It seems to me that the New Democrats, and especially while under the leadership of Jack Layton, have favoured centralization of power in Ottawa. When did they change to now favour provincial rights? The NDP has always been for a strong central government with provinces expected to toe the line drawn by Ottawa.
What’s that, they haven’t changed and still believe Ottawa’s power should outweigh the power of the provinces? Then why are they are doing so well in Quebec, the most decentralized of our ten provinces?
Simply put: for the sake of political expediency, the New Democrats are pretending to believe in more autonomy for Quebec.
The thrust of social democratic thought in Canada has always been towards national programs, with all provinces expected to adhere to guidelines developed, published and enforced by Ottawa. The social program with which New Democrats most closely identify is the Canada Health Act (CHA), federal legislation in which criteria and conditions are specified that must be satisfied by the provincial and territorial health care plans in order for them to qualify for their full share of the federal cash.
Here’s a quote from the NDP platform:
“The New Democrat plan is focused on improving your health services, rewarding the job creators, strengthening your pension, and making your life a little more affordable.”
Both health services and pensions are provincial responsibilities, but these are the highest priorities of the federal New Democrats. And I’m not surprised.
Here’s what The Montreal Gazette had to say earlier this month:
“… the election platform that [NDP leader Jack] Layton, a native of the Montreal suburb of Hudson, unveiled Sunday shows that the NDP is still very much a party with an inherent instinct to centralize power and trample on provincial jurisdictions, something that could cause real conflict with Quebec if the party were to take power.”
The NDP shows its lack of care for provincial jurisdiction by saying it would create a federal post-secondary education act that would provide funding for post-secondary education, provided the provinces agree to a tuition freeze and in some cases a tuition rollback. There are other examples in the NDP platform of encroachment on provincial jurisdiction, such as: their promises to hire more doctors, nurses and police officers, and to create more daycare spaces.
As the NDP undergo more scrutiny in the days ahead, perhaps Quebec voters will become more leery of a political party and its leader who are not always who they say they are.
Sniff, sniff … do I smell a hidden agenda?