CPC Leadership: Five Best Policies
There isn't much time left in the Conservative leadership race. Time has been flying and it seems like just yesterday that Michael Chong, Kellie Leitch and Maxime Bernier were the only declared candidates. Now, there is just under three months left until party members cast their votes on a ranked ballot to determine the winner out of 14 candidates. All major scientific polls have contradicted each other and Poletical's leadership tracker shows no clear winner, meaning that this race hasn't changed much in the past six months. Members seem conflicted and indecisive, which could drag the race into a third round and crown a winner who never had the support of a strong majority. At a time when we have no idea who the next leader will be, we do have some excellent policy proposals that should be adopted by the Conservative Party regardless of who wins the leadership.
In my opinion, these are the five best policies presented by leadership candidates so far.
5. A Flat Rate Income Tax
I'd prefer to see income taxes abolished in favour of a larger consumption tax, but it would be hard to trust any politician to create a smooth transition from one to another without getting stuck with both taxes. The flat rate has been proposed by more than one candidate in the race, but Maxime Bernier led the charge early on in his campaign with something similar. The most commonly suggested flat rate is 15%, which would cover all incomes and drive liberals crazy by creating real equality.
Most of the candidates have varying ideas, but a lot of their proposals involve a flat, or almost flat, income tax rate across the board. If a flat rate is adopted by the Conservative Party in the next election, we should expect progressives to light their hair on fire and rip their pants off in rage. However, we'll have to ignore them, because a flat tax is a step in the right direction.
4. Abolishing the CRTC
One of Maxime Bernier's best promises is to abolish the CRTC. No other candidate in the race has promised anything similar. To parties on the left of the spectrum, the CRTC is a sacred cow that protects Canadian culture, protects Canada's telecommunications industry and breaks people's knees when they fall out of line. Without it, scary things would happen.
Without the CRTC, foreign internet and service providers would have better access to Canada's market. The competition, which the CRTC is designed to prevent, would lower consumer costs and increase choice in the telecommunications industry. To the chagrin of liberals, it would also threaten to put cherished, poor quality companies like Telus and Rogers out of business. Without the CRTC, Canadian companies could be destroyed by competition from other countries. To any reasonable consumer, lower cellphone bills are more important than the national origin of a company. The location of a company's headquarters doesn't matter to Canadians, which is why Tim Horton's continues to be a national treasure, despite being owned by a Brazilian. It's why companies like Wal-Mart and McDonalds have thrived in Canada.
Abolishing the CRTC would also eliminate the requirement imposed on Canadian broadcasters to produce a certain percentage of Canadian content. Another thing Canadians don't care about is their own television shows. Canadian television shows are the lowest rated programs in Canada and they rarely survive for longer than five years.
3. Screening For Canadian Values
Despite all the feigned confusion, outrage and head scratching over what Canadian values are, Kellie Leitch's proposal to screen immigrants and refugees for Canadian values is one the best and most popular policies in the race. Every scientific opinion poll conducted since Leitch made her announcement has shown that an overwhelming majority of Canadians support it.
It turns out that Canadians not only know what Canadian values are, they also share them. Much of what we call Canadian values are similar to values shared in other liberal democracies around the world. They include equality under the law, freedom and the right to vote. Confused progressives have suggested that public healthcare should be included as a Canadian value, but they're missing the point. Public healthcare is not a Canadian value, but rather a product of Canadian values. Through our shared value of democracy, public healthcare is a service granted by our right to vote. Canadian Values are a series of encompassing principles, not specific policies.
Canadian values can be tested and identified among refugees and immigrants. This is another area where opponents act confused, but it's a simple idea. As Kellie Leitch has suggested, her government would increase the number of face-to-face interviews involved in the screening process. Currently, between 20-25% of immigrants are interviewed face-to-face by skilled officers. Those numbers can and should be significantly increased.
2. Repealing Hate Speech Laws
The most important part of any liberal democracy is free speech. Canada's archaic hate speech laws enshrined in the Human Rights Act and criminal code hinder our right to speak freely by vaguely defining what qualifies as “hateful” speech. In 1990, the Supreme Court ruled that harsh criticism can be considered and prosecuted under Canada's existing hate speech laws as “hate propaganda”. (Canada v. Taylor, 1990)
Every year, hundreds of Canadians are charged under Canada's hate speech laws for speaking. In many cases, their speech does not advocate for genocide or murder as cited in Section 319 as grounds for prosecution. Those convicted of hate speech rarely face prison time, but they do acquire hefty penalties and criminal records.
The only candidate in the Conservative leadership race that has openly suggested repealing Canada's hate speech laws is Michael Chong. The fact is, free speech breeds change. When people are given the right to speak freely, they're given the ability to incite change. That change is sometimes labelled “hateful” by opponents, which is why such vague laws cannot justifiably exist in a liberal democracy. In 2017, hate speech has become a broad term that includes anything and everything that people with differing views don't like. This makes Canada's current hate speech laws extremely dangerous.
1. Capping Government Spending
Governments grow in size by spending our money. As inflation and employment rates fluctuate, tax revenue fluctuates with them. The bigger a government gets, the more unsustainable it gets. This is just common knowledge. Few governments in Canadian history have bothered to legally restrain their own abilities to spend, tax, and grow. Therefore, a cap on government spending would be one of the best things that could happen.
A legal cap on how much a government can spend would automatically slow the growth of government. It might also reduce the need to increase taxes over time, as well as control deficits. Kellie Leitch's campaign originally proposed a cap on spending, but with little detail about how vast and binding it would be. The best cap would be as legally binding as possible and be enforced as stringently as possible. Of course, there are limits on how a cap on spending could be legislated and enforced.
At the root of all government growth and intervention is spending. Capping or stalling spending is one of the most conservative ways to limit growth and taxes. Rather than relying on whims and judgement, a legislated cap on spending would be the most effective approach to stalling government growth and runaway spending. This policy is the most important and most valuable policy proposal of the Conservative leadership race so far, in my opinion. Along with the various tax cuts that have been proposed, capping spending would be a vital policy for any future Conservative government to adopt.