As some of you may be aware, though more likely not, the Canadian Conservative party is currently without a leader. After a poor showing in the last federal election former leader Stephen Harper stepped down. Since then, there have been nearly a dozen candidates step up. In the last election, conservatism in Canada was given a rough go. Internationally, thanks to certain recently elected officials, conservatism is associated with negative political vibes. People really don’t like what conservatives are selling. Truthfully, conservatives have done a poor job of selling themselves to people. In Canada, specifically, we need conservatives. As national debt and spending are quickly going out of control, so is geopolitical stability. Canada needs conservatives now more than ever.
But people don’t understand the conservative message. Worse still, most Conservatives are stuck on the same narrative, the same rhetoric. Not all elements of the conservative platform are useful, but many are. Hopefully the new leader of our party will present these benefits in a way Canadians understand. Personally, I have some opinions on how a conservative government would, and should, run a Canadian government. Perhaps conservative messages people don’t understand, or realized the benefits of. Since I stand no chance of being elected conservative leader, certainly in the near future, I’m posting this here. Should I, by some twist of fate, be elected, let’s consider this the basis for my platform. These are generalizations and summaries of how I believe conservatives should be running policy in Canada.
My conservative vision for Canada
Many associate the platform with conservatives as cut and slash, and perhaps that’s true. So I want to set this precedent outright. Canadians of all backgrounds should always have the right to access of healthcare. Our universal healthcare system is the pride of Canadians, and an essential part of our society. This system should be protected. Unlike current plans, healthcare assignments to provinces should return to a 6% annual increase, reviewed every four years. Our population is aging. Provincial healthcare costs are increasing faster than ever. However, the Federal government should introduce a request for accountability from provinces. Currently, no request is made from provincial governments to ensure full healthcare disbursements are used for provincial healthcare. The Federal government should not dictate the individual line items, or force specific policy on the provinces. It should be aware of how the healthcare money is spent. This accountability is essential to ensure the most effective use of Canadian taxpayer dollars.
Additionally, the Federal government should award additional funds for provinces to address national medical concerns. Obesity and mental health are serious issues that affect all Canadians. We should be encouraging provinces to dedicate resources and facilities to properly treating diseases such as these. National programs should, with accountability, work in tandem with provinces to tackle national healthcare issues as they arise.
This will be a trend you’ll see brought up again and again: accountability. The key to ensuring money is well spent is accountability. Again, the education system in Canada is essential for all Canadians. This is another key right which should be protected. The Federal government should take a keen interest in education, specifically national campaigns. Canadians don’t always have the best information available to them, which may hinder their ability to make educated, informed decisions. In addition to preserving our schools, the Federal government should institute national informational programs. These programs include education about diet, lifestyle and other important issues. Education is a tool we can use to fight national epidemics and issues, as well as enrich our national culture. A small investment in preventative education could prevent much larger expenses in the future.
Canadian sovereignty through our military
No matter your opinion on war, or the existence of a military in Canada, our men and women in uniform deserve the best tools for the job. These Canadians are willing to lay down their lives to protect us. We owe them no less than ensuring they have access to the skills and equipment to be most effective at their job. Internationally, we’re failing to meet the commitments we’ve made to our NATO allies in military spending. The two are linked. However, Canada’s military policy needs to be focused on ensuring national sovereignty. Our nation is surrounded by three oceans, but our navy is nearly non existent. We have no major presence in the arctic. Much of the major equipment our military uses is beyond their intended or acceptable operational life. More importantly, we need to ensure the Canadians who serve in our military are well taken care of. This includes increasing base salaries, improving base conditions, investing in improved mental health reliability and prevention. Canada should increase the number of active bases for military housing. Over crowding is one issue, but so is the strategic value in keeping military operations spread across our nation.
There is a lot here already to consider, and now this. Canada’s financial situation is becoming concerning. There is an argument for running a slight deficit to encourage infrastructure spending, but this should be the exception. The Federal government’s mandate should be to balance the budget. Even with increases in military spending, there are cost reductions that can be used to balance the budget. Past governments have shown this to be possible. Canadian households are now living with record levels of debt. The message from our governments has been it’s OK to run a budget like that. For the sake of future generations, Canada needs to run on a balanced budget. In years of growth, surplus is fully used on national debt. Reducing national debt payments frees up funds to increase budget spending in other crucial areas. Initially, they enable increased reduction of national debt.
As an extension to a balanced budget, the federal government should lead by example. This would include a reduction in the current number of cabinets to a maximum of 20. Less would be better. Ministries would also be held into accountability for all external contract usage, where internal resources could be utilized. Canada has a strong and capable public service, protected by a union. Great care should be taken to preserve our public service while making staffing considerations. An open, but honest, dialogue with union leaders and members is crucial during this process. If at all possible, reduction goals should be met through attrition, not job cutting. This is a delicate balance to strike, and both sides will have to make compromises. It may also be time to review the internal processes. Canada is a country of intelligent, entrepreneurial, innovative and hard working people. Our government should maximize this spirit to reduce bureaucratic load.
In a parliamentary democracy, a majority government should not mean the ruling party can pass any policy bill at will. Currently, there is an astonishing lack of freedom for Members of Parliament. MPs from all parties should be free to speak and vote based on the attitude and feedback of their constituency. While party policy is the voting mandate, should an MP feel the people in the constituency are harmed or opposed to the bill, they need the freedom to vote that way. A party should be confident in knowing Canadians are behind their platform policies by their election to power. However, it should not then be run unchecked. Votes of no confidence should not be reserved for minority governments. Let’s free our MPs to speak on behalf of the people who chose them as representation.
There’s no secret to the issues within our First Nations communities. However, the people of the First Nations have a proud heritage, and a Federally given right to self governance. This should be respected. By the same token, the governments of the First Nations should have the same accountability as provincial governments for healthcare and education disbursements. While the Federal government should have no oversight in how monies are spent by the self governing First Nations, they should provide an account. This will better help First Nations identify how money is spent, and give feedback on communities where Federal money isn’t enough. This isn’t a silver bullet to the solution. There are many ways relations must improve. It is, however, a great way to establish baseline trust and accountability for both Federal and First Nations governments.
Preservation of human rights
Canada has made great strides in issuing rights to its citizens. There are movements in conservative circles that would reverse them. I believe the rights currently afforded Canadians should not change. This includes rights like same sex marriage and abortion. Personally, I believe abortion is wrong and should never be a consideration. However, I believe more strongly that we should preserve a woman’s right to decide for herself what action to take with her body. She should be well educated and supported in that decision. This is where education can be used to convey the benefits of life, as opposed to forcing pro-life onto her. Ensure resources and paths are available to her to make the pro-life choice more appealing. Canadians have spoken clearly on these issues on the past and there is no indication public opinion has changed. These are places moving backwards is not ideal.
Canada is a unique country. We have so much history as a nation. A big part of that history is our raw resources and manufacturing. There is good reason for us to preserve and develop this core to our national economy. We should use the natural resources industries of our nation to anchor our economic growth. At the same time, we should be investing to help these industries become cleaner, better. Manufacturing is a Canadian tradition. We should open our provincial borders, further focusing on using the skills in one province to build for the economy of another. Technology and innovation are the future of Canada’s economy. With our traditional strengths as our foundation, a Federal program to continue to spur scientific and technological research, creation and distribution. Canada is, and should, be known internationally as a innovative technology and science leader. Let’s make the economy of science and technology a Canadian hallmark.
Climate change is real. Our contribution to carbon emissions is a concern for the Canada we give future Canadians. We should aggressively continue to peruse our pledged decreases in emissions. A Federal fund to provide grants to Canadians who switch to green energies. Let’s use education to help people understand how every day actions have a global impact. Our natural resources, like fresh water, are the envy of the world. Their protection is our responsibility.