Elections are kind of like dead-beat lovers: they come in with a lot of fanfare, overstay their welcome and make a lot of promises they can’t keep. In the end, we’re left standing in the mess they made, throwing out flyers and glowering at abandoned campaign posters lining our lampposts. Meanwhile, Parliament is back in action, and Canadians are sitting around wondering, “whatever happened to all those things you promised?”
Let’s take a look at some of the campaign promises we’ve seen: the Conservatives continue to be the gatekeepers of the economy, the NDP wants $15-a-day daycare and half a million dollars to accessible health care, the Liberals propose a 33% tax on the wealthy and $125 billion over ten years for infrastructure, and the Green Party has thrown free tuition and (shockingly) less dependence on fossil fuels into the mix.
But with the election gunning a tight three-way race to the end, will any party actually succeed in fulfilling their promises to the people?
The way parliamentary democracy works, if any party wins with a minority, then they will need to work with the other parties to pass legislation. This can be in the form of short-term alliances, formal coalitions, or just free voting. Even budgets must be passed by the House of Commons—failing to pass the budget would be considered a vote of non-confidence, which would trigger another federal election.
In these conditions, will any party be able to follow through on their promises? Already, many of their plans feel impossibly grand in scale. While it’s unlikely that anyone will be seeing a Green government in October, paying for free tuition while also shutting down the tar sands has many raising their eyebrows; where would the money come from? The NDP’s $15-a-day daycare has many concerned, and the Tories have often accused the NDP of being loose with their finances. Meanwhile, the Liberals are throwing out mutli-billion dollar figures, sending sticker shock rumbling through the electorate. All the while the Conservatives are touting their new $1.9 billion surplus figure—one that many say was achieved by cutting spending to seniors, veterans, and by a conveniently-timed sale of government General Motors stocks right before the election.
Sweet dreams are made of these, voters. A healthy dose of skepticism, especially in the voting booth, goes a lot farther than you’d think.