On Tuesday night at our PolitiCoast Election Night Party and Politics Pub night (which was a lot of fun and everyone reading this should definitely come out to the next one), several people asked how I was going to be voting. I have also been asked by a few people who are new members to the party and aren’t familiar with entire clown car of a candidates list, to give my thoughts on who is running and offer my suggestions on a ranking. And that is understandable, I run a politics podcast and occasional blog and I have trouble remembering everyone in the race and what their positions are. Ian and I did a full episode dedicated to this topic but if you don’t have an hour and a half to spare listening to it this post should give a brief run down.
For those who aren’t aware, the vote is done by ranked ballot. There are 14 names on the ballot (Kevin O’Leary dropped out after the ballots were mailed out) and members get to rank up to 10. The method of counting is a complicated riding allocated points system but the simple version is the last place candidate gets knock out and their votes go to their supporters’ next choice until someone gets greater than 50% of the points.
- Michael Chong: This pick isn’t going to surprise anyone. I have been supportive of him both on the podcast, on social media and in real life. I wrote a full blog post on why I believe he is the right person to lead the Conservative Party and possibly the country in the 21st century. The condensed version is Michael Chong is a smart, knowledgeable policy wonk, with a very solid platform on climate change, the economy and democratic reform. Is the only candidate to back a carbon tax, and not a small one either. Chong’s plan is an ambitious $130/tonne revenue neutral carbon tax modeled on BC’s. Not only does one have to have a lot of political courage to run in the current CPC on a pro-carbon tax platform but his goes well above and beyond what Trudeau’s or any other mainstream political leader is proposing. He also running on a major democratic reform platform to increase the independence of MPs and scale back the power of party leaders and the PMO. Electoral reform is needed in this country but it is only part of the reforms needed to improve our democracy. Improving the selection of MPs does little good if their ability to represent their constituents is neutered when they get to Ottawa. He is socially moderate, is the only candidate not to stay level headed around the non-issue that was M-103 and wants to reach out beyond the traditional conservative base. He is only one to recognize the CPC’s deficiencies and is working to correct them.
- Deepak Obhrai: If I am going to be completely honest, he shouldn’t get 2nd billing but he has been incredibly entertaining to watch throughout the seemingly endless series of debates. He is likely to get knocked out round 1 so I am kind of throwing him a bone by giving him the number 2 rank on my ballot. And his emails have been AMAZING. In terms of policy he is running on expanding the party, reaching out to immigrants (like himself) expanding Canada’s nuclear power sector to reduce emissions from the energy sector.
- Erin O’Toole: Former Air Force veteran and Minister of Veterans Affairs. The only other candidate besides Chong with anything approaching a climate change plan, mostly using various tax incentives to incentivize carbon reduction. It is a pale copy of Chong’s but sadly in this leadership race that puts him miles ahead of everyone else. Considered to be from the Red Tory/ PC wing of the party he is a moderate. Policies include a much need reinvestment in the military, which has badly atrophied under successive government, investments/tax cuts to stimulate the economy and most interestingly a CANZUK free trade and movement agreement. O’Toole would pursue an agreement to allow citizens of Canada, Australia, the UK and New Zealand to live and work freely in each country. A little too much emphasis on policy by tax credits for my taste (one of the big flaws with the Harper Era changes to the tax code) but overall a solid middle of the road choice.
- Lisa Raitt: Former Transportation Minister, by all accounts a very competent administrator, but not a great campaigner. Probably better at being PM than running for PM, at least judging by the rather lackluster campaign she ran. Policy wise its a fairly boiler plate collection of modest investments in healthcare, infrastructure combined with tax cuts. Some of her policies have a little too much emphasis on the local benefits for the free trader in me but nothing that is too objectionable. I would have no problem voting for her in a general, which is more than I can say for a lot of the rest of the slate.
- Maxime Bernier: The Libertarian standard bearer and front runner. Running on ending supply management, corporate welfare, tax cuts, opening up air lines and telecoms to foreign competition, privatizing CBC, Canada Post and airports, ending provincial equalization payments and cutting the Canada Health Transfer by transferring tax points so provinces can raise the funds themselves. Bernier is a tough one as with him I feel like it’s one step forward, one step back. He has a lot of good policies that I really like. Ending supply management is a great idea. Its regressive, raises the cost of basic food staples, to line the pockets of a 11,000 producers and hurts Canada in trade negotiations. Likewise I am behind his call to end corporate subsidies and backed his opposition to the Bombardier bail outs. I am even sympathetic to the idea of ending the Canada Health Transfer as I see a system where the government that spends the money being the one that raises it is much more accountable to the citizens rather than the current situation where different levels blame the other ones and no one gets held to account. But at the same time a lot of that just goes a step too far and is too ideologically driven. Equalization is needed to keep such a regionally diverse country economically cohesive under one currency, otherwise you end up with a situation like Greece. And I am far from convinced ending the capital gains tax is the best use of resources. Plus there is the scandal from when he left classified documents at his Hell’s Angel’s affiliated girlfriend’s house. I am solidly ambivalent about Bernier.
- Rick Peterson: Businessman from Vancouver. Running on expanding immigration and shifting taxes from income to consumption (a move generally well regarded by economists). Socially moderate. Has a snowball’s chance in hell of making through the half of the eliminations during the runoff.
- Andrew Scheer: Former Speaker of the House, likely compromise candidate. Fairly light on policy. Kind of running on the continuation of the Harper legacy but with a kinder, gentler face. If you thought the problem with Harper was bad branding Scheer is your guy, if you think the problems were elsewhere, then he isn’t.
- Andrew Saxton: Vancouver businessman and former MP for North Vancouver. He lost his seat in 2015. Running on tax cuts and balanced budgets. Socially moderate but did say if economist backed an idea it would make him think twice about supporting said idea. Not big on deferring to experts. Unlikely to win the leadership and even less likely to win a general.
Who I am leaving off my ballot:
- Brad Trost: Climate change denier and social conservative. Wants to reopen abortion and same sex marriage debate.
- Kellie Leitch: The alt-right anti-elite (despite being as elite as they come). Main policy plank is “Canadian values” screening for immigrants.
- Chris Alexander: Former Canadian Ambassador. Very well respected in the foreign service but has been a major disappointment in politics. Chanted “lock her up” at a Rebel Media organized anti-Notely rally and was party of the announcement of the “barbaric cultural practices” hotline. Pro-immigration but running hard with a fear and security campaign.
- Pierre Lemieux: Former Army officer, social conservative competing with Trost for the anti-abortion and LGBT vote.
- Steve Blaney: Former Public Safety Minister. Running on using the Notwithstanding Clause to institute a Niqab ban. Pro-values testing immigrants and an oddly passionate defender of supply management.
That is a brief overview of the candidates and where I rank them. I encourage everyone to read up on the various candidates’ platforms before casting one’s vote.