2019 Federal Election: Party platform summaries

The following summaries of the federal parties’ platforms cover those elements that address foreign policy and other areas of interest to world federalists in Canada. They are by no means complete. (And it was more difficult to be thorough with those parties who have not put their material into a single document.)

Links are provided to the original documents.

The parties are listed in alphabetical order.

Party: Bloc Québécois

The Bloc Québécois supports an international presence for Quebec and would demand Québec be able to conduct its own international relations, including international treaties. At UNESCO, Canada would need to obtain Quebec’s consent before taking a position.

The party would also require the federal government grant a veto to Quebec on any federal decision to expel refugees. They propose suspending the safe third country agreement with the United States so that the entire border is considered a border crossing. They would also increase the number of immigration staff in Quebec to speed up the processing of applications. As well, they would demand a firm commitment from Ottawa that no deportations be made to countries where the lives might be in danger.

They fully agree with the implementation of UNDRIP.

Their five foreign policy priorities are: climate change, international trade reform (especially related to environment and labour), promotion of multilateralism, fight against tax havens, Quebec’s authority in relation to its jurisdiction

Party: Conservative Party of Canada

The Conservative platform is structured around chapters called: More Money in Your Pocket, More Good Jobs, More Innovation to Fight Climate Change, More Help At Home (which includes culture, immigration, Indigenous Peoples, firearms owners, health, etc), More Strength Abroad, and Fiscal Overview.

The Conservative Party would repeal the federal carbon tax, but keep Canada’s current Paris Accord targets. (Details about their environmental plan were released earlier and are available at https://www.arealplan.ca/.)

There is no mention of UNDRIP in the platform or the TRC Calls to Action or the MMIWG Inquiry’s Calls to Justice, although it does say that the party will “develop a National Action Plan to address the ongoing tragedy of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls.”

The key foreign policy statement to date from the Conservative Party is that would cut aid by 25%, saying that this education would come from “middle- and upper-income countries as well as hostile regimes.” However, they also state that they would “continue to work in partnership with leading Canadian aid organizations including volunteer-focused groups who provide much-needed assistance to developing countries.”

As well, they would provide additional military and non-military support to Ukraine, move the Canadian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, withdraw from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, and reopen the Office of Religious Freedom.

The party also made an announcement on immigration issues, saying that they would “prioritize those who apply to come to Canada through the appropriate immigration streams” and “close the loophole” in the Safe Third Country Agreement. They also suggested changes to how the government manages refugees, including moving Immigration and Refugee Board judges closer to the border.

Party: Green Party of Canada

The Green Party platform begins with a brief explanation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), along with the standardized square images used to identify them. Throughout the document, the images are used to label sections with the related Global Goals.

The first chapter addresses Indigenous peoples and reconciliation, followed by the climate emergency, green economy, invoking ecological wisdom (described as “a Green Party core value”), renewing the social contract, advancing the just society, good governance, and international relations and defence.

The Green Party “fully embraces” UNDRIP and would “remove all obstacles within the judicial, legislative and executive branches of government to wholly implement.” As well as re-introducing the UNDRIP legislation, they would implement the TRC and MMIWG Inquiry calls to action.

In the discussion on trade, the Green Party advocates reforming the World Trade Organization,  including transforming it into the “World Trade and Climate Organization” (eg “Tariffs will be assigned based on the carbon intensity of imported products”).

They would end the Safe Third Country Agreement with the US, “investigate allegations by the United Nations Human Rights Committee of Canadian officials cooperating with foreign agencies known to use torture”, work towards making Canada a leader in AI development and regulation, and ban autonomous weapons (while working towards a global ban).

In the International Relations and Defence section, they advocate for a role for Canada in strengthening multilateralism. They want to re-establish the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and remove any requirements that tie aid to Canadian business interests or “strategic geopolitics.” The party also would increase Canada’s overseas development assistance budget to 0.7 per cent of GDP and increase Canada’s contribution to the Green Climate Fund and Global Environmental Facility to $4 billion per year by 2030. 

Additionally, they would “review federal government policy to align with the 17 Sustainable Development Goals and develop a mechanism to track progress in meeting these targets both at home and abroad. ” They would also expand Canada’s peacekeeping role and support the “United Nations’ doctrine of the duty to protect” and sign and ratify the Treaty to Abolish Nuclear Weapons. They would also cancel arms contracts with Saudi Arabia (as well as banning the importation of oil from Saudi Arabia).

Party: Liberal Party of Canada

The Liberal Party platform is ordered as follows: chapters on the middle class, middle class jobs, the environment, ‘a stronger Canada’ (safety, veterans, equality/diversity, arts & culture, official & minority languages, services, Parliament & public institutions), Indigenous peoples, Canada’s place in the world, responsible fiscal plan (costing of new spends), and a gender equality statement.

As a general comment, the Liberal Party platform is largely inward facing, focused as it on middle class Canadians. 

In the section on reconciliation, the party says they will implement UNDRIP as government legislation by the end of 2020. They also state they will “continue to work” on implementing the TRC’s calls to action and the MMIWG Inquiry report’s calls for justice.

In the section on foreign policy, the Liberal Party says it will ‘renew’ Canada’s commitment to peacekeeping with new investments to support UN peacekeeping, particularly to advance the WPS agenda.

They also particularly mention drawing on the expertise of the Canadian Armed Forces in helping other countries at risk of climate change-related disasters.

The Liberal Party also says that they will expand Canada’s role in multilateral organizations (specifically mentioning NATO and the UN).

Additionally, the platform states that the Liberal Party would establish a “Canadian Centre for Peace, Order, and Good Government”; provide “additional resources” to international institutions like the International Criminal Court and the World Trade Organization; establish a refugee stream specifically for human rights defenders, journalists, and humanitarian workers (with a target of 250 people/year); and take a leadership role in the development of international protocols to ban the use of fully autonomous weapons systems

The party would also gradually increase Canada’s overseas development assistance each year towards 2030 (commitment to SDGs); improve, in undetermined ways, international development assistance; spend at least 10% of ODA budget on education; and lead an international campaign to ensure quality education in refugee and displacement camps.

The Liberal Party also pledges to work with the US to “modernize” the Safe Third Country Agreement. 

The Gender Equality Statement summarizes the Liberal Party’s accomplishments in this area. The entire statement is worth looking at, but highlights include the gender-balanced Cabinet, the creation of the Women and Gender Equality department, the use of GBA+, the National Inquiry into MMIWG, and the Feminist Foreign Policy.

Party: New Democratic Party of Canada

  • Platform title: A New Deal for People: New Democrats’ Commitments to You
  • Found at: https://www.ndp.ca/commitments
  • Length: not a single document, so no pagination

The NDP support nuclear disarmament, a recommitment to multilateral peacekeeping, and ensuring Canadian weapons are not used in foreign conflicts or human rights abuses. They also explicitly mention working towards a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine.

They would also work towards ending sexual harassment and assault in the military. 

The party would increase Canada’s ODA spending to 0.7% (the length of time that it would to take reach this is not given). There is also a pledge that Canada must do “our fair share” towards the SDGs for 2030, particularly citing poverty alleviation, Indigenous rights, and global peace and justice. Additionally, Canada should increase contributions to the  Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria.

Globally, the NDP would promote gender equality, including through greater access to education for women and girls and the inclusion of women in peace building. They would also “hold Canadian companies to a high standard of corporate social responsibility at home and abroad.”

The NDP would also develop a National Action Plan for Reconciliation based on UNDRIP and the TRC’s calls to action. A National Council for Reconciliation would provide oversight and report to Parliament. The party would also establish a National Day for Truth and Reconciliation and implement the MMIWG Inquiry’s calls for justice.

Party: People’s Party of Canada

The People’s Party of Canada’s platform is being gradually released and readers are directed to policies proposed by Maxime Bernier when he was running for the Conservative Party leadership for topics not covered.

The People’s Party is concerned with the number of refugees coming into Canada and they would accept fewer. They would also “declare the whole border an official port of entry for the purposes of refugee claims to send back to the US anyone trying to enter Canada illegally.”

Private sponsorship of refugees would be relied upon instead of government support. They would also not rely on the UN for refugee selection. They would prioritize persecuted groups (for example, Christians in Muslim majority countries and Muslims who are persecuted because they hold western values).

Regarding foreign policy, the People’s Party believe that Canada’s “exclusive priority” should be to manage relations with other countries solely to protect and further Canada’s interests, prioritizing relations with the US.

The party would withdraw from all UN commitments, including the Paris Agreement and the Global Compact on Migration, and reduce Canada’s presence within the UN to a minimum.

They would also liberalize trade “with as many countries as possible” and save billions by phasing out development aid, with international assistance solely focused on emergency humanitarian aid.

Additionally, the People’s Party would abandon greenhouse gas emission reduction targets, stop helping other countries to reduce emissions, abolish the carbon tax and subsidies for green technologies, and leave it to provinces to develop programs if they wish.

They would also “prioritize implementing practical solutions to make Canada’s air, water and soil cleaner, including bringing clean drinking water to remote First Nations communities.”

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