What you should know about the major Canadian parties before voting

A roundup of each party's key platform points to help you become an educated student voter

Although it can be hard to keep up with politics as a busy student, it's important to make time to become an educated voter.

Canadians across the country will hit the polls on Oct. 21 to elect the country’s 43rd parliament.  

As busy students, it can be hard to keep track of each party’s plans if they’re elected. To help you on your journey to becoming an educated voter, I compiled brief overviews of the stances of Canada’s four major parties.

It’s hard to cover everything, so we’ll focus here on the student-centred aspects of the parties’ platforms, including their goals for education, jobs and skills training, and the environment.

Liberal Party

Let’s start off with the current government running for re-election: the Liberal Party.

Finishing off his first term of highs and lows, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals are heading into this election with a platform prioritizing small businesses, banning single-use plastics, and investing in health care.

To support the growth of small businesses and move the Canadian economy forward, the Liberals are proposing a Canada Entrepreneur Account. The account would provide up to 2,000 entrepreneurs a year with as much as $50,000 to launch their businesses, as well as a $250 support services voucher for businesses trying to expand online.

They also plan to eliminate fees like the “swipe fee” on HST and GST credit transactions.

When it comes to environmental policy, the party hopes to ban “harmful” single-use plastic, effective as early as 2021. This is a plastic pollution policy already adopted by the European Union and various countries around the world.

Finally, the party has committed to investing $6 billion over four years as a “down payment” to improve access to family doctors and mental health care, along with instituting a national pharma care program.

Conservative Party

Across the aisle, the Conservative Party of Canada, led by Opposition Leader Andrew Scheer, is offering a platform filled with points ranging from environmental policy to immigration changes.  

To tackle the climate crisis, the party proposes setting emission standards for major pollution emitters as opposed to the Liberal’s carbon tax. These standards would require large-scale polluters to invest in private-sector research and green technology development.

Scheer and the Conservatives also want to reintroduce the Green Public Transit Tax Credit to reduce the cost of public transportation.

To curb illegal border crossings at unofficial entry points, the party wants to renegotiate the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US to close “loopholes” they’ve stated are remaining in the agreement. Within this policy, the two countries designate each other as “safe” and establish that refugee claimants should seek asylum in whichever of the two countries they arrive in first.

The party is also running on a platform of balancing the budget in five years, reducing taxes on the lowest income bracket by 10 per cent, eliminating GST from home heating and energy bills, and increasing the federal contribution to Registered Education Savings Plans (RESPs) by 20 per cent.

Green Party

The Green Party, led by Elizabeth May, has seen unprecedented popularity over the past few years as the climate crisis has become a bigger issue than ever. However, there’s more to their platform than just environmental policy.

The Green Party is championing accessible education by advocating to eliminate tuition for all post-secondary education and forgive all existing student debt from the federal portion of loans. They also plan on lowering the voting age across the country to 16, allowing youth to get involved in our democratic process earlier. They also plan on raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.

In an effort to make affordable and safe housing a legally protected fundamental right for all Canadians, the Green Party wants to develop a National Housing Strategy.

Finally, some of their environmental policies include doubling the emissions target agreed upon at the Paris Accords and creating a Canadian Sustainable Generations Fund to invest in green trades, apprenticeships, and education for a more sustainable economy.

New Democratic Party

Last, but not least, the New Democratic Party (NDP) led by Jagmeet Singh addresses student debt and housing, among other topics.

The NDP has proposed mitigating student debt by eliminating the current interest on the federal portion of student loans. In the future, they want to decrease the size of student loans by making  Canada Student Grants more accessible.

Their platform tackles housing issues with a plan to create 500,000 new affordable home units. They also propose doubling the first-time homebuyers’ tax credit to $15,000, helping people buy their first homes.

Their platform aims to close the wealth gap through wage and tax policies. They want to increase taxes on the wealthiest Canadians. They plan to introduce a “super-wealth tax” which will put a one per cent tax on fortunes over $20 million. Like the Green Party, they also plan to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour.


These platforms reflect top concerns for Canadians, from the climate crisis to affordability of daily life. However, these are only promises for now, until you vote for what you believe is best for the country.

Exercise your democratic right, and vote on campus on Oct. 21 in the ARC.

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