A discussion on party policies

Panelists representing the four major provincial parties highlight key policy points

Local candidate lawn signs on display outside Ontario Hall on Queen's Campus
Local candidate lawn signs on display outside Ontario Hall on Queen's Campus

New Democratic Party

By Michael Carlucci, ArtSci '12

Contrary to the rumour, New Democratic policy does not depend on simply raising taxes and over-spending. In fact, provincial NDP governments across Canada have the best record of balanced budgets at approximately 50 per cent.

If elected, New Democrats will pay for policy by changing priorities and putting people first.

Most important to many students is education policy. Every year the cost of education is climbing with Ontario now the most expensive province for post-secondary education.

The province currently has the highest tuition fees and the lowest per capita spending on post-secondary education in Canada.

New Democrats hear our complaints and are committed to making education more affordable by freezing tuition fees for college, undergraduate and graduate students over the next four years and eliminating the interest on the provincial portion of student loans.

Ontario’s New Democrats have a plan to make education more affordable — one that will not disappear after the election.

New Democrats will focus on getting people back to work and growing the economy by protecting and creating jobs. Following a series of no-strings-attached corporate tax giveaways — totalling $20 billion over 10 years — job-creating investments have declined. While corporations who received the tax giveaways are increasing profits, many of those same corporations increased layoffs.

New Democrats offer a solution: instead of blindly giving out no-strings-attached tax breaks to corporations, the NDP will replace them with programs and tax relief to reward job creators and cut taxes for small businesses.

Responsible spending, capping public sector CEO salaries and cutting no-strings-attached corporate giveaways is how the New Democrats can provide a platform which balances the budget by 2017-18 and costs only $3.3 billion in the fourth year.

This is compared to the $3.5 billion and $6 billion of the Liberal Party and Progressive Conservative Party respectively. Simultaneously, the NDP will invest in green energy solutions; remove the HST from hydro, home heating and gas; stop rising tuition; increase investment in frontline healthcare and offer tax credits for job creators.

The people of Ontario and the students of Queen’s University deserve a government that is working for them.

In this election, a vote for Mary Rita Holland and the Ontario New Democrats is a vote to change priorities and a change that puts people first. Michael Carlucci is acting president for the Queen’s University New Democrats.

Progressive Conservative Party

By Stuart Clark, ArtSci '14

The Ontario Progressive Conservative platform is a collection of specific policy targets designed to strengthen the province’s economic recovery while improving the quality of life and social services of all Ontarians.

Once broken down, the platform consists of three key goals: to provide new jobs and tax relief for households, to improve the services that Ontarians receive from their tax dollars and to make government efficient, accountable and innovative. Student employment has suffered extensively with the recession and while we recognize that taxes are a necessary load on society in exchange for services, it’s important to realize that taxes levied on many businesses and employers have exacerbated the student unemployment problem.

Ontario’s debt has doubled in eight years. The tax burden must be lowered to drive economic growth and help people, many of whom are students, find meaningful employment.

While much of the platform is geared towards eliminating government red tape and improving transparency, there are a few policies geared specifically towards students. For one, a Conservative government would create up to 60,000 new spaces in our post-secondary institutions. The Conservatives also pledge to reform the credit transfer program to help students move seamlessly from Advanced Placement in high schools, or other institutions, into university programs.

Ontario PC leader Tim Hudak has also promised to overhaul the archaic Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) rules to make sure the students who need financial assistance for their post-secondary education actually get money in a timely fashion.

The platform also pledges a $30 million scholarship program for Ontario students to make education even more affordable.

You might be wondering where the money for these additional services is coming from given the party’s commitment to fiscal prudence and lower taxes.

The Conservative plan for Ontario is one of measured growth and sustainability, eliminating useless committees and kickbacks in a government that has needlessly ballooned in size.

I will admit the Conservatives have not made promises as extravagant as the Liberals on education. However, the PC platform sets a realistic bar for Ontario’s next government that doesn’t cripple our economy with new levies and hikes.

Given the choice between a reduction in tuition and a job when I graduate, I don’t think there’s any contest.

Stuart Clark is secretary-treasurer for the Queen’s University Conservative Association.

Green Party

By Nancy Doucet

In 2006, Elizabeth May stepped down as executive director of Sierra Club and threw her hat in the ring to become leader of the Green Party of Canada. I had never belonged to a political party before that day in June when I turned Green. Now, five years later, I’m living in Kingston and am campaign manager for Kingston and the Islands’ Green Party candidate Robert Kiley.

The campaign has been flourishing. All-candidate debates have allowed for needed focus on important concerns. I am impressed with the thoughtfulness and insight of organizers and the level of discourse by all candidates. These conversations validate our belief in what Green Party policies will do to enhance quality of life. Robert has been stellar — his responses and his passion have been a strong force.

I’m particularly excited about the energy that I see at Queen’s. Campus is buzzing these days. My impression is that students are pumped up about voting, and that is a welcome impression. There was evidence of that buzz at the AMS debate on Sept. 19. But the question remains: what will that Oct. 6 vote — your Green vote — signify? Let’s consider Green Party energy policy. The bold first step that the Green Party of Ontario advocates is to stop building new nuclear power plants. Nuclear energy is dirty energy. It is unsustainable on all fronts — economic, social and environmental. When a life-cycle approach is considered, which is an underlying principle for Green Party policy, nuclear doesn’t make the cut in a 21st century energy regime. Building nuclear facilities produces unacceptable greenhouse gas emissions. Then there are the safety concerns of transporting and disposing of toxic waste.

The creation of high value and stimulating jobs is also a priority. Why not be bold here in Kingston and the Islands and attract venture capital in order to keep our graduates in the community to live, work and play? On education, Green Party policy calls for a freeze on tuition and increases in grants and scholarships. Affordable housing will help us work towards reducing poverty and improving quality of life. As the Green Party candidate for Kingston and the Islands, Robert Kiley has said the Green Party views our choices through a life-cycle lens. This lens considers environmental, social and economic factors. Students at Queen’s University have the ability and the power to shape a sustainable future.

How Green is my campus? I think it will be much greener after Oct. 6.

Nancy Doucet is campaign manager for Kingston and the Islands Green Party nominee Robert Kiley.

Liberal Party

By Kyle Richardson, ArtSci '12

After taking office, the Ontario Liberal government led by Dalton McGuinty made post-secondary education a priority.

In 2003, Liberals froze tuition prices, doubled student assistance funding, added a textbook and technology grant and invested $4 billion in campuses over eight years.

Neither of the preceding NDP and PC provincial governments improved the quality of education for Ontario students.

The Liberal government will provide the most funding of any party to Canadian students while protecting the diversity of education.

The NDP led by Andrea Horwath offer little for post-secondary education. Horwath’s voting record shows her lack of dedication to students. In 2005, she voted against a budget that promised to invest $6.2 billion in universities and colleges and increase financial aid.

According to the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance, the NDP has no plan to improve the accessibility, quality or mobility of education. Meanwhile, the Canadian Federation of Students notes that in their current cost breakdown, the NDP have forgotten the $1 billion in education funding promised to students. The promises and budget of the NDP don’t add up.

After eight years, we have seen results from the Liberal’s investment in education. In Ontario, 64 per cent of adults now have post-secondary degrees (compared to the U.S. at 41 per cent).

This means that if you compare Ontario to the 34 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the province leads in post-secondary degrees per capita. The Liberals also created 200,000 new spaces for students.

A Liberal government would create 60,000 new spots in post-secondary institutions as well as invest in three new satellite campuses. Moreover, McGuinty will continue government grants for lower-income families.

In addition, he has promised to provide a 30 per cent tuition grant to students from middle-class families. For over 80 per cent of students that means they will get $1,600 back from their tuition each year.

Tuition grants are not important, however, if you can’t find a job in the workforce. That’s why for students who can’t find a job after graduation, the Liberal government could reduce their loan payments to zero.

When choosing who to vote for on Oct. 6 look at the party platforms and decide who is really going to put students first.

Kyle Richardson is policy director for the Queen’s University Liberal Association.

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