Political Parties The House of Commons The Green Party Elizabeth May
Key Terms to Know Policy: A plan of action by a political party or government to achieve certain goals Platform: A formal, written statement outlining the policies of a political party Political Parties: Organized groups of people with common values or goals who compete to get candidates elected and to form the government. Political Spectrum: A line showing the range of political beliefs from liberalism (left) to conservatism (right) Interest Groups: Organizations of people who share social, political and other goals and act together to influence governments. They may be local, national or international in scope. Polls: a survey of public opinion, or a place where a voter goes to vote on election day Referendum: A direct yes or no vote of the electorate on a specific issue, policy or law. Youth Wings: Groups within political parties in which young members, including those under the voting age, can be active in forming policy and supporting party candidates.
The Political Spectrum • Your views on economic, social, and religious issues has a direct impact upon the Political Party that you wish to support. For instance, • Should the government censor the arts? • Should Marijuana be de-criminalized? • Should all Canadians receive equal access to health care? • Should taxes be raised to pay for much needed social programs? • Should money be redistributed from the richer provinces to the poorer ones? • Should same sex marriages be recognized?
The Political Spectrum Supporter of the Gun Lobby Anti-Globalization Rally
The Political Spectrum: Right Wing, Left Wing and Moderates • When people describe their political views, they often refer to themselves as “Right wing” (Conservative), “left wing” (Liberal), or “moderate” (in the middle). • How you place yourself on the Political Spectrum is based on your responses to Political issues. • How do you know what you are?
Liberals • Liberals tend to hold the following Political Views: • Government should be heavily involved in the lives of citizens. • Citizens should have equal opportunities through law (e.g. affirmative action programs) • Strong support of social programs such as welfare, medicare and pensions • Higher taxes to pay for social programs • A small military
Conservatives • Conservatives tend to hold the following views: • There should be minimal government intervention in the economy • Citizens should take greater responsibility for themselves • They believe in traditional values (e.g. religious views on social issues) • Lower taxes to increase global competitiveness • There should be a strong military
Political Spectrum to Political Parties • Where you position yourself on the political spectrum has a direct impact on your choice of political party. • In Canada, “right wingers” tend to vote for the Conservative Party, “left wingers” the NDP and “moderates” the Liberal Party. • Question: Would “liberals” vote for the Liberal Party?
Political Party Platforms • Each political party has their own set of policies on a number of different issues: • Health Care • Taxes/Government Spending • Social Welfare Programs • Social Issues (e.g.Same Sex Marriage) • Job Creation/ Trade Initiatives (e.g. Globalization, NAFTA) • The Military (e.g. the War in Afghanistan)
Political Party Platforms • When a political party presents their ideas before the electorate on a series of issues, they are said to be presenting their Political Platform. • How do you win an election? • By presenting a political platform that represents the views of the majority of the electorate (Canadians, Ontarians, Georgetownians?, etc) Who would you vote for?
Political Party Platforms When you write the Political Platform You want to make sure that the policies Enclosed reflect the prevailing interests Of the majority of Canadians. A strong platform can win an election! What else do you need for electoral success? The Conservative Party’s Platform
Who would you vote for? What is Charisma? • For many, the main ingredient for electoral success is charisma; the ability to inspire the people to join you in a march towards greater prosperity. • Who has Charisma? Barack Obama Hilary Clinton
Charisma Stephane Dion How do you define Charisma? Who has it? Who doesn’t? Do you need it to be successful In Politics? Pierre Elliot Trudeau
How do Political Parties decide which policies to adopt? • There are many different issues that Political Parties need to deal with: • Health Care • The Environment • Taxes/Government Spending • Social Welfare Programs • Social Issues (e.g.Same Sex Marriage) • Job Creation/ Trade Initiatives (e.g. Globalization) • The Military (e.g. the War in Afghanistan). • What should they do? Trade issues are a hot topic!
Political Parties have to Address many issues in their Party Platforms The Environment Health Care
Political Parties have to Address many issues Funding for Education Legal Issues
Political Parties have to Address many issues Social Welfare issues Taxiation: Taxes are too high!!!
Political Parties have to Address many issues • Military spending is always an important issue. For some, spending on infrastructure and Healthcare is more important than funding Canada’s military. • For others, Canada’s lack of sufficient military spending has been an international embarrassment.
Who decides Policy?: Political Party Members • Members of political parties play a key role in determining what will be included in their party’s platform. • By voting at conventions, they make their voices heard. The candidates of the various parties understand what is popular on the convention floor. Members of the Conservative party showing their support for Stephen Harper. How did he win the nomination to be leader?
Who decides Policy?: Political Party Members These delegates support Stephane Dion. What policy Did Dion implement to get their support? Hint: Scarves
Who decides Policy?: International Pressures • Canada’s largest trading partner is the United States. • When you live next door to the world’s most powerful nation, you want to make sure that your policies do not have an adverse affect on the relationship. • Hot topics include: • Trade (e.g. NAFTA) • Military Spending • Border Security (post 9/11) • Drug Policy (Marijuana Reform, Pharmaceuticals) Canada/U.S. Relations
Who decides Policy?: International Pressures • With respect to Foreign Policy, a Canadian Federal Party needs to recognize its international obligations; especially as a member of the NATO Alliance. • Why did Canada get involved in the war in Afghanistan? • A threat towards a NATO nation is a threat towards all. • In other words, we’re going! The NATO Alliance
Canada has extended its mission In Afghanistan until 2011. Did Stephen Harper have a choice When his party adopted this policy Option?
Who decides Policy?: The Supreme Court • When a political party adopts policies, it needs to make sure that those policies do not contradict the Charter of Rights and Freedoms • It would be very embarrassing for the government if one of their policies was struck down by the Supreme Court as “un-constitutional” • A policy banning same sex marriage could be in violation of the Charter of Rights The Supreme Court of Canada
Who decides Policy?: Interest Groups • Interest groups try to influence policy makers to adopt laws in accordance with their views. • Ducks Unlimited tries to influence environmental policies. • The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) tries to influence trade policies (e.g. Nafta). • Some interest groups are more effective than others. Why would this be the case?
Who decides Policy?: Interest Groups • Some Interest Groups like the CFIB are very influencial with parties like the Conservative Party while groups like the CLC are popular with the NDP. • However, some groups are so radical (contraversial) that main stream parties are afraid to take up their cause (e.g. GreenPeace). • Can the tactics of Greenpeace still be effective? Is the support of the mainstream parties necessary? The CFIB Greenpeace making their point!
Who decides Policy?: You? • Admittedly, it is difficult to affect government policies by yourself. • However, you can make your voice heard in opinion polls (politicians care about these!) • You can protest in the streets. If there is enough of you, they will care about that too! Opinion Polls Can you do in on your own?
Interest Groups: Lobbyists • Lobbyists are paid by corporations to influence public policy. • For instance, if you are a company that wants low corporate taxes, you “lobby” the government for lower taxiation. • If you want to secure a large government contract, you hire a lobbyist to “bend the ear” of the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet. • Some Lobbyists are highly influencial; especially former prime ministers! Former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney (left) Acted as a Lobbyist for Airbus Corporation Represented by Karl-Heinz Schrieber (right) Should Lobbying be legal?
Canada’s Political Parties • Based on their Party Platforms, who would you vote for?
Remember: They want your Vote! • Although you need to be 18 to vote in Canadian Federal elections, the main political parties care about your opinions. • Why is this so? Why are the “young liberals” so important to the Liberal Party of Canada? • What role do you want to play in politics? Do you want to join a political party? Explain your answer! The Liberal “Youth Wing”
What have we learned? • Key Terms • The Political Spectrum • Mainstream Political Issues • Political Parties in Canada • Electoral Success • How to influence the Creation of Policies • How to become involved in politics. • Future Directions