A Red Flag For Harper
With a Canadian labour force of some 18 million, most of whom can vote, a political party has to cater to the 9 million that need the help the most. Alberta's new NDP premier hit the right note by campaigning on a plan, that at the very least, made the bottom 50% of Alberta wage earners feel like they were being listened to. Under Notley's plan, 90% of tax filers would get a break from the taxes and fees that were being proposed by the PCs. She also made it clear that large profitable corporations will contribute a little more and the top 10% of income earners would contribute a little more. I'm willing to bet this is exactly what the majority of Canadian's want to hear, but aren't hearing from PM Harper.
Premier Notley also addressed the minimum wage earners. Again, addressing a low earner group and an issue that everyone is concerned about. By proposing a $15 minimum wage increase over the next 2 years, she is showing that she is willing to help those who need it most. With over 1.2 million wage earners making minimum wage in Canada, having a plan to help and recognize them wouldn't hurt. I'm sure the federal NDP will have a plan. Even though minimum wage is a provincial jurisdiction, I would suggest the conservatives have something to offer. A resounding majority of Canadians see inequality as a problem getting worse and they want a solution.
Another of Notley's platforms that resonated with Albertans emphasized education, taking some of the burden off of families that need help. Making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable and phasing in all-day kindergarten are big winners among Albertans. Again, I'm willing to bet the federal NDP will be well armed with a plan. Will the Conservatives?
The Conservatives have some good things happening, like the Universal Child Care Benefit, which provides parents with $1200 a year for each child under six, support for Canadian students with investments of more than $10 billion annually in students and education, $50 million in funding to improve on the Youth Employment plus much more. But from where I sit, the Conservatives haven't convinced a huge majority of the population (bottom 50% of the wage earners) that they're working for them. Premier Notley was right on the mark with education, taxing the wealthy and increasing minimum wage. A very simple message for the voter to understand. The message simply says that we care and have a plan. Harper's conservatives either don't realize they aren't conveying this simple message or they are simply out of touch.
No, Notley didn't win the Alberta election just because the voters wanted to get rid of the PCs. If that was the case, they could have voted Wild Rose. The fact is, 50% of Albertans have been struggling to make ends meet with no real plan to help them. Premier Notley represents hope. PM Harper is going to have too represent the same kind of hope for the 50% of Canadians that are also struggling if he hopes to win the 2015 election. I hope he can rise to the occasion.