Canada’s Federal Election: Comparing the Party Platforms

While industrial policy has played a minimal role in the federal election campaign – particularly with all three platforms released so late in the game – in the lead-up to Election Day on Monday, we wanted to highlight some of the policy differences between the parties. Download and share our quick reference guide to the platforms.

How the Parties Stack Up

Looking at the range of policies included in each document, the platforms as a whole do not fall cleanly on the right/left divide of the political spectrum.  The clearest point of policy contention has centred on balanced budgets: on the one side – and on different ends of the ideological spectrum – the Conservatives and the New Democrats have both pledged to balance the federal books for the next four years.  On the other side, the Liberals maintain the need for deficit spending until 2019/20.

Taxes: In terms of priorities, the New Democrats pledge to increase the corporate income tax rate from 15% to 17% as their first piece of government legislation, which both the Liberals and the Conservatives oppose. The NDP would also legislate a $15 per hour minimum wage for federally-regulated industries by the end of 2019.

The Liberals, meanwhile, would focus on personal taxes for their first piece of legislation.  In contrast to both the NDP and the Conservatives, the Liberals committed to introducing a tax cut for middle class Canadians who earn taxable income between $44,700 and $89,401.  To help pay for it, the Liberals pledged to raise personal income taxes through the creation of a new tax bracket for top earners (those individuals earning over $200,000) of 33%, versus the current 29%.

Tax policy is central to all platforms.  While the Conservatives have committed not to increase Canada Pension Plan (CPP) payroll taxes (to the extent that they would enshrine it into “tax lock” legislation), both the NDP and the Liberals maintain they would work to increase CPP and Quebec Pension Plan contributions.  Both progressive parties have promised to reinstate the Labour Sponsored Venture Capital Corporation tax credit, which is currently scheduled to be eliminated for taxation after 2016.  The NDP and the Liberals have also committed to restricting the use of the Canadian Exploration Expense tax deduction.

Environment: On the environment, both the New Democrats and the Conservatives identified specific reduction targets for greenhouse gas emissions, while the Liberals have not announced specific national targets and maintain they would work with the jurisdictions to do so.  Changes to environmental assessment do not appear in the Conservative platform, while the NDP would strengthen assessments and regulations, and the Liberals would review the environmental assessment process as a whole.  Both the New Democrats and the Liberals committed to ending fossil fuel subsidies.

It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over

While there has been much speculation about Monday’s result, public opinion polling in Canada suffers from an imperfect track record, and the outcome is far from predetermined.  Irrespective, these policy differentiators will take on greater meaning once Canadians have cast their ballots on October 19th.


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