Sunday, April 10, 2011

NDP pledges 'immediate action' in 5 key areas

NDP pledges 'immediate action' in 5 key areas

NDP Leader Jack Layton delivers a speech during a rally Saturday, April 9, 2011 in Saskatoon, Sask. Layton released the party's platform in Toronto on Sunday. 

The NDP says it would take "immediate action" in five key areas within 100 days of the election, as part of a broader platform aimed at balancing the books by 2014-2015 without major service cuts.

NDP Leader Jack Layton said the "practical, affordable plan" would eliminate the deficit without major service cuts. The party says it would do this by hiking corporate tax rates to 19.5 per cent, stopping fossil fuel subsidies, cracking down on tax havens and saving on crime legislation.

"Despite what they say, Stephen Harper and Michael Ignatieff are telling Canadian families to wait at the back of the line," Layton told a crowd of supporters after the NDP platform was unveiled Sunday morning.

The platform outlined five "practical" first steps, many of which were outlined earlier in the campaign, including:
Hiring more doctors and nurses.
Working with the provinces to strengthen the pension systems, with the eventual goal of doubling benefits.
Giving small businesses a tax cut and introducing targeted job-creation tax credits.
Capping credit card fees at prime plus 5 per cent, while taking federal sales tax off home heating.
Working to "fix" Ottawa to stop scandals and encourage co-operation between parties.

"I've laid out my commitment," Layton said. "Real action within 100 days to give your family a break, and I won't stop until the job is done."

The platform included a number of previously announced commitments, including help for family caregivers, a defence policy that prioritizes ships for Canada's navy instead of fighter jets, and a crime prevention and community safety program that would cost roughly $255 million.

It also includes plans to create more affordable housing, reduce poverty and improve access to child care and post-secondary education.

The NDP said it would put a price on carbon through a cap-and-trade system, with revenue from the new system to go to green initiatives.

The party also returned Sunday to the theme of "fixing" a broken system in Ottawa, saying it would work to abolish the Senate and restrict the prime minister’s power to prorogue Parliament.

"I think so many people just shake their head at what they see going on in Ottawa," Layton said.

"We've got to reform our democracy, and that means working towards some form of proportional representation in our country, and we’re committed to that."

The NDP won roughly 18 per cent of the popular vote in the last election and are hoping to make gains this time around. Layton has been positioning himself as a solid alternative to Conservative Leader Stephen Harper at campaign stops across the country.

Final party platform release

The Conservatives, Liberals and Green Party have already released their platforms.

The Conservative election platform included pledges to eliminate the federal deficit by 2014-15 — a year earlier than forecast in its March 22 budget.

When he unveiled the Conservative platform in Mississauga, Ont., Harper said he would find efficiencies through a strategic and operating expense review.

He also said the Conservatives would also push both a tough-on-crime agenda and support for families and businesses.

The Liberals focused on families in their platform, laying out five priority areas in their $8 billion two-year strategy.

The Liberal platform included support for early childhood education, post-secondary students and people caring for elderly parents or sick relatives. It also included changes to the pension system and a green renovation tax credit.

The Green Party said it would raise corporate taxes to 2009 levels and charge $60 per tonne of carbon emitted — but they promised a revenue-neutral "green tax shift" that would cut EI and CPP contributions for both workers and employers.