CHANGE YOU CAN TRUST
The Progressive Conservative Plan for Canada's Future
STRENGTHENING CANADA'S COMMUNITIES
Progressive Conservatives believe that all Canadians deserve to have opportunity, to be healthy and to feel safe in their communities.
Canadians want to see their common values reflected in their social programs: self-reliance and self-sufficiency balanced by collective responsibility and compassion, investments targeted at ensuring well-educated and healthy citizens, fairness and fiscal responsibility.
Despite their overall support for the values represented in our social programs, Canadians are increasingly skeptical of piecemeal solutions. They want a more comprehensive approach to social problems. They want to see the objectives of self-reliance and self-sufficiency given greater priority in social programs. They also recognize that our evolving federal system has resulted in a patchwork of overlapping and often inefficient programs.
The Progressive Conservative Party’s approach to social programs is guided by the following principles:
· affordability, effectiveness, accountability and clarity of purpose;
· support for individual self-reliance and self-sufficiency as well as individual responsibility in the larger community;
· income support based on need;
· flexibility, responsiveness and reasonable comparability across the country in order to reflect provincial/territorial needs and priorities while ensuring the mobility of people;
· management and delivery of programs by those closest to the people being served, with respect to the constitutional jurisdiction of the provinces; and
· basic standards to be co-operatively and collaboratively negotiated between the federal government and the provinces/territories to ensure healthy, well-educated and self-sufficient citizens.
Citizens want to know that they can count on health care when they need it. Under the current government, they fear they are losing an essential part of their Canadian citizenship that provides security and peace of mind, and distinguishes us from our neighbours.
Health care in the new millennium must continue to rest on the twin pillars of access and quality. It must be people-oriented, empathetic, and a caring response to human needs.
Federal cuts in cash transfer payments created a critical revenue shortfall for the provinces and territories which has accelerated the need for system adjustments and has seriously challenged the ability of provinces and territories to maintain current services.
Accessible health care is a core value of Canadians. It is too central to our way of life to be held hostage to the political demands of the moment.
We need an approach that will secure the future of health care--a system that respects the principles of the Canada Health Act, and will give provinces and the people they serve--predictability and stability. Provinces have the know-how and the mechanisms to assess the needs of their populations, to set targets for the mix of services they want to achieve and set priorities accordingly. In the future, more and more, outpatient care will be substituted for inpatient care. Chronic care will be provided in day treatment or homecare settings. Home care is being used successfully in many provinces, and, in most cases, is not only more cost-effective, but also provides better care for the patient.
But while predictable, stable funding is vital to the long-term sustainability of Canada’s health system, the system itself must change to meet the needs and demands of a changing population. Those changes should focus on better integration of population health, public health, health services delivery, and health research. In turn, such integration will help generate new solutions focussed on the “non-medical” determinants of health, health research, injury prevention, health promotion and education, rehabilitation and the treatment of chronic diseases (e.g. cancer, AIDS, heart disease).
Injecting more money into the system must go hand-in-hand with a clear plan of action that would:
· focus on the ends that we want from our health system, not just the current debate on means, and
· build on the foundation of the core principles of the Canada Health Act as well as the many strengths of the system.
National leadership is vital in this vision of a health system that is prepared to meet the challenges of tomorrow as well as today.
· A Progressive Conservative government would immediately restore the cash portion of the Canada Health and Social Transfer to at least 1993-94 levels.
· A Progressive Conservative government believes in a sixth principle of the Canada Health Act, that of stable funding for health care. We would guarantee a commitment to stable federal funding through appropriate legislation so that provinces can better plan to meet the health care needs of our growing and ageing population.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to develop a series of performance targets and goals for our health system as well as a system of public report cards to measure progress toward achieving these goals. Measurement of performance will be based on outcomes for patients.
· Decisions affecting health care made by a Progressive Conservative government would be made in collaboration with provincial and territorial partners. The Progressive Conservative Party recognizes that the delivery of healthcare services is essentially a provincial responsibility.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces and health professionals to encourage the development of a “Wellness Agenda” which stresses health promotion and disease prevention.
Slow access to new drug therapies puts the health and sometimes the lives of Canadians at risk. Compared to the United States, Sweden and the United Kingdom, the Canadian drug review process needs to be improved significantly with more resources and qualified personnel to meet international standards. The early availability of new medicines is important from the perspective of healthcare benefits, particularly for patients who are suffering from conditions for which there are no other medications available.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure increased priority is given within the existing departmental budget to ensuring drug reviews are performed in a timely manner in keeping with our global competitors who are conducting reviews much more quickly.
New Information Technologies:
The National Forum on Health recommended that the federal Minister of Health take a leadership role in the development of an evidence-based system built on the foundation of a nation-wide health information system. Evidence-based decision-making is the systematic application of the best available evidence to the evaluation of options and to decision-making in clinical, management and policy settings.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to develop national standards for a Canada-wide health info-system to bring a greater level of accessibility and accountability to the healthcare system.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to ensure new technologies, such as information technologies and telehealth, form part of a modernized health system.
Biotechnology and Health Concerns:
Many ethical issues are raised by biotechnology, including the commercialization and patenting of human life, the health implications of genetically-modified foods and the impact on existing plant life and ecosystems by the creation and growth of genetically-modified seeds, plants, fish and animals.
Recent public opposition to genetically modified organisms (GMOs), and foods made from genetically modified crops, cannot be ignored. Biotechnology depends for its future success upon an informed and supportive public, and measures are needed urgently to build public trust and gain the public’s confidence in the safety of the food made using genetically modified plants and animals.
· A Progressive Conservative government would initiate broader public discussion of the ethical issues of biotechnology and ensure greater public consultation in the setting of biotechnology policy and regulations.
· A Progressive Conservative government would commit to a law requiring the labelling of all genetically modified foodstuffs and products for human consumption.
· A Progressive Conservative government would continue its tradition of working closely with provincial partners, industry and the large number of consumer stakeholders interested in the question of biotechnology generally, and genetically modified organisms in particular, to find ways to reconcile and address the industry’s needs and the public’s real concerns about the health and environmental safety of genetically modified foods.
Health Care in Rural Canada:
Rural Canada is facing a shortage of physicians. It is estimated that the number of rural physicians fell to 4,140 in 1998, from 4,870 in 1994.
Many rural physicians lack access to training and to some of the new technologies that are emerging. Rural physicians practice all branches of medicine and must spread themselves across a variety of healthcare administrative committees. While urban physicians have access to a university medical library, rural physicians find it difficult if not impossible to maintain similar resources in a small community.
Recruitment and retention of physicians in rural settings is a major issue to access and service as demographics drive out many professionals due for retirement only to be replaced by a smaller base of highly skilled professionals. This in turn raises issues over pay and benefit flexibility to recruit and retain human resources.
New technologies, including telehealth, can help provinces deliver cost-effective health care to rural areas.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces and licensing colleges to seek solutions to the credential problems of foreign-trained doctors.
· A Progressive Conservative government would assist provinces in recruiting medical personnel, particularly for the more sparsely populated areas of the country.
· A Progressive Conservative government would provide consistent and predictable funding for post-secondary education to assist in the training of doctors.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to build and develop the most viable models to deliver health care using new technologies, and develop a Canadian strategy for funding and the integration of telehealth into healthcare delivery.
· A Progressive Conservative government would provide a tax credit of per year to all Emergency Service Volunteers.
EDUCATION AND LEARNING
While post-secondary education is an area of provincial jurisdiction, the federal government has a long-standing role in funding through transfer payments to the provinces.
If Canadians are to prosper in the international marketplace of ideas and jobs in the next century, the problems of our education system must be addressed and resolved.
Canada has one of the world's best-regarded systems of post-secondary education, including internationally-renowned research universities, technical and professional colleges and liberal arts institutions.
But the system has suffered for years at the hands of a federal government retreating from strategic national programs to support our young people and ensure Canada's future in a competitive knowledge-based economy. As transfer payments have been cut, our post-secondary education system has suffered along with our health system.
The share of total federal program spending devoted to post-secondary education transfers has fallen by fifty per cent since 1979-80. More particularly, post-secondary education has been the target of large declines in transfer payments in 1996-97 and 1997-98.
This decline in public support has come to threaten the ability of the post-secondary sector to offer high quality, accessible education in a leading edge research environment. Consequences of declining core university budgets include increased student tuition and fees and accompanying student indebtedness, loss of talented researchers, scholars and lecturers, crumbling infrastructure, and deteriorating laboratories and library collections.
The provinces and territories need a reliable funding partner in the federal government for post-secondary education.
This is a national issue. It will take a strong Canada-wide plan to develop the human resources needed for the university systems across the country to respond to these challenges.
The new generation of students has computer proficiencies and Internet awareness that will challenge their professors. We must ensure that our universities and colleges become leaders in the application of new technologies in education. We must invest now so that our teachers can design and develop Canadian learning products.
We also need a national commitment to provide adequate resources to the students who attend post-secondary institutions. In approaching this issue, we must respect provincial jurisdiction and the fact that some provinces, especially Quebec, have done much to alleviate the debt problem of students attending universities.
The issue of cost and high debt loads on students must be addressed in the context of affordability for all students, regardless of their demographic circumstances. Tuition is now more than ,000 per year on average plus book and living costs. Many students are graduating with crippling debt loads. The consequences of those debt loads are exacerbated by excessively high Canada Student Loan Program interest rates.
At the same time, solving the problem of student funding cannot occur through half measures. It will require imagination and a commitment of substantial resources.
· A Progressive Conservative government would immediatey restore the cash portion of the Canada Health and Social Transfer to at least 1993-94 levels.
· A Progressive Conservative government would examine federal student assistance programs with a view to moving to a system where student loans are repaid as a percentage of net after tax income starting the first full working year after graduation.
· A Progressive Conservative government would introduce a tax credit based on the repayment of Canada Student Loan loan principal, to a maximum of 10 per cent of the principal, per year, for the first ten years after graduation provided the individual remains in Canada. A Progressive Conservative government will provide consistent and predictable funding for post-secondary education.
· A Progressive Conservative government would eliminate the taxable status of scholarships.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish the Canadian Institute for Learning and Technology, a new national centre of expertise and applied research in the use of technology for learning and teaching, spanning the school, college and university and lifelong learning sectors. The Institute will also develop and recognize Canadian leadership in designing and developing exemplary learning products.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish the E-campus Collaborations Program to support national collaborations amongst universities to co-develop courses and programs which are enabled by new learning technologies. A particular focus will be collaborative programs in educational technologies to support both the Canadian learning product industry and the training of the graduate students who will be our future professors.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish the Canadian E-learning Resource Library to provide the infrastructure for a nation-wide exchange of E-learning content. The Repository will provide access to “freeware” and fee-access materials, as well as emerging distribution opportunities such as cooperative exchanges.
PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES
Canadians with disabilities need to have the opportunity to be full participants in Canadian society.
· A Progressive Conservative government would make the disability tax credit refundable. This would extend the disability tax credit to persons with disabilities without taxable income.
· A Progressive Conservative government, in consultation with Canadians with disabilities and organizations that represent them, would expand the list of medical expense claims for people with disabilities who are working.
· A Progressive Conservative government would redirect resources from within the existing budget of Human Resources Development Canada to process the current backlog of Canada Pension Plan disability applications.
Preserving the Health and Environmental Heritage of Canadians Now and for the Future:
“In two terms, the Liberals have yet to pass a single significant new piece of environmental legislation. Many green promises from the Liberal Red Books remain unfulfilled.”
David Boyd, Senior associate with the Eco-Research Chair of Environmental Policy at the University of Victoria. Stewart Elgie Managing director of Sierra Legal Defence Fund, Toronto Star, April 28, 2000.
The Progressive Conservative Party has always believed in balancing economic/human progress with the need to maintain a clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Canada, once a world leader on environmental progress, is suffering from an ecological deficit. Initiatives that balance economic development with environment and human health concerns are needed to replenish this growing deficit.
Protecting Human Health: Safe Air and Safe Water
The environment forms the living foundation upon which we depend for the health of children, families and communities. Studies consistently have shown that vulnerable populations such as the elderly and young children are more susceptible to adverse health effects through the exposure of toxic substances including smog, chemicals and pesticides. Currently, Health Canada assesses the risk of harmful effects of toxins on adult populations only.
· A Progressive Conservative government would make the health of our children a priority in environmental legislation. We would review existing environmental policies that affect human health and ensure there are measures to adequately protect all Canadians by assessing health risks to the most vulnerable--children and the elderly.
· A Progressive Conservative government would introduce a Safe Water Act, legislating and ensuring safe drinking water quality standards for Canadians that would be harmonized with the provinces and territories. Everyone across Canada should have the same security in knowing their water is safe.
· A Progressive Conservative government would enshrine into law, and harmonize with the provinces and territories, Health Canada’s guidelines for drinking water. As a result any municipal water source in non-compliance would be immediately disclosed to the public. Transparency concerning the water supply will build the confidence that Canadians deserve.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that investment is channelled into green municipal infrastructure to ensure safe drinking water and more effective waste management systems.
· A Progressive Conservative government would seek to harmonize with provincial and territorial governments standards on the storage of products and activities which are permitted near municipal water wells as well as surface based water supplies.
· A Progressive Conservative government would introduce a Safe Air Act legislating acceptable air quality standards for Canadians that would be harmonized with the provinces and territories.
· A Progressive Conservative government would achieve sector-by-sector agreements with industry to set targets to reduce emissions of various types of pollutants that are considered risks to the human health of our most vulnerable populations. Rather than allowing industries to set voluntary targets, or having Ottawa impose them, a Progressive Conservative government would conclude a series of multi-pollutant agreements that will be negotiated and binding.
· Financial incentives/preferential tax treatment will encourage sectors to set tougher standards, while penalties would be applied for non-compliance. This method was used in eliminating lead from gasoline in the 1980s allowing refiners to invest in new technologies to achieve the new standard.
· A Progressive Conservative government would encourage drivers to purchase low sulphur fuels by reducing the federal excise tax by four cents a litre on those fuels for a two-year period.
Modernized Pesticide Management:
· A Progressive Conservative government would table new pesticide legislation that would modernize the existing 30 year-old legislation. Exposure levels and toxicity of pesticides will be evaluated with consideration on the effect on our most vulnerable populations.
· A Progressive Conservative government would initiate educational initiatives to inform Canadians of the risks of pesticide use with a goal to reduce usage particularly for cosmetic purposes.
Species at Risk:
We will adopt a science-based listing approach – scientists, not politicians, should be deciding which species are at risk of extinction. Such an approach will also guarantee the federal government protects the species at risk within their own “back yard” on federal lands and within federal jurisdiction. In addition, it will recognize that the costs of conservation should not fall on the shoulders of the few – that compensation is available when necessary once other stewardship initiatives have been deemed insufficient.
· A Progressive Conservative government would immediately introduce to the House of Commons effective Endangered Species legislation. This bill would promote stewardship, fostering a myriad of co-operative initiatives that can ensure the survival and co-existence of landowners and species at risk.
Addressing Climate Change:
Canada finds itself in a unique position with respect to emissions reduction because of our large landmass, relatively small population, winter climate and our economic reliance on resource-based industries. Nevertheless, Canada must work towards doing its share in achieving real reductions.
· A Progressive Conservative government would lead by example in green power procurement.
· A Progressive Conservative government would commit to energy efficient retrofits for federal government buildings from within the existing capital budget of the Department of Public Works and Government Services.
· A Progressive Conservative government would introduce preferential tax treatment/incentives for renewable sources of energy to encourage consumer and industry buy-in of clean sources of fuel and renewable clean energy.
FIGHTING POVERTY IN CANADA
Poverty in Canada is a real and growing problem. Poverty reduction and elimination has significant benefits both for individuals and for Canada as a whole. As such, Canadians and their governments need to develop the political will required to implement constructive solutions.
Poverty should not be viewed simply in federal-provincial terms, but rather as a matter which overrides jurisdictional issues.
Homelessness among Canadians is reaching the point of crisis and a national, co-operative response involving all governments as well as the non-profit and business sectors is required immediately to address the needs of Canada’s homeless population. These people, who are excluded from participation in our society, deserve meaningful, concrete action.
· A Progressive Conservative government would not tax Canadians on their first ,000 of income. This measure will remove 2.3 million low-income Canadians from the tax rolls and save money for every taxpayer.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and the non-profit sector to develop and implement a National Homelessness Strategy which would include a comprehensive range of measures aimed
at preventing and alleviating homelessness in Canada.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provincial and territorial governments to help them establish a series of measures, that would be delivered by organizations active in the mental health field and those working with homeless people, to help homeless Canadians develop greater personal autonomy and facilitate their reintegration into society. Such measures would include the provision of mental healthcare services, community supports, addiction treatment, employment assistance and housing.
Canadian Social Audit:
The development of a social audit would help reveal the effectiveness of federal social programs.
· A Progressive Conservative government would commit to a Canadian social audit to be conducted by an arm’s length agency similar to the Auditor General, the Privacy Commissioner and the Information Commissioner, to assess the effectiveness of federal spending on social programs. The arm’s length social audit agency would include representation from all Canadian governments and all sectors of Canadian society to help Canadians and their governments determine how well their social programs are working as a tool in developing workable solutions to the immense problem of poverty in Canada. The agency’s membership would be appointed by and report to Parliament and the results of the social audit would be made public. Resources to fund this initiative would be reallocated from within the existing budget of Human Resources Development Canada.
OUR AGEING POPULATION
With a rapidly ageing population, Canada is faced with the challenge of ensuring that its senior citizens are able to live out their retirement years in dignity.
Canada Pension Plan (CPP):
Recent studies indicate that approximately 70 per cent of elderly Canadians are dependent on public pension plans Progressive Conservatives have always viewed the CPP as a fundamental part of the Canadian social safety net, an obligation that government must honour.
In 1997, Ottawa and the provinces agreed to two major changes to the CPP. First, CPP funds were to be invested in the marketplace managed by an arm’s length agency, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board. The legislation creating the Board was criticized for creating a weak governance structure without sufficient checks and balances. The second CPP change was to increase premiums more rapidly than previously planned, but to cap them at 9.95 per cent, the level needed
to fund the plan over the long run. This equalled an billion increase in annual premium revenues by 2003.
Policies must also be developed to enable a greater number of Canadian seniors in need of care-giving to remain in their own homes, rather than in more expensive institutional accommodations where their independence suffers.
· A Progressive Conservative government would double to the value of the tax credit currently given to Canadians who care for a low-income elderly parent, grandparent, or infirm relative in their home.
· A Progressive Conservative government would not raise CPP contribution rates beyond levels adequate to ensure the long-term viability of the Plan.
· A Progressive Conservative government would require that members of the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have pension fund or investment expertise.
· A Progressive Conservative government would appoint the Auditor General as the auditor of the CPP Investment Board.
· A Progressive Conservative government would appoint a Minister of State for Seniors to ensure that the unique needs of seniors are being properly addressed across government departments.
Enhanced Canadian Cultural Content
Canadians expect to see their experiences and aspirations reflected in the cultural expressions of the country's creative talent in all the arts. Our cultural communities in the area of film, television, music, museums, literary works, galleries, or performing arts contribute immensely to the quality of life for all Canadians. And our cultural activities continue to help us define ourselves and celebrate our lives and our accomplishments.
We have entered the era of convergence in which information and communication technologies are transforming the landscape for the distribution of cultural content. The Internet world and multimedia capabilities require changes in the traditional relationships between governments and the cultural communities both as financial partners and regulators. In this context, Canada has experienced the growing importance of the film and broadcasting industries to our economy and to our skilled and creative workforce.
We need to keep our talent working in and for Canada and to increase the development of Canadian content for Canadian and worldwide distribution systems. This challenge demands strong federal leadership.
The current Liberal government has neglected key areas of concern, including:
- Managing the impact of digital media and the Internet on intellectual property rights.
- Adjusting the rules for accessing publicly-funded production funds and establishing a level playing field between broadcasters and Internet video services.
- Reviewing the mission and role of the CBC as a public broadcaster for all regions of the country.
- Updating the role-played by the CRTC in Canada's communication and broadcasting industries in the twenty-first century.
A Progressive Conservative government would:
· Introduce new copyright legislation that will serve both the creators of content and the broadcasters and publishers.
· Initiate a modern and fair set of rules that will streamline and simplify the access of film and television production funds for new Canadian works.
· Make the CBC's mission and role as public broadcaster relevant to all regions of Canada.
· Launch a review of the regulator, the CRTC, to align its mandate to new realities in the communication and broadcasting industries.
· Continue to support cultural exemptions in trade agreements.
There is virtually no more complex public policy issue facing both governments and the people of Canada than establishing policies to deal with the issues faced by the Aboriginal people of Canada. The Progressive Conservative Party has endorsed the inherent right to self-government within Canada for Canada’s Aboriginal people.
There are many issues facing Aboriginal people in addition to the task of achieving self-government through negotiations with the federal and provincial orders of government. These include determining a sound economic base for Aboriginal people to grow, flourish and benefit from being part of Canada. The legal and cultural role of Aboriginal women needs to be addressed especially in the movement to self-government.
Amongst the most pressing concerns to be addressed are the complex issues facing Aboriginal youth and those Aboriginal individuals living in cities without a land base.
More than half of the Aboriginal population of Canada is under 25 and living in cities. Most often they are experiencing poverty and functioning alone without direction.
Without significant steps being taken by governments in partnership with the Canada’s Aboriginal people, these young people will become a generation lost to Canada.
· Government must respond more energetically to the co-operative settlement of outstanding land and other claims with Aboriginal people ensuring that they have full opportunity to grow, develop and prosper within Canada.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with Aboriginal people to define and express Aboriginal rights as a matter of public policy in non-confrontational, balanced and interest-based negotiations.
· The Progressive Conservative Party believes that the ineffective, paternalistic and colonial approaches of the Indian Act must give way to greater self-reliance through effective education, economic development, social justice, and local control.
· The Progressive Conservative Party believes that in order to ensure fairness and equality, the Charter must apply to Aboriginal self-government.
· The Progressive Conservative Party believes that Aboriginal self-government must occur within the context of the Constitution of Canada.
· The Progressive Conservative Party believes that the performance and accountability of Aboriginal self-government is enhanced when those who are receiving services contribute to the cost of those services. Giving Aboriginal people the power to raise their own revenues will also reduce the cycle of dependency.
A DIVERSE SOCIETY
Canadians broadly support and celebrate the richness of a society where people of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds live and work together. They accept and value that our diversity has resulted in cultural enrichment and economic opportunity.
Nevertheless, many people feel that personal culture and ethnicity are best nurtured in the hands of individuals and families. Governments have a clear role in battling discrimination. We need to ensure equality of opportunity exists for all Canadians. Governments must reflect and respect that diversity while recognizing Canada’s cultural diversity is a sociological fact. We value this reality and accept the need to foster understanding and equality of opportunity while promoting the common values that Canadians share. This diversity can best be promoted and supported by dynamic community organizations as an expression of active Canadian citizenship.
· A Progressive Conservative government would concentrate on battling discrimination and promoting cross-cultural sensitization through policies that enhance the participation of all Canadians.
· A Progressive Conservative government would support the growth and development of the shared values necessary for the creation of a vibrant and active Canadian citizenship.
Ensuring secure communities is a cornerstone of a civil society and an obligation of government. This Liberal government has abdicated responsibility for modernizing Canada’s laws. The criminal justice system needs to adopt approaches that put greater emphasis on the prevention of crime and the needs of victims. Canadians want more comprehensive and less complicated responses to crime, responses that recognize the impact of family breakdown, sexual and physical abuse and neglect on crime rates. We need to focus our efforts and emphasis on violent offenders.
· The Progressive Conservative Party accepts Parliament’s responsibility in making public policy and a Progressive Conservative government will address tough issues as they arise.
· A Progressive Conservative government would streamline the justice system to make it more user friendly, inclusive and improve the speed and access to justice.
Giving Police the Resources to Keep Our Communities Safe:
Since 1994, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, has been going through a difficult period as a result of extensive budget cuts, staff cuts, and the closure of training centres and detachments.
The effects of the shrinking budget have been felt across the country. In several regions, the number of officers in various communities has been lowered, the budgets for hiring and for salaries have been frozen for many years, and today the average salary of a RCMP officer is below that of many municipal and provincial police forces.
To counter the major budget cuts that have slowed down the RCMP’s work against organized crime, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has increased its presence in Canada to make up for the lack of financial, human and material resources hampering our national police force. We must rebuild the support, tools and dignity of our national police force.
· A Progressive Conservative government would implement policies to improve working conditions for the RCMP and policing services for the benefit of all Canadians.
· A Progressive Conservative government would explicitly assert that our priority is to defeat organized crime, in particular money laundering, human and contraband smuggling, fraud and computer crime.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure stable funding for the RCMP.
· A Progressive Conservative government would earmark funding for equipment, new technologies (specifically upgrades for CPIC, and the DNA databank), new hiring and overtime pay.
· A Progressive Conservative government would review the federal government’s contribution to the financing of municipal and provincial police services offered by the RCMP, which currently ranges from 10 per cent to 30 per cent.
· A Progressive Conservative government would review the training and recruiting programs for RCMP officers to ensure that they are adapted to the new criminal realities.
Many Canadians have come to believe that there are far too many violent crimes committed by young people and that they should be held more accountable. There must be greater emphasis on identifying youth at risk and ensuring there are early intervention strategies. There must be clearer guidelines for young offenders in school, including informing teachers and the education system of Court hearings and conditions. Parents must be involved in Court proceedings involving youth and also be held to account in some instances for the actions of their children.
· A Progressive Conservative government would replace the Young Offenders Act with new, more effective legislation that reflects the following basic principles of justice: protection of the public, deterrence and denunciation balanced with rehabilitation, and a greater discretionary use of restorative justice.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to put in place early identification and intervention strategies for youth at risk.
· A Progressive Conservative government would move to cost-sharing with the provinces the youth justice programs on a 50/50 basis, to be phased in over five years.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish clear guidelines for communications between schools and the justice system involving young offenders. We will ensure that parents are involved in all Court proceedings involving young offenders.
National Sex Offender Registry:
The U.S. experience has shown that registries assist police in identifying suspects and solve sex offences sooner. The 1993 inquest into the death of 11 year-old Christopher Stephenson recommended that the federal government create a national registry for convicted dangerous, high-risk sexual offenders and require each offender to register with police in the jurisdiction where the offender will reside or is residing.
While recent amendments to the Criminal Records Act permit information pertaining to pardoned records for sex-related offences to be made available to people or organizations working with children, a national sex offender registry would put in a place a comprehensive national computer system available to police.
· A Progressive Conservative government would create a national sex offender registry.
National Strategy to Combat Child Pornography, Child Abuse and Elder Abuse:
Protection of our most vulnerable citizens must be a cornerstone of any civilized society. Canadians are concerned about the explosion of child pornography on the Internet and the lack of resources in our legal system to deal with the problem. In an August 2000 annual report, the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada noted that the “use of the Internet has helped pornographers to present and promote their point of view.” The Progressive Conservative Party believes there must be a national strategy to address the startling number of incidents involving children and seniors as victims of crime.
· A Progressive Conservative government would implement a National Strategy to Combat Child Pornography, Child Abuse and Elder Abuse that would include internet safety education for children, training of police in tracking pornography and revamping our current laws to ensure they are not facilitating high tech prostitution.
Keeping our Communities Safe:
Increasing incidences of violence in our communities underscore the need for meaningful consequences for crimes involving weapons. The Criminal Code does not presently provide sufficient deterrence to offenders carrying concealed weapons, using weapons in the commission of an offence or in causing bodily harm to another person. Similarly, the Criminal Code does not accurately reflect the impact of violence or the threat of violence in home invasions.
We need to expand the taking of DNA at the time of arrest, like fingerprints, to optimize the identification of criminals in unsolved crimes. These changes will give police tools to help keep our communities safe.
· A Progressive Conservative government would increase the sentence range for crimes involving weapons.
· A Progressive Conservative government would create a separate offence for home invasion, swarming and recruitment of children for a criminal purpose.
· A Progressive Conservative government would expand the taking of DNA at the time of arrest to optimize the identification of criminals in unsolved crimes.
Long Gun Registry:
The Progressive Conservative Party is committed to gun control legislation that ensures criminal use of firearms is prevented and punished. It should also promote safe firearm training, usage, storage and transportation. A safety focussed, common sense approach is required to replace a cumbersome and repressive long gun registry.
The Progressive Conservative Party has worked vigorously for firearm legislation that keeps “all guns out of the wrong hands and the wrong guns out of all hands” as demonstrated by the enactment of Bill C-17. The current Liberal government promised that the intrusive and unworkable registration system would only cost million over the period 1995 to 2001. However, the Canadian Firearms Centre spent .9 million before a single gun was registered. As of March 1999, million had been spent on gun registration. This year’s annual operating budget has soared to about million. That brings the total cost to well over million and climbing.
· A Progressive Conservative government would repeal the long gun registration system and uphold and enforce provisions that control criminal and unsafe use of firearms.
Giving Victims a Stronger Voice in the Justice System:
Victims need to be provided with a strong voice in the justice system. The former Progressive Conservative government passed legislation helping victims obtain more rights, such as the right to attend parole hearings and to have victim impact statements considered at parole and sentencing hearings. Much of the problem faced by victims is the lack of information and programs for victims. Specifically, there is a need for an independent advocate for victims when the justice system breaks down. Victims must have broader information and access to dates, locations and outcomes of all key parole proceedings, along with the date of release from custody and conditions of release. The National Parole Board should be required to consult with all victims and victims should have the right, if they so desire, to make presentations to the Board at parole hearings.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish a National Victims’ Ombudsman Office with a budget allocation equal to that of the Office of the Correctional Investigator to ensure victims have a voice in the federal corrections and the justice system.
· A Progressive Conservative government would give victims a greater say in parole hearings through the option to make oral representations to the National Parole Board.
· A Progressive Conservative government would review the appointment process for the National Parole Board to put the emphasis on qualification rather than political connections.
Earned Prison Releases Rather than Automatic Releases:
Under the current system of statutory release, Correctional Service Canada automatically releases offenders at two-thirds of the time served. Many are released sooner and the National Parole Board only reviews violent offences. In making their decisions, the Board does not consider the negative attitudes of some statutory release offenders and their unwillingness to undertake rehabilitative programs. As well, there are no clearly defined factors to be followed by the Board when imposing special conditions on an offender's release. Clearly, success on parole is based on risk assessment.
For these reasons, we feel that after an offender has served their sentence monitoring, supervision and treatment should be improved in order to reduce the risk of re-offending, thereby enhancing public safety. In fact, the two-thirds measurement could continue to be used as the standard for release but it should not be required in every case. All cases should be subject to a mandatory, parole style review, perhaps with a reverse-onus test. The Progressive Conservative Party is of the firm belief that the concept of earned release as opposed to automatic release would better serve the public. Canadians want the assurance that the offenders are ready to reintegrate into society before having any automatic right of release.
· A Progressive Conservative government would replace statutory release with mandatory review reversing the onus to the offender to satisfy the National Parole Board of readiness for release.
Sentencing that Make Sense:
The current sentencing and conditional provisions do not allow consecutive sentencing for persons convicted of multiple murders. The Progressive Conservative Party believes that offenders must be held accountable for the offences they commit. Currently, offenders have nothing to lose by murdering several people as the sentence and parole ineligibility period will not change. This means the lives of subsequent victims appear meaningless under our current justice system.
On the other hand, there needs to be greater discretion in the diversion of those convicted of summary conviction offences away from the criminal courts. There should be provision to enable offenders to make restitution or do community service for the offence. Victims should be given the option to participate to the extent they choose.
· A Progressive Conservative government would adopt the principle of discretionary consecutive sentencing for multiple murders.
· A Progressive Conservative government would eliminate the option of conditional sentences for certain scheduled offences (crimes involving sex or violence).
· A Progressive Conservative government would expand the ability of judges to grant dangerous offender designations, if supported by evidence.
· A Progressive Conservative government would amend the sentencing system for minor offences, in order to reallocate more resources of the legal and correctional system to deal with violent or repeat offences. We would permit greater discretion in the diversion of those convicted of summary conviction offences away from the criminal courts to restorative justice.
BUILDING A VIBRANT ECONOMY FOR THE 21ST CENTURY
THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE FISCAL PLAN: The Economic Fundamentals
Canada’s economic policies need to be set within a framework that reflects both our national values and global realities. Economic growth is the means to achieve all other goals we might set for our society. Only with increased prosperity will Canadians enjoy first class public health care, access to quality public education and a reliable social safety net.
Because of international factors and the Free Trade Agreement, Canada's economy has been performing reasonably well. However, the current Liberal government's economic management has been defined by missed opportunities. Around the world, business investment has been rising but our share of new, foreign direct investment has been falling. Even more alarming, however, amidst the longest economic expansion in North America since World War II, the real after-tax incomes of Canadians have been stagnating. Other nations have seen progress but Canadian families could not seem to capture a fair share of the benefits. In fact, the standard of living (as measured by Statistics Canada) of Canadians is 30 to 35 per cent below that of Americans. If our standard of living continues to fall at its current rates, ten years from now Canadian living standards will be a mere 50 per cent of those in the United States.
Canada’s economic performance is hampered by high personal and corporate taxes. Excessive taxes make our businesses less competitive, contribute to the "brain drain" and erode the standard of living of Canadian families. We need an aggressive plan to pay down our national debt to make us more internationally competitive.
Canada needs a new agenda, a plan designed to allow Canadians to fully benefit from the opportunities of the new millennium. A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that the economic fundamentals are in place to allow Canadians to compete and thrive in the global economy.
HELPING CANADIAN FAMILIES
Disposable income is falling. Canadians now pay, on average, about 47 per cent of their income in taxes. Government revenue has increased by billion since 1993, including a hike of billion in personal income tax revenue. Personal income taxes, as a percentage of family expenditure, increased 15 per cent for the average Canadian family from 1992 to 1997. Since 1990, American net disposable income per capita has climbed over 10 per cent, while Canadian real disposable income fell by 8 per cent.
Letting Canadians Earn More Before They Pay Taxes:
We believe that Canadian workers should be able to keep more of their hard-earned money. By increasing the amount that Canadians can earn without paying income tax, we will decrease the tax burden of all taxpayers, while providing particular benefits to low- and middle-income taxpayers.
· A Progressive Conservative government would increase the amount of income Canadians can earn tax free, the Basic Personal Amount, from its current level of ,231 to ,000 in 2001, ,000 by 2002, ,000 by 2003, ,000 in 2004, and to ,000 by 2005. This will remove 2.3 million Canadians from the tax rolls. These are Canadians who can least afford to pay income tax, yet are forced to do so by the current government. With this change a taxpayer will save as much as $1,100 annually.
Reducing the Tax Burden for Canadian Families:
The current personal tax system provides limited direct assistance to families with respect to children. It is essential that tax relief be provided to all Canadian families, especially families in the middle-income category.
· A Progressive Conservative government would assist Canadian families by increasing the married and equivalent-to-spouse amount to ,000 by 2005. This means that single-income families, including single parents, will not have to pay tax on their first ,000 of income.
· A Progressive Conservative government would also introduce a child amount of $1,176 per child which is equal to a tax cut. It will give Canadians more options and choices when making decisions regarding childcare, working, and providing for their families' needs.
These measures will save Canadian families, particularly single-income families, thousands of dollars each year.
Planning for Retirement:
Canadians are currently allowed to invest no more than 20 per cent of their RRSP and RPP funds in non-Canadian investments. This arbitrary limit penalizes investors when returns from foreign investments are higher than returns on investments made in Canada. As a matter of equity, Canadians should be permitted to invest more of their funds in the most attractive investments, irrespective of location.
· A Progressive Conservative government would increase the foreign content limit of RRSPs and RPPs to 50 per cent to permit Canadians to invest their retirement savings in the most attractive investments, irrespective of location. This will help Canadians save more for their retirement, and reduce the burden of the federal government at the same time.
Coping with Rising Energy Costs:
Whether it is felt in higher prices at the pump, higher prices for goods that have been transported or higher home heating costs, Canadians are feeling the burden of rising energy costs. High energy costs are stretching family budgets. Canadians deserve tax breaks to help mitigate this burden.
Reducing Excise Taxes on Gasoline and Diesel:
· A Progressive Conservative government would immediately suspend, for one year, the 1.5 cents/litre surtax on gasoline.
· A Progressive Conservative government would reduce the federal excise tax on diesel fuel from four cents/litre to two cents/litre, for a period of one year.
· A Progressive Conservative government would encourage drivers to purchase low sulphur fuels by reducing the federal excise tax by four cents per litre on those fuels for a two-year period.
Eliminating the GST on Home Heating Fuels:
· A Progressive Conservative government would remove the GST on home heating fuels for a period of one year.
After this one year period, a review of market conditions will occur before any adjustments are made.
GOVERNMENT THAT IS FISCALLY RESPONSIBLE
In addition to tax relief, all Canadians deserve a government that is fiscally responsible. That means paying down the debt so that our economy can be competitive and grow and it means spending tax dollars wisely. Our debt repayment capacity grows as the economy grows. A pro-growth tax strategy and eliminating government waste along with a responsible debt payment plan will ensure a stable, competitive and prosperous Canada for future generations.
Paying Down Canada's National Mortgage: The Progressive Conservative Debt Elimination Plan
Debt reduction under the Liberals is happening by accident and not through a plan. Paying down the national debt is a policy objective that is essential.
Canada’s net debt-to-GDP ratio remains the second highest among the G7 countries, just after Italy.
If Canada is to become more internationally competitive we must pay down our national mortgage. Currently, our federal budget does not even contain a line item for debt repayment.
Now is the time to strengthen our fiscal position as a legacy for future generations.
· A Progressive Conservative government would legislate a schedule of debt repayments with a goal of eliminating the debt within 25 years.
· We would pay down the principal on the debt by billion over the next five years.
· We would create a budget line item for debt repayment and provide an annual update.
· A Progressive Conservative government would enact balanced budget legislation, which would include overrides for declared national emergencies or other defined, and presumably rare, circumstances.
· A Progressive Conservative government would reduce government waste and reallocate one per cent of current program spending to debt repayment.
MAKING CANADIAN BUSINESS COMPETITIVE
By international standards, Canadian corporations are taxed at comparatively high levels. In fact, Canada has the second highest statutory corporate income tax rates among G7 nations -- our major trading partners -- and the second highest among all OECD countries. This creates a competitive disadvantage between Canada and our international competitors. In today’s global economy, it is clear that competitive tax rates are essential. Meaningful tax reduction combined with tax reform will mean more jobs for Canadians.
While other countries are using tax reform as a lever for economic growth, Canada is held back by uninspired leadership.
We must have internationally competitive levels of corporate taxation to make it attractive for capital to locate and stay in Canada.
Lower Corporate Taxes:
· A Progressive Conservative government would lower corporate tax rates to the OECD average, which is to a combined federal and provincial rate of approximately 35 per cent within five years. Given current provincial corporate tax rates, this would suggest a federal corporate tax rate of about 20.5 per cent. Lower corporate taxes means more income for business that can be used to expand and attract and retain Canadian employees.
· A Progressive Conservative government would lower the capital gains inclusion rate for business to 50 per cent. Currently our capital gains taxes are nearly twice that of the United States and encourage the brain drain to the United States.
Brain Drain and Personal Capital Gains Taxes:
Canada is losing too many engineers, scientists, doctors, nurses, managers and other professionals to the United States, with serious implications for our long-term economic health. A key challenge of government policy is to end the brain drain as quickly as possible. Canada’s brain drain is a problem of quality, not quantity; those leaving for the United States tend to be our best and brightest. The problem is particularly critical in the high technology sector.
The current Prime Minister has suggested that young Canadians should leave the country if they are unhappy with Canada’s taxes. When Canada loses its best and brightest young people, it loses the capital and talent essential to generate a higher level of productivity.
Statistics Canada recently published figures stating that the number of skilled Canadians moving to the United States has increased from 24,206 in 1995-96 to 62,131 in July 2000. This is equivalent to the population of the town of Newmarket, Ontario moving to the United States!
The elimination of the capital gains tax is the most direct way to unlock and speed the flow of private equity financing. Evidence from the United States demonstrates that 1997 cuts to the capital gains has directly increased the equity value in the American stock market and have helped attract global capital flows. Net foreign investment in the United States more than doubled between 1996 and 1998.
Allan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve said in 1997, shortly after the U.S. capital gains rate was cut, that: “if the capital gains tax were eliminated, we would presumably, over time, see increased economic growth which would raise revenues for the personal and corporate taxes. Its major impact is to impede entrepreneurial activity and capital formation.”
“The capital gains tax doesn’t raise much money, isn’t fair to people who’ve worked hard, and does more harm than good. Mr. Clark is right. It should be scrapped.”
Ottawa Citizen, May 31, 2000
· A Progressive Conservative government would immediately eliminate the personal capital gains tax.
One of the fastest growing sectors of our economy is the information technology field. The development of information technology and the subsequent growth of e-business have contributed to the changing dynamic of Canada’s business environment. Every business will have to adjust to this new economy or lose its market share. Government must play a significant role in educating and providing resources to both consumers and businesses, enabling them to take full advantage of the projected growth potential in the information technology sector.
Today, more than ever, knowledge drives growth in the economy, in jobs and in our standard of living and advancements in the quality of life, yet Canada has the second worst research and development performance (just 1.61 per cent of GDP) of any major OECD nation.
While Canada’s system of scientific tax credits is regarded as among the best in the world, small and medium sized firms still face challenges in finding the funding they need not only to carry out the research, but to bring their discoveries to market. The approval process associated with this system is largely viewed as cumbersome, unresponsive and slow. The result is a system being abandoned by Canadian business in favour of privately funded research and development within more favourable (usually foreign) jurisdictions.
In an attempt to target funding, government has engaged in choosing winners and losers and, in the worst cases, has missed the target altogether. In this new economy, the government has neither the expertise, nor the organizational flexibility to effectively assess research or economic development needs in a timely manner.
· A Progressive Conservative government will examine tax treaty laws to ensure there is tax neutrality for non-resident investment in Canadian e-businesses.
Canada’s Biotechnology Industry:
Canada’s has a world class biotechnology industry, due in part, to the efforts of the former Progressive Conservative government. From biopharmaceuticals to R&D in forestry, agriculture, food processing, and aquaculture, the industry has grown since then to employ more than 11,000
people across Canada. As of 1998, the Canadian biotechnology sector enjoyed about five per cent of the world’s market for biotechnology products, and industry projections suggest that Canada can double that by 2005.
The challenges we must face in creating a solid and dynamic biotechnology industry are two-fold. First, we must create a climate in which the various industry sectors can succeed and flourish – both here and internationally; and second, we must meet the public’s concerns about their own health, the ethical and environmental impact and the safety of genetically modified organisms and species.
· A Progressive Conservative government will continue its long-standing commitment to biotechnology and will pursue policies to enhance product development, to create greater value-added capability within all regions, to adequately fund R&D, and work with the provinces, universities and research institutes to improve commercialization efforts.
Cutting the Regulatory Burden:
Regulations are a form of hidden taxation. As they raise the cost of doing business, Canadians end up paying a relatively higher price for goods and services. They also kill jobs by making Canada less competitive.
Government does not always consider whether a new regulation will meet its goal, whether it is the most cost-effective method of protecting the public, or whether it will have unintended side effects. In some cases, less costly alternatives such as negotiated compliance are not considered.
A regulatory environment that subjects the economy to regulations only where and when needed is critical to the creation of a vital and vibrant economy. However, the regulatory burden imposed on Canadian business acts as a costly impediment to the productivity growth that is essential to an improved standard of living.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work towards the co-operative elimination of excessive regulation, overlap, duplication and waste in the allocation of responsibilities between the federal and provincial/territorial governments.
· A Progressive Conservative government would implement an annual “Red Tape Budget” which would detail the estimated total cost of each individual regulation, including the enforcement costs to the government and the compliance costs to individual citizens and businesses.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish regulatory service standards, and devote the resources needed to meet those standards thus ensuring that it does not result in undue pressure being placed upon regulators to approve questionable products.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work towards ensuring that user fees that are tied to regulatory approval are limited to no more than the cost of actually providing that approval. Further, those fees should be used to improve service, allowing for faster regulatory approval.
· A Progressive Conservative government would make it a policy to require each department wishing to enact a new regulation to first have conducted an independent review of the economic impact and compliance costs.
· A Progressive Conservative government would require new regulations to be written in a manner that is simple and easy to understand.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that all proposed regulations are put on the departmental web site for thirty days to allow for greater public awareness before they are published in the Canada Gazette.
Securities Regulatory Reform: Creating a Better Environment for Innovators:
The variety of provincial securities regulatory authorities continues to complicate efforts of anyone wanting to sell securities on a national basis. A uniform set of securities regulations would improve the ease in which securities could be bought and sold and attract new business to Canada.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with provincial governments to develop a uniform approach to securities regulations.
IMPROVING COMPETITIVENESS IN OUR REGIONS
The Canadian and global economy has undergone more changes in the past decade than in the previous hundred years. Regional development agencies, in their current form, are “old economy” vehicles that need visionary reform to harness the opportunities of the new economy.
Economic development agencies should continue to play a role in funding activities which improve equality of opportunity for disadvantaged regions. In doing so, however, it is important that their activities do not crowd-out private sector investment. In some cases, for example, regional development agencies have encouraged entrepreneurs to opt for government financing when private sector capital financing would have been more beneficial in the long run. While private venture capital investment occurs with a cost of the loss of equity, it brings with it significant and important benefits. These include access to a high powered and connected board of directors, expertise in capital markets and investment banking and the global high technology community.
Regional development agencies should be reformed to act as a catalyst to attract private sector venture capital investment in the regions. Access to venture sector capital is more difficult in the rural areas of Canada and we need to tear down impediments to placing this capital in regionally disadvantaged areas. Regional development agencies could work through syndication to build teams of technologically savvy venture capital firms to invest in Canada. Regional development agencies should make it easier for private venture capital firms to invest in Canadian companies by reducing the risk.
In its fascination with new industries, the Liberal government has discounted the economic strength and potential of our traditional industries. It is entirely right for Canada to embrace high technology as a critical building block of Canada’s future. However, it is wrong to embrace one building block while letting another fall into neglect.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish a task force comprised of representatives of different industry sectors (high technology, tourism, value-added resources, etc.) and the venture capital community, boards of trade, chambers of commerce and other interested parties to develop more effective regional development agencies.
· A Progressive Conservative government would exclude Canadian built ships from Revenue Canada Leasing Rules. Then existing depreciation rates applicable to ships would apply without restrictions and the tax disincentive of owning or leasing would be eliminated. This would stimulate the markets for Canadian made ships, as leasing is the predominant method of financing significant capital items such as a ship.
· A Progressive Conservative government would consider guaranteeing private sector debt financing for shipbuilding, as is done in the United States, with long-term amortizations and financing up to 87.5 per cent of a project’s cost.
· A Progressive Conservative government would provide a refundable tax credit to Canadian shipowners or shipbuilders who contract to build a ship or contract for the conversion or major refit in a Canadian shipyard.
· A Progressive Conservative government would promote to the greatest extent possible, the building of Canadian military ships in Canadian shipyards.
Reform of the Equalization Payment System:
A part of the Progressive Conservative Party’s commitment to work in a cooperative fashion with the provinces is its desire to overhaul the equalization payment system in Canada so it becomes a vehicle for growth.
There needs to be significant reform to respond to the economic realities of the 21st Century. The original goal of equalization -- to provide approximately the same level of government services and taxation across the country in order to help the less populous provinces – is as valid and important as ever. However, the current system is not meeting that objective. The current equalization system can actually inhibit growth in the recipient provinces.
A better equalization system would help recipient provinces utilize aggressive and innovative tax strategies to create economic growth.
· A Progressive Conservative government would revisit, with the provinces, the current equalization agreements to introduce a five-year break on the reduction of equalization benefits which currently occurs, and provide a review to ensure that new sources of revenue do result in an improved economic climate. A five-year horizon would provide provinces with opportunity to utilize these new sources of revenue to reduce dependency and create a more favourable business environment and higher levels of growth.
The federal government should play a leading role in creating the conditions for the provinces to negotiate a real economic union. Inter-provincial trade represents 19.8 per cent of GDP and is growing faster than the economy on average. But there are more barriers and obstacles to trade between Canadian provinces than there are between countries of the European Union.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to reinforce a Canadian economic union through the Inter-Provincial Trade Agreement.
· An Inter-Provincial Trade Commission would be given authority by a Progressive Conservative government to initiate and to carry out policies derived from the Inter-Provincial Trade Agreement.
· A Progressive Conservative government would take a leadership role in eliminating inter-provincial trade barriers in commerce, labour, and capital mobility through non-constitutional means.
Employment Insurance: A Plan That Works, A Plan That Is Fair
Canada’s Employment Insurance (EI) system no longer adequately fulfils the purpose for which it was originally designed, and now helps push some people into poverty.
It is clear that immediate improvements are required in certain areas of the EI program to ensure fair and equitable treatment for not only part-time and seasonal workers everywhere in Canada, but also EI ratepayers who remain employed for long periods of time.
Increases in the eligibility requirements have made it more and more difficult to qualify for Employment Insurance, and equally difficult to qualify for training or skills upgrading. At the same time, EI premiums have been kept artificially high, adding yet another burden for families.
· A Progressive Conservative government would support the continuation of an independent Employment Insurance Commission and its role in recommending sustainable EI premiums.
· A Progressive Conservative government would investigate with the Employment Insurance Commission a proposal that would move towards the establishment of individual EI Accounts and an EI Rebate program which would enable workers to roll a portion of their EI contributions into a RRSP upon retirement.
· A Progressive Conservative government would review eligibility criteria for skills training and upgrading with the provinces so that all of those who are in need are able to qualify for help.
The unique situation of seasonal workers needs to be addressed in reform of the Employment Insurance system. Seasonal communities, found in all parts of Canada, are characterized as being rural, as having unemployment insurance rates which are consistently above the national average and as having a high percentage of low-income jobs that are seasonal or weather dependent. There is a misconception that people in seasonal communities are seasonal workers by choice. It is the jobs that are seasonal; people would like to work year-round. As well, for many people Employment Insurance benefits end before the seasonal job begins again. Forcing people into poverty is not the answer – a creative approach needs to be taken to fill this “gap” in income.
There is also a need to empower seasonal communities to develop their own long-term job creation programs. The cookie cutter approach of the past job creation programs has not worked. We need to provide the tools to seasonal communities to develop their own strategies to end the dependency on Employment Insurance.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces, local communities and the private sector to develop a two-year Community Investment Pilot Program for seasonal communities with very high unemployment rates. The Program would include a micro-lending component to help establish new businesses or cooperatives, literacy and skills training, business and marketing advice. Funding will be redirected from within HRDC budgets.
Canada is a trading nation. We are the sixth largest exporter of goods and services in the world and the seventh largest importer. The previous Progressive Conservative government recognized the necessity for broad-based trade agreements with our largest trading partners in order to compete in the world marketplace and especially to gain access to the United States, the largest market in the world.
Because of the continuation of trade policy implemented by the previous Progressive Conservative government, Canada and the United States currently exchange nearly $1.5 billion in goods and services each day. The merchandise trade balance with the U.S. rose from .7 billion in 1988 to billion in 1999.
Given Canada’s geographic size and small population, it is natural that we would become world leaders in trade. Through various agreements Progressive Conservatives put in place between 1984 and 1993, particularly the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we have moved to a position where more than forty per cent of everything that Canadians manufacture is exported. According to the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, every $1 billion increase in Canada’s exports creates or sustains 11,000 Canadian jobs.
It is important therefore that we continue to widen our trade horizons and work diligently to discover new markets. We must also recognize the importance of the World Trade Organization. An effective rules-based multilateral trading system is of great importance to securing the economic and social wellbeing of Canadians.
· The Progressive Conservative Party is committed to the principle of free trade and will actively expand global trading partnerships with other nations, while promoting human rights, the environment and protecting our culture.
· A Progressive Conservative government would pursue with the WTO a level playing field in resource industries, especially agriculture, to reduce government subsidies to these industries in other countries, so that there can be true free trade relating to resource based products.
· A Progressive Conservative government would pursue the elimination of trade distorting government export subsidies in future rounds of trade negotiations. The elimination of export subsidies must occur within clearly established time limits. Also, a clear definition of what constitutes an export subsidy must be established.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces and territories to ensure that there is a consultation process that will accommodate their divergent trade objectives.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that Canada’s interests are promoted and protected in the WTO services negotiations currently proceeding in Geneva. When a broader round of WTO negotiations is launched, Canada’s future will depend on effectively managing negotiations on several other key issues, including intellectual property, competition, and e-commerce.
Agriculture remains one of the pillars of the Canadian economy and accounts for about 8.5 per cent of the Canadian Gross Domestic Product. Each Canadian farm produces on average enough food for about 120 people annually and Canadians enjoy wholesome, healthy food at a fair price.
Entering the 21st century, Canada faces new challenges and trends. Globalization and trade liberalization forces Canada to become increasingly competitive. After historical changes in trade and transportation, the Liberal government is now choosing to largely ignore rural and agricultural concerns and offers piecemeal, band-aid policy solutions. Farm incomes are unstable, infrastructure is crumbling, access to capital is restricted and foreign governments continue to subsidize their agricultural sectors at high levels.
In July 2000, the Canadian Farm Income Program (CFIP) was established. The program has been seen as inadequate in the disaster assistance component of the overall government policy regime. The CFIP replaced the vilified Agriculture Income Disaster Assistance (AIDA) which was seen as bureaucratic and ineffective in meeting farmers’ needs. Our global competitors support agriculture to a much higher degree: in 1997, for every dollar Canadians spent on farm support, the Americans spent .06 and the European Union spent .14. Japan spent .47. The Liberal government raced to meet their commitments under the Uruguay Round and in doing so cut farm support programs drastically.
The Progressive Conservative Party believes that we must embrace and support a clear national policy that demonstrates the value Canada places on this nation’s ability to feed itself and the world. In future rounds of trade negotiations, Canadian negotiators should continue to pursue the elimination of trade distorting government export subsidies, within clearly established time limits.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish the Federal Agriculture Stabilization Transfer (FAST) a comprehensive national safety net program comprised of a revenue/income stabilization component and a reliable disaster relief fund. This program will not penalize farmers who practice prudent risk management and should be made available to all commodities, except supply managed commodities.
· A Progressive Conservative government would review and revise regulations and legislation to streamline food production and processing.
· A Progressive Conservative government would increase funding for investment in basic research, applied research and education.
· A Progressive Conservative government would initiate a two-year horticultural pilot project to develop an agriculture/horticulture T-4 form that would enable Canadians to earn a certain amount tax-free when employed seasonally in the agriculture/horticultural sector. This will address the significant shortfall in seasonal workers found particularly in the horticulture sector.
Canadian Wheat Board (CWB):
· A Progressive Conservative government would make membership in the Canadian Wheat Board a matter of discretion of the producer subject to the conduct of a free vote of all current members of the CWB to determine the powers of the CWB for the ensuing five years.
The Progressive Conservative Party has advocated opening up the Canadian rail system to competition by and between all competent railway operators to create a more competitive and efficient rail transportation system that will benefit Canadian farmers.
· A Progressive Conservative government would support the development of a commercial and contractual grain handling system.
The supply management system for dairy, poultry, and eggs remains a major element of Canadian agri-food policy and has provided orderly marketing of these products within Canada. The Progressive Conservative Party recognizes the importance of supply management to the Canadian agri-food industry.
We believe that all possible steps must be taken by both federal and provincial governments to preserve the supply management system while recognizing that change within the system is necessary. We are committed to supply management and efficient marketing boards and will work to ensure that the system abides by our international trade obligations. We firmly believe a “rules-based” system in world trade must be respected by all countries.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work to maintain tariff levels and access volumes agreed to at the World Trade Organization talks to ensure the orderly transition from direct subsidies.
The fishing industry in Canada is vital to the socio-economic well being of Canadians and their communities. All too often, decision-makers fail to appreciate the importance of the fishing industry to coastal communities. In fact, the current Liberal government has often traded off the interests of fishers and fisheries workers to secure international co-operation on non-fishery related issues.
The overall objective of fisheries management should be to ensure the industry is sustainable, with conservation the goal. However, in the absence of a substantial reinvestment by the federal government in fisheries research, this objective is unobtainable. As well, there needs to be a substantial reinvestment in the construction and maintenance of commercial fisheries infrastructure, such as wharves.
Since the collapse of the northern cod stock, there has been greater emphasis placed on aquaculture. Given the growing importance and potential of aquaculture in Canada, there should be a greater emphasis by the federal government to better coordinate and support the aquaculture industry throughout the Atlantic Region and on the West Coast of Canada.
· A Progressive Conservative government would transfer the policy and science branches of Fisheries and Oceans to the east and west coasts to better understand and respond to the concerns of fishers.
· A Progressive Conservative government would manage the fisheries with the goal of conservation. Any changes pertaining to the commercial fishery will be made after consultation with all parties involved in the commercial fishery. The stocks must be shared as required to meet historic and legal rights of an Aboriginal commercial fishery. A Progressive Conservative government will ensure there is one set of regulations for all and there must be compensation for any loss of rights of existing fishers with details to be developed after consultation with the parties involved.
· We would invest more in fisheries science and research, especially relating to sustainable harvesting.
· A Progressive Conservative government would extend the two hundred mile limit to the edge of the continental shelf and to the Nose and Tail of the Grand Banks and the Flemish Cap in the North Atlantic.
· A Progressive Conservative government will work with the international community to protect trans-boundary fisheries from unsustainable harvesting practices on our east and west coasts.
· A Progressive Conservative government would negotiate with the provinces a cost-shared Commercial Fisheries Infrastructure Program to ensure fisheries infrastructure, such as wharves, is constructed and maintained.
· A Progressive Conservative government would officially support the sealing industry of Eastern and Northern Canada and respect the findings of the Fishery Resource Conservation Council in their recommendations for an increased seal quota. We will also work with our international trading partners to have bans on seal products removed.
The geographical vastness of Canada must be recognized in our policies so that Canadians can depend on the necessary infrastructure being in place in Canada. In fact, it is important that the federal government work closely with the provinces and municipal governments in Canada to ensure that infrastructure is maintained in an acceptable fashion.
To date, any attempts by the Liberal government in this area have been misdirected and have resulted in few meaningful projects being built and a lack of accountability and transparency in relation to dollars spent. In order to bring order to the chaos that surrounds Liberal government grant programs, it is essential that national policies related to highway construction and repair, upgrading of port facilities and small community airport refurbishing be developed.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish a National Highway Policy in partnership with the provinces to ensure the long-term viability of our national highways.
· A Progressive Conservative government would broaden and enhance the Airport Capital Assistance Program (ACAP) to ensure community airports are sustainable.
· A Progressive Conservative government would honour its constitutional obligation to provide an adequate level of service with respect to the Marine Atlantic ferry service as specified in Term 32 of the Terms of Union of Newfoundland and Canada.
Immigration enriches Canadian society, both through increased cultural diversity and new economic opportunities. Public confidence in the immigration system is essential but the abuse of refugee claims to gain a fast-track to the benefits of landed immigrant status in Canada has undermined the integrity of the system. A strong message must also be sent internationally that Canada will not tolerate violations of its immigration and refugee system and abusers will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
· A Progressive Conservative government would focus immigration on those applicants who by educational backgrounds and job skills are needed in the country and are most likely to contribute to the development of Canadian society.
· A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces and professional associations to develop a new system, to be co-ordinated through the Canadian Information Centre for International Credentials, for assessing credentials and granting equivalencies, to enable foreign-trained professionals to contribute fully to Canada’s economic life.
· A Progressive Conservative government would speed the process for foreign students who are studying or have studied in Canada to apply for landed immigrant status.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that Canada accepts its fair share of refugees.
· A Progressive Conservative government would support the Geneva Convention, and apply its standard in the adjudication of refugee claimants and work with the international community to provide humanitarian assistance to those in need of temporary refuge from civil strife, like the assistance we provided to refugees from Kosovo.
GOVERNING WITH INTEGRITY
Reform of Parliament – The House of Commons:
The House of Commons is in need of reform. Parliament must be made more relevant and meaningful for Canadians. We believe in responsible government and representative democracy. Unfortunately, the influence of the individual Member of Parliament has significantly eroded. This damages Canadian democracy. To repair that damage, we must reassert the power of the individual MP to effectively represent the interests of constituents and play a meaningful role in the development of public policy.
It is time to bring meaningful reform to the House of Commons to enable members to participate effectively in the policy making process and have the tools necessary to hold the government accountable.
· A Progressive Conservative government would restore power and democratic accountability to Parliament and strengthen the role of Members of the House of Commons by allowing more free votes and restricting some of the appointment powers of the Prime Minister.
· A Progressive Conservative government would restore Parliament’s ability to hold the government accountable for its spending by allowing a certain number of government departments, chosen by the Opposition, to have their estimates scrutinized by Parliament, without a time limit.
· A Progressive Conservative government would introduce comprehensive whistle-blowing legislation.
· A Progressive Conservative government would initiate a process whereby Members of the House of Commons will only be able to vote on pay and benefit changes to their remuneration that take effect after a subsequent election.
· A Progressive Conservative government would require the Ethics Commissioner to report to Parliament, instead of to the Prime Minister as is currently the case.
Reform of Parliament - The Senate:
The Senate of Canada has an important role to play in the legislative process. Many Canadians have expressed concern with the method of selection of Senators. Until constitutional discussions with the provinces about Senate reform bear fruit, we will proceed with changes to improve the effectiveness of the institution that would not require a constitutional amendment.
· A Progressive Conservative government believes the Senate fulfils important functions that cannot be adequately addressed by the House of Commons, such as the ability to conduct thorough examinations of proposed legislation and regulations, and provide the opportunity for long-term study of complex issues.
· A Progressive Conservative government believes the Senate fills a valuable role as a check on the power of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
· A Progressive Conservative government believes that reform of the Senate must include: (a)Emphasizing the role of the Senate as representative of provincial and territorial interests by rearranging some of its existing committees or creating new ones to focus attention on areas of federal involvement which fall under concurrent or exclusive provincial jurisdiction. (b)Giving the Senate a greater role in reviewing various federal appointments, such as federal judicial appointments and the Governor and Directors of the Bank of Canada.
· A Progressive Conservative government believes that constitutional reform of the Senate under the general formula (seven provinces representing 50 per cent of the population plus the federal government) must include:
a) Electing Senators;
b) Re-balancing the constitutional powers of the Senate to reflect the objective of provincial, territorial and regional representation in the federal legislative process and ensuring the supremacy of the House of Commons on issues to avoid deadlock and political instability; and
c) Distribution of seats on an equal basis determined through discussion with the provinces and territories.
It is now time to build Canada from sea to sea to sea and give the three northern territories the opportunity to become full partners in Confederation. Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut should be entitled to achieve full responsible government; the pace and type of constitutional change for the three northern territories can best be determined by their citizens through their democratically elected governments and legislative assemblies. The citizens of Canada’s three northern territories, like their counterparts in the provinces, should be entitled to the ownership and control of the crown land and natural resources within their respective boundaries. Territorial ownership of crown land and resources should be achieved without the territories having to opt for provincial status in order to achieve that ownership.
· A Progressive Conservative government would phase out the Northern Affairs branch of the Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development in accordance with a timetable agreed to by the territories for the transfer of powers to the three respective northern governments.
PROTECTION OF PRIVACY IN THE ELECTRONIC AGE
The “Internet quake” and the “explosion of e-commerce” have international trade organizations scrambling to stay abreast of the changes. Trading organizations, such as the European Union, the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development have developed and implemented policy positions on information technology. The policy decisions of these organizations have a significant impact on Canada. The European Union directive in 1995 to member states regarding the implementation of privacy legislation prohibits the EU from trading with countries that do not have similar privacy legislation in place.
· A Progressive Conservative government recognizes that government has a role in protecting both the secrecy and privacy of digital communications. A Progressive Conservative government would work with the provinces to develop a comprehensive privacy and security code for electronic communications.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that Canada plays an active role in establishing an internationally recognized, respected seal or trademark for consumer protection and a forum for dispute resolution.
WEB SPEED GOVERNMENT
While the federal government has moved towards this electronic age, it is important that government paperwork move online. Such a move is key to Canada's future economic growth and the seeding of e-business among small and medium sized businesses.
· A Progressive Conservative government would embrace electronic payment systems, a role in research, and educating and equipping the government bureaucracy to participate in an online system, thus putting all federal programs and services online by 2002.
· A Progressive Conservative government would utilize the latest information and telecommunications technology to ensure federal policy makers and researchers can live and work closer to the subjects and communities they serve.
At the heart of any country’s foreign policies are several inter-related core functions, including participation in multilateral and international institutions, diplomatic relations, and official development assistance.
Foreign policy is more than just trade policy and seats on international boards. The influence that Canada has established on the world stage must continually be renewed.
Prior to 1993, Canada stressed two values in our international relations. One was the notion of community, our respect for ethnic differences and identities. The second was our commitment to rules-based conduct, which reached across differences and allowed for the establishment of common standards by which countries and their inhabitants treat each other.
We were successful because the rules we proposed were seen to be fair. Canada defined its national interests more broadly and less selfishly than many other countries. This broader vision of our place in the world led to greater influence on the world stage.
Canada has a direct interest in a less turbulent, less dangerous, more secure world. Our government must be positioned to deal with real international political, security and development issues.
· A Progressive Conservative government would integrate Canada’s international relations, trade and international development policies so that they bring together the country’s economic interests while promoting human rights and individual freedom.
· In cooperation with other countries and through participation in international organizations under a Progressive Conservative government, Canada will play a pro-active role in global affairs, including:
Ø improving economic growth in developing countries;
Ø defending human rights;
Ø maintaining high standards of development assistance;
Ø managing global freshwater and ocean resources;
Ø responding to environmental degradation and setting international standards;
Ø reducing international friction; and
Ø promoting economic interdependence based on increased world trade and reduction of isolationism.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that official development assistance encourages countries to become and remain self-sufficient.
With the end of the Cold War, Canada finds itself in an uncertain and rapidly changing international system. The United States remains the only superpower but may be challenged for that role by China, Russia, and regional powers. Additionally, an increasing world population faces new pressures as food and resources, especially fresh water, decline. Coupled with ethnic and religious pressures, populations are becoming divided and in some cases this has led to the disintegration of states, rapidly emerging humanitarian crises and wars. The international community also faces growing concerns over the proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), international terrorism, illegal immigration and drug trafficking. Canada is a major player in the new global economy and as such Canada and Canadians have interests around the globe. Isolation is not an option for Canada. Canadians require strong, robust multi-purpose combat capable military forces to ensure Canadian security and to enhance diplomacy and global stability through peacekeeping operations.
· A Progressive Conservative government would be committed to funding for adequate strength levels, quality of life initiatives and the procurement of new equipment for the Canadian Forces as the keys to a reasonable defence policy.
· A Progressive Conservative government would provide the Department of National Defence with immediate additional annual funding for the next five years to maintain current capabilities and implement proposed long-term capital programs. We would support off-the-shelf procurement of equipment where possible.
· A Progressive Conservative government would purchase modern, effective Maritime helicopters in accordance with the improved departmental statement of requirement: fair and open competition based on “best dollar for the value” to the Canadian taxpayer.
· A Progressive Conservative government would recognize the sacrifices that are made and required by members of the Armed Forces and their families at all levels. We strongly support the need to provide financial support to allow adequate levels of pay, medical and other benefits, including housing allowances (where necessary) as well as provision of adequate leaves away from station or theatre.
· A Progressive Conservative government would develop coherent policies with respect to Canada’s Armed Forces, which give general focus and direction to the military leadership while empowering them to make strategic operational decisions.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish an independent Inspector General position within the Department of National Defence.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure that both Houses of Parliament have the opportunity to debate and approve at the earliest possible moment Canadian participation in any military intervention or external conflict situation. This would include peacekeeping and peacemaking missions, with the Government of Canada clearly setting out Canada’s interest in the situation and the scope of Canadian involvement.
· A Progressive Conservative government would establish a land base in British Columbia to provide assistance to the civil power in the event of natural disasters such as earthquakes, storms, etc.
· A Progressive Conservative government would pursue foreign governments with vigour to fully clean up all abandoned military sites and invoice them for any costs incurred by the Canadian government to date, and the Canadian government would act in a reciprocal manner.
· A Progressive Conservative government would treat all veterans with respect and will create a Veteran’s Bill of Rights to ensure that all disputes involving veterans are treated quickly, fairly and with the presumption in favour of the rights of the veteran.
· A Progressive Conservative government would ensure the veterans of Canada’s wars and peacekeeping operations receive their veterans’ benefits and health care in a timely fashion.
· A Progressive Conservative government would conduct a complete review of the veterans’ hospital to ensure that the needs of veterans are being met.