudeau says he will increase health transfers, but only after negotiating with the provinces after the pandemic. The NDP promises $ 68 billion over five years and is the only party that promises to eliminate private for-profit operators in long-term care homes, which, according to Jagmeet Singh, contributed to pandemic deaths in Canada. .

Trust and leadership

But despite all the anxiety about COVID and the focus on vaccines, voters are often focused on a more fundamental question: Who do you trust? And because?

Trudeau has a record six years in government. He wants you to look at how he handled the pandemic, as well as his plan to “build back better” in the post-COVID future. However, his rivals highlight a different aspect of his record: a series of ethical violations: his Christmas family trip to the island of Aga Khan, the SNC-Lavalin saga and the WE Charity controversy. They also cite their failure to deliver on past promises, such as democratic reform or pharmacology.

O’Toole, a rookie federal leader, is a lesser-known politician and he admits it. “I am not a celebrity.” He wants voters to look beyond his own party’s infighting to his middle-class upbringing, his military career as a flight navigator, and his business experience as a corporate attorney.

His detractors, even within his own party, see him differently. He won the party leadership as a “True Blue” conservative with the backing of social conservatives, and immediately became a “progressive” conservative with a message of inclusion. He has also reversed course on some sensitive issues: campaigning for a carbon tax after promising to “scrap” the liberal system, changing the “rights of conscience” for medical professionals, and leaving open the possibility of maintaining the ban on carbon. liberals. on “assault style” firearms.

Singh has presented himself as the true progressive in this race. He’s betting everything on his “friendliness” and “authenticity” as a modern young leader. But he often doesn’t offer detailed policy prescriptions for his promises, like tackling climate change, child care, and pharmaceutical care, basically saying that he will get things done.

Rookie green leader Annamie Paul, a bilingual, black, Jewish woman, remains a stranger to most Canadians. Paul performed well in national election debates, his first real chance to run. But he has fought his toughest electoral battles within his own party. He lost a popular deputy from Fredericton to the Liberals. His critics want him to go. As a leader, he says he will not go anywhere for now, but did not rule out resigning after the elections.


Political strategists never tire of emphasizing the importance of pocket issues in Canadian elections. And with the economy slowly coming out of its COVID coma, “affordability” has been a central part of every party’s discourse.

In 2021, that focus is largely on housing, and younger Canadians despair at the prospect of owning their own home. Each party has its own schemes to address the housing supply shortage and adjustments to various tax measures to make home ownership more affordable.

But the clearest contrast between the leading parties is on the issue of child care. Liberals have pledged to invest billions and have signed deals with several provinces to make $ 10-a-day childcare a reality in Canada. The New Democrats and the Greens largely agree with that.

Conservatives are emphatically not. They would scrap the plans of the liberals, and the agreements already reached with the prime ministers, in favor of promoting direct payments to parents. Conservatives’ commitment to tax breaks to parents would provide only a fraction of the savings the liberal plan would provide and, experts say, would not address the shortage of childcare spaces in cities like Toronto.

Climate change

Voters’ choice on climate change is generally clearer than it is this time. But the conversion of the conservatives in the last hour on the price of carbon has complicated it.

After long denouncing the liberals’ “job-killing carbon tax”, O’Toole has made carbon pricing an official party policy, albeit with a bounty-style rebate program. for the more complicated client and general objectives less aggressive than those that liberals promise to fulfill. . It may be enough to convince some voters, but those who rank climate change high on their list of political priorities are unlikely to be convinced.

The Liberals set a new emissions reduction target of 40 percent below 2005 levels by 2030. Trudeau has also pledged to raise his minimum carbon price from $ 40 a ton to $ 170 a ton during that time.

Singh is committed to doing all of that and more – raising the emissions reduction target to 50% below 2005 levels by 2030, changing the way carbon pricing is applied to industrial emitters, and ending all federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

The green platform is naturally the most aggressive in the climate crisis: canceling all new pipeline projects, dramatically increasing the minimum carbon price, and phasing out Canada’s oil and gas sector by 2035.


Canada is going through a wave of hate crimes, and Toronto police received 50 percent more reports of hate crimes in 2020 than the previous year.

It will take more than the federal government to address that problem. But three of the four main parties emphasize diversity, inclusion and the fight against racism on their platforms.

Liberals have faced sharp criticism for failing to address racism and sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces, something they have vowed to fix if they are reelected. The party is also committed to implementing a national strategy to tackle hate crimes, including reducing hate speech online, although its proposal to deal with internet toxicity was met with intense criticism.

The NDP and the Green platforms have strong wording on the urgent need to address racism and hatred, and the NDP is committed to ensuring that all major cities have dedicated hate crime police units and both sides focus on the restorative justice rather than mandatory minimums.

The conservative platform is relatively calm on these issues. In fact, the word “racism” does not appear in the document.

Conservatives favor a “tough on crime” approach to dealing with hate. While the party tends to focus on freedom of expression, it is committed to criminalizing statements that encourage violence against others and to promoting a relatively modest federal fund for places of worship to implement security measures.

According to the latest public polls, Liberals and Conservatives are running hand in hand with New Democrats who see modest gains, the Greens are holding firm, and the People’s Party could make surprising advances Monday night.

The options may be clear. But one day after Canada’s 44th general election, the political landscape is quite the opposite.


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