The New Democratic Party has been surging in the polls. In the most recent polls, the surge is most prominent in the province of Quebec, lags in Ontario, but has brought the party into a statistical tie with the Conservative in the rest of the country. Both the Liberal Party of Canada and the Conservative Party have lost favour in Quebec. The New Democrats (NDP) have a newly elected leader, Thomas Mulcair, who is also the Leader of the Official Opposition.
The Conservative Party and the NDP represent two totally different visions for Canada.
The Conservative Party, similar to the GOP stands for lower taxes, smaller government, more decentralization of federal government powers to the provinces, and a tougher stand on "law and order" issues. During the last election, the Conservative Party ran on the Canada
Action Plan, with a budget already introduced during the previous
session. It has promised Senate reform, including term limits. One of
the mainstays of the Reform Party was a EEE (Elected, Equal and
Effective) Senate. Harper may be able to achieve the Elected and
Effective, however equal requires the approval of the provinces and
Quebec and Ontario are not likely to give up their present number
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The Conservative Party has been plagued with several problems recently, including "Robocalls", buget cuts, particulary in the public service sector and most recently the procurement of the F35B stealth fighter. A recent report by the Auditor General suggests that the government misled the Canadian public on the actual cost of the program. The government contends that it is an accounting issue. Without going into specific details, the robocalls, budget and the fighter issue have raised enough doubt to make the government vulnerable. The conservative government is also criticized for its position on environmental issues, particularly the Alberta Oil Sands and the construction of the Northern Gateway pipeline, which would transport oil from Alberta to the west coast, through environmentally sensitive areas. The majority of citizens in British Columbia oppose the pipeline and oil tanker traffic on the west coast.
Thomas Mulcair, the newly elected leader of the NDP, says that he has an obligation to reach out beyond the traditional base of the NDP and try to rally all progressives across Canada.
"My primary obligation is to reach out beyond the NDP's traditional
base, to try to rally all progressives across Canada under the NDP
This appears to have occurred in Quebec with relative success. Mulcair has his work cut out in Ontario and Western Canada. Some of his recent popularity may be due to a bump in poll numbers after the leadership race and the problems that the present government is experiencing. Three years in politics is a long time though. In the end it will boil down to the health of the economy and delivery of health care.
The battle lines have been drawn and there are two opposing views, with very different platforms. Both parties will have to sell their platform as the best direction for the country.