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Some voters looking for a change from the governing Liberals may be tempted to vote Conservative. And to be sure, punishing the Liberals for their arrogance, corruption and privatization agenda is a worthy goal.

But the Conservatives’ plans would fail CUPE members, and all Canadians. A Stephen Harper government would further privatize health care, dash the hopes for a real child care program, undermine education and reward the wealthy with tax breaks that would force more spending cuts.

Health care:

Conservatives are pushing for privatized and for-profit health care, calling it the “Third Way” or “innovative.” Conservative Leader Stephen Harper has never promised to prevent the growth of privatization within the public system. In fact, he congratulated the Liberals for their 2003 health accord because it contains “no restrictions on private health care delivery within the public system,” and it allows for “flexibility of delivery options with the public health care system.” The Conservatives continue to stand for a fractured, privatized and more expensive American-style health care system that would favour those with the ability to pay over the health care needs of all Canadians.

Child care:

The Conservatives would prevent the creation of a pan-Canadian, public and not-for-profit child care system. Harper instead advocates “choice”: allowing parents to “choose” to not work because they can’t find adequate and affordable child care arrangements. His election platform includes giving parents $25 per week towards child care. This would do nothing to ease the child care burden on working parents. Harper’s opposition to a real child care program is deeply ideological, seeking to keep women at home with the kids and not pursuing their own careers. True, some women freely choose that, but many do not and have been fighting for a national child care program for decades. A Conservative government would set them back even more.


The average debt load for undergraduate students is now estimated at a daunting $28,000, but the Conservatives would pile even more debt on to the burden. They advocate “income contingent” loans, a regressive funding model that makes lower-income people pay more than those who can pay their loans back faster. Such loan schemes promise to lend you all the money you need to pay sky-high tuition. This policy is particularly bad for women who usually make lower wages than men. The Conservatives’ tax measures will do virtually nothing to address the complex problems facing students and universities.


The Conservatives have pledged to reduce the GST (a tax they created) if they form the government. They’re trying to buy your vote, but the benefit will go to those with higher incomes. In fact, the whole emphasis of cutting taxes in the name of helping individuals undermines the ability of government to maintain strong public services that benefit all Canadians, no matter what their income level. Investments in infrastructure, education, child care and other services will do more to increase productivity and improve the economy than more tax cuts for the rich. The real problem is that workers have had almost no real wage increases in the past five years, despite the rising costs of tuition, public transit and other services. And a Harper government, by increasing privatization and restricting unions, would keep workers’ wages low.

Harper: Standing up for a meaner Canada

While Harper has taken great pains to appear moderate this time around, make no mistake: he is steeped in hard right-wing ideology and social conservatism that would make a meaner and more unequal Canada. Harper doesn’t even believe in the fundamental role of government to provide public services for all.

Some people in the media are already speculating about who would sit in Harper’s cabinet, including Stockwell Day, right-wing pit-bull Jason Kenney, and former Mike Harris cronies Jim Flaherty and John Baird.

For a better change, vote positive. The best way to create a Parliament that works for people is to elect as many NDP MPs as possible. This is the best way to hold the Liberals to account.

Watch the second set of election debates, live from Montreal:

English-language, Monday, Jan. 9, 8 PM EST
French-language, Tuesday, Jan. 10, 8 PM EST

See what the Canadian Labour Congress is saying about the election.