NDP platform pledges to make trade talks more open, electoral reform
Terry Pedwell, The Canadian Press
Published Friday, October 9, 2015 12:23PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, October 9, 2015 6:36PM EDT
MONTREAL -- An NDP government would make trade talks more transparent, reform the electoral system and ban bulk water exports, according to the party's full policy platform released Friday.
The party is trying to capitalize on criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership talks -- including from U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton -- as it promises to make participation in international negotiations more open.
"Stephen Harper has failed to get the best deal for Canada and Justin Trudeau is ready to go along with him," NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said.
The New Democrats are also acknowledging the surplus they had previously forecast for their first budget could be cut in half, if economic growth is much slower than the finance department has assumed.
The party's policy platform, released in Montreal, also proposes a ban on bulk water exports across international boundaries -- a move designed to counter Liberal party claims that Mulcair once supported the practice as a Quebec cabinet minister.
The 72-page platform, which Mulcair said would help him build "the Canada of our dreams," broadly outlines all of the campaign pledges the NDP has made so far in their quest to form government after Oct. 19.
Its release coincides with the start of voting at advance polls over the long weekend and marks the beginning of a 10-day period of intense campaigning leading up to election day.
But the document also includes a new "sensitivity analysis," which incorporates the most recent projections from the parliamentary budget office.
In its costing document released earlier in the election campaign, the New Democrats had promised to balance the federal budget in fiscal 2016-17 and predicted a $4.1 billion surplus for the year.
The new platform includes a projection made in July by the PBO, which forecast a $2.4 billion surplus, based on the Bank of Canada's July Monetary Policy Report.
Most of the NDP's promises have been highlighted by the party over the last few years while the party was official Opposition.
These policies include a pledge to give the information commissioner the power to force departments to release information to the public and to eliminate excessive fees above $5 charged by the government to access information.
The New Democrats have also resurrected plans to pass a new Consumer Protection Act that would, among other things, cap ATM fees at 50 cents a transaction and create a gasoline ombudsman to investigate complaints about prices at the pump.
As well, the party wants to bring in a mixed-member, proportional representation voting system and is committing to ensuring Canadians living abroad have the right to vote.
It also promises to phase out interest on all federal student loans.
Shortly after releasing the platform, Mulcair voted in an advance poll in his Outremont riding in Montreal, where he encouraged other Canadians to get out early to vote.
"It's really important for people to know they have all Thanksgiving long weekend to vote," said Mulcair.
"I love getting people to vote early. (Then) we can concentrate on getting everyone else out on the 19th."