The federal New Democratic Party and Liberal party held virtual conventions earlier in April and discussed what policies will matter most to voters before the next election.
The 2021 Liberal convention ran from April 8 to 10, while the NDP’s ran from April 9 to 11.
At the virtual conventions, the Liberal party approved 26 policies, such as a universal basic income, pharmacare for all, and national long-term care standards. On April 10, the universal income resolution passed by a vote of 491-85, co-sponsored by the Liberal caucus.
Alex Spears, a member of the Young Liberals of Canada, said to CBC that the UBI program could help distribute more money to working Canadians and lift millions out of poverty.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not shown public support for a UBI program, and it would come at an estimated cost of $85 billion in 2021-22, rising to $93 billion in 2025-26. However, 10 other high-priority resolutions were quickly passed at the convention and became official party policy.
Among those resolutions are a green new deal to transition to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, investing in sustainable Canadian infrastructure projects, and creating new jobs that benefit the environment. Liberal delegates also approved policies such as a trans-Canada high-speed rail line and affordable housing across the country.
By the end of the three-day convention, only five resolutions were rejected, including an inheritance tax on all assets over $2 million, and a reduction of the tax exemption on capital profits by 40 per cent.
“Reach out to your neighbour who had a blue or orange or green lawn sign last time around. COVID-19 has shown us that we’re always stronger together,” Trudeau said in his keynote address speech at the virtual convention.
At the NDP convention, delegates approved 13 policies, including a significant move of “ending all trade and economic cooperation with illegal settlements in Israel-Palestine” with a vote of 80 per cent in approval. The policy also suspends bilateral trade with the State of Israel until Palestinian rights are granted.
“This resolution comes at a critical time in which Canada is in need of a clear vision to promote peace and justice in the Middle East,” said Corey Balsam, national coordinator for the Independent Jewish Voices Canada.
NDP leader Jagmeet Singh told the Canadian Press that he supports the proposal. The NDP also passed a resolution to stand in solidarity with protesting farmers in India, with a vote of 88-12. Other policies the party passed include a new wealthy tax on millionaires, a federal $20
minimum wage, and paid sick days for workers who are qualified.
Individuals with personal incomes over $1 million would face an 80 per cent tax rate and a one per cent tax on those who have over $20 million.
Singh said the tax is to make sure the wealthy pay their fair share and close tax loopholes.
“Who will pay the cost of this pandemic and who will pay the cost of the recovery?” said Singh in his keynote speech. “It should be those who profited off the pandemic, the ultra-wealthy, large corporations that made record-breaking profits.”
Singh said the party wanted to prioritize debate over the proposals. However, they knew it would result in fewer resolutions being passed.
One policy that didn’t make the convention was the proposal of taxing billionaires at 100 per cent.
Both Liberal and NDP federal parties say they don’t want an election but are ready for an early election if the time comes.
“Our priority as a government is going to be helping people get through this pandemic and I hope the different opposition parties will help us … it’s not in our interests to have an election, people want us to work together to help them,” said Trudeau in January.