It’s a big electoral world out there, and in Ontario there are 13 parties registered to run candidates in the Oct. 6 election.
While the Big Three – Liberals, Progressive Conservatives and NDP – are likely to generate all of the headlines in the coming weeks, there are people all over the province trying to get some traction for their alternative platforms.
Here’s a summary of what each party would like to see happen in Ontario – a wide range of ideas including shorter work weeks, a ban on nuclear development, a guaranteed right to use incandescent light bulbs and an alphabetical seating plan at Queen’s Park to ensure like-minded politicians don’t spend their days scheming with each other.
Communist Party of Canada (Ontario)
Leader: Elizabeth Rowley
The party doesn’t exactly have a platform on its site. But it does have a 17-page memo put together after its convention that highlights its thinking. Highlights include “fair trade instead of free trade,” nationalizing the auto makers so they can be retooled to build transit machinery, reducing the workweek to 32 hours, increasing minimum wage to $16 an hour, boosting Employment Insurance to 90 per cent of previous earnings and overhaul the tax regime (“Tax the greedy, not the needy! Axe the HST and retail sales taxes!”).
Family Coalition Party of Ontario
Leader: Phil Lees
Self-described as the “only provincial political party created to strengthen the building blocks of society... the family,” the Family Coalition Party would like to encourage families to attend what amount to professional development courses. It would also like to provide full funding for only “medically necessary procedures,” and implement “community-driven life-respecting solutions that support women and their partners in crisis pregnancy.” The section on how it would balance the budget is listed as “still to come.”
Freedom Party of Ontario
Leader: Paul McKeever
The Freedom Party seems to support, er, freedom. Among its campaign pledges is a vow to “cancel the 2012 ban on incandescent light bulbs,” because people should be free to choose whatever light bulb will best suit their budget. People should also be free to drive 120 kilometres an hour on the province’s 400-series highways – the party argues the current speed limits were brought in as conservation measure during the 1970s and shouldn’t be maintained.
Green Party of Ontario
Leader: Mike Schreiner
Emboldened by Elizabeth May’s federal victory, the party promises to run its largest Ontario campaign ever on five key points – jobs, energy, food, health and good government. It would like to lower taxes on families to stimulate job creation, balance the budget by 2015, oppose the construction of new nuclear power plants, create case workers to help seniors manage the healthcare system and eliminate corporate and union donations to political parties.
New Democratic Party of Ontario
Leader: Andrea Horwath
The party hopes to ride some of the momentum generated by the federal NDP, which unexpectedly swept Quebec on its way to forming the Official Opposition. The party has promised to freeze child care fees and keep spaces open, and is focusing on northern development with its pledge to amend the mining act so resources extracted from the ground in the province could not be exported unless they were processed in the province.
Northern Ontario Heritage Party
Leader: Edward Deibel
A party with a singular focus, the party refers to the “political revolt” that is gripping Northern Ontario as it watches its resources being plundered. The party wants to see the ridings redrawn so the north has more seats in Queen’s Park, a northern first nations MPP and the formation of the northern ministry of natural resources as well as a “Northern Ontario caucus whose mandate is to support the interests of Northern Ontario residents.”
Ontario Liberal Party
Leader: Dalton McGuinty
After two majorities, Mr. McGuinty is fighting to get back in front in the polls. In the platform released this week, the party promises to increase GO Train service for commuters into Toronto, effectively reduce university and college tuition by 30 per cent and a tax-credit worth $10,000 for any business that hires a “highly skilled” immigrant. The party would also provide $60-million to fund house calls by doctors.
Ontario Libertarian Party
The party says its “mission is to enable endless possibilities through recognition of, respect for, and protection of individual liberty.” One of its key positions is that bureaucracy is bad, so it would like to eliminate the licensing of doctors and deregulate the health system. It also wants to reduce taxes by getting government out of non-core services such as libraries, swimming pools, tennis courts and also, um, opera houses.
Ontario Provincial Confederation of Regions Party
This leaderless party is based in Hamilton, and doesn’t have a website. It has ran in the past on a platform of eliminating funding for multiculturalism, protecting farmland from urban sprawl and reconsidering the provision of French services in the province.
Party for People with Special Needs
Leader: Danish Ahmed
Visitors to this party’s website are greeted by a Blogger homepage explaining how tax credits work should one decide to support the party. It’s signed: Love, The Party for People with Special Needs. Its main issue seems to be that tax credits expire after 10 years, which it thinks is unreasonable. It would also like to figure out “where street people come from.”
People First Republic Party of Ontario
Leader: Trueman Tuck
Sometimes its best to let the literature speak for itself: “Most supporters of our Party believe that as the sons and daughters of our creator/god we must actively participate in the daily political processes of our local, regional, territorial, national and international government corporations. Our party does believe that our god /creator wanted human beings to witness their believes in active political participation.”
Progressive Conservative Party of Ontario
Leader: Tim Hudak
The party released its platform in the spring, and everyone seized on its plan to have prisoners set free on day passes to clean ditches and cut grass. But there is other stuff in there too – including removing the HST from heating bills, lower income taxes and remodeling the apprenticeship program to create 200,000 positions over the next four years.
Reform Party of Ontario
Leader: Bradley Harness
The party’s “Purple Book of Policy” is actually a 14-page Google Doc, but it does speak a lot about democratic reform. The party would like to see free votes on everything that comes up in the legislature and would like to also introduce binding referendums on major decisions (to win a referendum one would need 66 per cent plus one). And to break down party politics, MPPs would be seated alphabetically rather than with their compatriots.