Month: August 2015

Green Party Policy: TFSAs and Student Loans

Vision GreenReceived an e-mail from a constituent in Kitchener-Conestoga asking about the Green Party’s policies on Tax-Free Savings Accounts and student loans:

For the first time ever I’m considering casting my vote for the Green Party this October. While I’m not yet sold on all of the proposals put forth by the Green Party in certain areas, I would like to know the Green Party’s position on the Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs) that were introduced by the Harper government. As a millennial, I’m facing many of the economic challenges facing this demographic at large. As a result, I view TFSAs as a great way to save for things like purchasing a house, investing in my own retirement etc. I know that the Liberals and the NDP do not view TFSAs too favourably. What is the Green Party’s position?

In addition, do the Greens have any proposals regarding student loans, and more specifically, those who already have student loans?

Thank you for your time!

Thank you for considering the Green Party!

Tax-free savings accounts are an easy and effective way for Canadians to save money. At low levels they benefit everyone across the economic spectrum, but as the contribution limits increase, they disadvantage lower-income Canadians who simply don’t have the money to contribute. For that reason the Greens are in favour of keeping the current limit of $5500.

As for student loans, the Green Party wants to implement a new system that does not charge interest on student loans, but instead has a one-time charge. Repayment would be based on a small, progressive percentage of annual income, and repayments would not start until a certain income level (greater than that required by today’s student loans). Existing student loans would be immediately transferred to the new system, providing the greatest benefit to those with the lowest incomes today.

Of course, the main Green Party economic platform is the Guaranteed Liveable Income, a payment to all Canadians through the tax system. This would supplement the existing CPP, EI and other social benefits, and would be coordinated with the provinces through the Council of Canadian Governments. A similar program called Mincome was successfully run in Manitoba in the 1970s, and GLI has been proposed by many leading economists.

Thanks again for your interest, and let me know if you have further questions.

–Bob.

A Strategic Vote Is A Wasted Vote

I VotedOn Facebook, Gary Dale comments Time for the Green Party supporters to vote strategically to change the game.

No, Gary, it’s time for Green supporters to vote for the candidate who will best represent them. Strategic voting doesn’t work — if it did we wouldn’t have a Conservative majority today. And even if it did, you’d only be electing a government that doesn’t represent your interests. A strategic vote that elects someone who doesn’t represent you is even more wasted than an FPTP vote that doesn’t elect anyone.

Vote. Vote for the candidate who will best represent your interests. I hope that’s a Green, but vote regardless.

–Bob.

Better than a sticker! by Sonya Green is used under a CC BY w2.0CC BY 2.0 license.

Who’s Really Splitting The Vote?

In 2011, there was close to 60% voter turnout, of whom about 7% voted Green.

That means only about 4.2% of eligible voters voted Green. Compare that to the 40% of eligible voters who didn’t vote at all, and it’s easy to see which group is really splitting the vote.

40% > 4.2%

If the other parties want to increase their vote share, they should pick from the low-hanging fruit.

Vote! Vote for the candidate who will best represent you. I hope that’s a Green, but vote regardless!

I Will Not Retract My Candidacy

Green Votes

Green votes

I just received an e-mail from a client, a friend, a mentor asking me to retract my candidacy:

I know that every vote that the Greens gets gives them money to put forward their ideas – which is obviously good – but we know how voting for Greens just takes away a vote from someone who might actually win.

I suggest that several days before the election have the candidates declare that they want the voter to vote for someone who can win.

Let’s suppose that you personally said “In the antiquated electoral system we have, the reality is that I cannot win this riding because of First-Past-The-Post. The Liberals and NDP have promised to bring in Proportional Representation. Hold your nose and vote them in and keep their feet to the fire so that the next time you vote Green, your vote will actually count.”

Sadly, the Conservatives repealed the law that provided the per-vote subsidy. And campaign expenses are reimbursable only if the party receives some 15% of the vote. So while a single vote is no longer a direct benefit to the Greens, a mass of votes will go a long way to defraying election expenses.

It is a common fallacy that Greens are not electable. But there are Green members in the provincial legislatures in BC, PEI, NB and the Whitehorse council, not to mention Elizabeth May with a seat in the federal parliament.

It is also a common fallacy that the Greens split the vote. In the ridings where Greens do well it is because they’re attracting people who don’t otherwise vote. The larger the voter turnout, the better Greens do. So, they’re not taking votes away from other parties. And in ridings where Greens don’t do well their portion of the vote is so small it makes no difference to the outcome. You’re better off convincing the NDP to vote Liberal, or the Liberals to vote NDP.

Please check these two videos. The first is very accessible, and shows graphically how Green votes aren’t split votes. The second video delves into the math, showing that Green votes are statistically too small to affect the balance of power in parliament.

Chris Tolley: The Vote Splitting Myth

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=chVuSdx_WqQ

Bob MacKie: Vote Splitting? I Don't Think So…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4p80aRdoyHY

As you’ve told me, people should vote for the candidate who will best represent them in their riding. If you vote for a candidate you don’t like just to keep out a candidate you like even less, you’ll only get a government you don’t like. When a candidate retracts his candidacy it is unfair to the voters who no longer have that party as a choice; it is unfair to the party’s supporters in that riding, who may have made financial contributions and burned shoeleather canvassing door-to-door; and it is unfair to the party itself, which has provided technical, legal, and moral support, and possibly financial support as well.

Retracting candidacy weakens the party, so that the issues it raises will be taken even less seriously in the next election. You may have noticed that both the NDP and the Liberals are promoting their ‘green policies’ — lifted directly from the Green Party platform since 1983! This would never have happened if they didn’t consider the Green Party as a viable alternative, a real threat to their own hegemony! If they can weaken the Green Party they won’t have to have green policies, and they’ll go back to their earth-destroying policies you so abhor.

The Greens may not win this election, and I have no illusions about winning in my riding. The Conservatives won here with a majority of the votes, and the Greens were solidly in fourth place. The Greens may not win but by running, the Greens force the other parties to implement green policies. The whole point of the global Green movement is to make this Earth a better place, and if the other parties can be made to do that, even for the wrong reasons, it’s still mission accomplished.

My final word on strategic voting: It doesn’t work. There were two national campaigns in the 2011 election: a vote swapping scheme run by Lead Now (Pair) Vote Swap, and a cooperative voting campaign by Catch-22. There is no evidence that either campaign or strategic voting in general had any effect at all. In fact, just the opposite — the Conservatives went from a minority position to a majority.

Vote for the candidate who will best represent you in your riding. Even if that candidate does not win, I guarantee you’ll sleep better at night knowing you did the right thing.

–Bob.

Added 13 September 2015: The Catch-22 website no longer exists. Read the Rabble.ca article by Gary Shaul, Catch 22 Campaign website shutting down.

A Vote For The Green Party Is…

In a recent conversation on Twitter @Maark0_o debates @Raffi_RC about the merits of voting for the Green Party.

@maark0_o: @raffi_rc @elizabethmay A vote for the Green Party is a vote for Stephan Harper. That's a reality of our first-past-the-post system. @Raffi_RC: @Maark0_o @ElizabethMay i disagree. Greens attract new voters.

Twitter conversation

Of course, the Liberals will say a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Conservatives, the NDP say a vote for the Greens is a vote for the Liberals, and the Conservatives just pass legislation to suppress the vote.

A vote for the Green Party is not a vote for any other party. A vote for the Green Party shows that Canadians want their government to follow the philosophies of the Green Party: Transparent and Accountable, Respectful, Issue-based, Representative, and Cooperative.

A vote for the Green Party that doesn’t elect a Green MP shows the inequity of the First-Past-The-Post voting system. The Green Party will work to replace First-Past-The-Post with an electoral system that has Proportional Representation, so that all Canadians’ votes will count.

Vote. Vote for the candidate who will best represent you.

A vote for the Green Party is the only way to elect a Green Member of Parliament.

–Bob.