NDP platform pledges 'immediate action'
Tory candidate Moore blasts party's plan, saying it would 'hurt families'
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 platform would balance the budget by hiking corporate tax rates to 19.5 per cent, which is estimated to put nearly $10 billion into government coffers by 2014-15. The party would also raise revenue by ending fossil fuel subsidies and saving on crime legislation.
The party also pledged to crack down on offshore tax havens, a move it says could generate more than $3 billion per year by 2014-15.
"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 announced 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."
HST deal for Quebec 'question of fairness'
Layton, who has been a vocal critic of the harmonized sales tax, also pledged a $2.2-billion compensation package for Quebec for implementing the HST.
"It's simply a question of fairness," Layton said when asked about the apparent about-face at a news conference following the budget announcement.
"When you're dealing with the finances of the nation and the respect for the citizens of different parts of the country who find themselves in different situations ... it's true that compensation is warranted."
Layton also said an NDP government would not require British Columbia to repay $1.6 billion in HST transfers, which has already been spent on health care and education, even if voters in that province reject the harmonized sales tax in an upcoming referendum.
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 also pledged to expand care for seniors, including increasing funding for forgivable loans to help keep seniors in their homes, helping families retrofit their homes to create secondary suites for senior family members and addressing the shortage of long-term care beds.
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.
Platform hurts families: Conservatives
Conservative candidate James Moore blasted the NDP's platform Sunday, saying the party's platform is ill-conceived and does not serve the interests Canadians.
"What we see today in the NDP's platform is clearly a platform that's designed to raise taxes, hurt Canadian families and in the long term, to make it easy for a coalition government to happen," Moore said.
"This is the smallest platform of the national parties, it has the least amount of detail in the platform."
Moore accused the NDP of being a party focused on higher taxes and a coalition government.
"It contains some of the usual failed, tired NDP ideas. The NDP ideas of raising taxes, of making government bigger and taking the country in a direction that will not serve all … Canadians."
Moore said the platform is not designed for "a modern Canada, with low taxes and a balanced budget by 2015."
Final party platform release
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.