Trudeau stumbles out of the gate: Election roundup #1
The Left Chapter's first election roundup.
Image via twitter.
As the first two weeks of the grand farce that is the 2021 federal election in Canada come to an end, The Left Chapter is doing the first of its weekly election roundups looking at the developments to date.
The beginning of the election has been marked, among other things, by random number capitalist housing "plans", the Liberals looking like they may have miscalculated on the election call, an NDP campaign unusually high on pseudo-left hyperbole, some farcical moves by the Conservatives and, frankly, nothing much of interest from the Greens who are now actually polling at slightly lower numbers than the far right People's Party.
The "Unnecessary" Election:
The NDP and the Conservatives started the election by saying they didn't want one and that it was "unnecessary". In a remarkably undemocratic move that can only be seen as juvenile political theatre, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh even suggested that the Governor General should not have allowed the election, a suggestion she happily rejected.
While it may well have been a cynical move by Trudeau the anti-election rhetoric is always odd from opposition parties (and certainly hypocritical in the case of any New Democrats who did not have much to say about John Horgan doing the exact same thing provincially not long ago). After all, describing an election as a "power grab" is inane and only makes sense if you actually reject the very premise of an election. That being, of course, that the people will allegedly decide who gets power.
There is an ironic echo in this of the far right crackpots who talk about the Trudeau "dictatorship" and "tyranny". One does not have to be under any illusions about capitalist liberal democracy to understand why rhetoric like this is dangerous.
Anyway, it does say something interesting about the nature of liberal democracy that so many of its proponents regularly seem to shit on the entire process when they don't like the timing, the results or their perceived chances.
And, of course, Trudeau has kind of stumbled out of the gate so the "unnecessary election" may yet lead to his downfall perhaps in part because of hubris.
Stumbling out of the gate:
The election call does not appear to be working out quite the way the Liberals had hoped.
The CBC poll tracker shows the early momentum is with the Conservatives and, rather disturbingly, the People's Party is ahead of the Greens nationally right now.
The Usual BS:
Already the NDP-Green merger pieces. It is a bit late in the process for that this time around.
The irony of talking about "rich developers" (do they mean landlords as well?) in the very same sentence as proposing a $5,000 subsidy to them. If you give renters $5,000 to help pay the rent then that is $5,000 that will be going directly to private landlords in the vast majority of cases.
Terrible policy and rhetoric of this sort is likely directly connected to having these kinds of candidates...
The parties have also engaged in a pull-them-out-of-thin-air numbers game that all add up to the private sector building the housing. The NDP says it will "build" 500,000 units of affordable housing in ten years, the Conservatives claim one million in three years and the Liberals 1.4 million in four years. Now, none of the plans actually call for the government itself to build anything so they can say any numbers they want, but if you are buying it then I hear the Brooklyn Bridge is for sale at a very good price.
There is also a lot of scapegoating of "foreign buyers" going on:
The Communists, on the other hand, seem to have an approach that would actually bring down housing prices:
For out-of-the-gate "Buck a Beer" style bullshit, this Conservative pledge certainly takes the prize.
Despite the very narrow pocketbook populism at work here, the idea is likely to have some appeal.
The "ultrarich" NDP line:
The NDP has been adopting a more aggressively populist sounding tone when it comes to taxing the "ultrarich" though the very usage of that term shows the inherent limitations to their taxation plan.
The notion of making the "ultrarich" (note that it is not even just the rich, the NDP wanting to make it clear that they are not talking about you or anyone you know paying more taxes, not even if they are just "rich") pay more in taxes is certainly a worthwhile one. Until the day comes when we can build an economy without any "rich" or "ultrarich" it is important to try to tax the wealthy as much as possible.
But once you get past the rhetoric to what the NDP sees as the rich paying "their fair share" it is not quite as radical as it sounds.
On the plus side, their proposal to go more aggressively after corporate and wealthy tax cheats and tax avoidance loopholes is certainly a must. There is some evidence that if the government were truly committed to this (and we have to take the NDP at their word) it could result in tens of billions of dollars in new tax revenue even without raising taxes.
On the other hand, the actual tax increase on the "ultra rich" is rather modest.
The NDP says it would increase the top marginal tax rate by 2% meaning on incomes of over $216,000 a year though only on income above that line. They would introduce a 1% wealth tax on "super-rich multimillionaires with over $10 million in wealth." The corporate tax rate would increase from 15% to where it was in 2018, 18% while the "small business" tax would stay the same, which is a laugh since that tax rate is often a loophole that wealthy incorporated professionals use to avoid paying proper personal tax levels. And they would bring in a variety luxury consumption taxes. While there is nothing wrong with some of these changes, they are also not terribly radical and hardly would result in the rich "paying their fair share".
More positively they have pledged to hike the capital gains inclusion rate to 75% which would be a very positive step.
The NDP's rhetoric is getting a fan club:
But if you look at the plan the rich guy in the bathtub of money is going to have plenty of champagne (and cash) left.
Suddenly the NDP is "talking tough" about the scandalous fiasco that is the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy. As I have already pointed out in this piece, people should take this with a major grain of salt given that they were one of its architects and biggest backers and have even taken credit for it!:
White knight star NDP candidate Avi Lewis manages to post a poll in a way that is both totally misleading (it is only the numbers in BC) and embraces strategic voting!
Gotta say, I did enjoy this Unifor anti-Conservative ad.
The Communists are running!
The Communists are running 26 candidates this time on a very strong platform. I will be taking a more in-depth look at their campaign later.
Look for our next roundup in a week.