Former finance minister’s visit leaves some unanswered questions

Goodale’s presentation was to sell Trudeau, but some questions important to students went unanswered

Former finance minister Ralph Goodale spoke at TRU on June 26. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

Former finance minister Ralph Goodale spoke at TRU on June 26. (Wade Tomko/The Omega)

Across the country, Canadians are gearing up for a long election season, and Kamloops is no different. What is now a steady trickle of party advertising will turn into a raging torrent come later this summer. As such, politicians from all parties have been going city to city, province to province to garner support months in advance. So the reason for Ralph Goodale’s stopover at TRU should come as no surprise.

At the Irving K. Barber Centre, local Liberal candidate Steve Powrie opened up for the former Finance Minister. Powrie blasted the policies of the Harper Government, calling them “incompatible with today’s complex society.” He went on to say, “What I hear most from people, is the need to take Canada back.”

This was Powrie’s and Goodale’s central theme as they urged the audience to do what is “right for Canada” in the upcoming election.

Well, what is right for Canada? Those in the audience would have to wait a while before finding out as Goodale followed up on Powrie’s Harper bashing almost immediately. Although the anti-Conservative rhetoric was definitely high, Goodale did bring up some very important points about the failings of the Harper Government.

Goodale claimed that “No Prime Minister has had a worse record for growth than Harper, with the exception of RB Bennett in the 1930s.” Which few can argue with given the 4 straight months of GDP decline and a youth unemployment rate just under 14 per cent. Though Goodale may have overstepped when he said that under Canada’s last Liberal government we experienced “balanced budgets and the strongest fiscal performance in the western world.” While not completely untrue, many Canadians have not forgotten how Chretien achieved those years of surplus: by hiking taxes and cutting billions in social services and education.

Perhaps this is what scares Canadians the most about the Liberals. But if Goodale can be believed, middle class families can expect tax cuts of up to 7 percent if Trudeau gets into office. Despite tax cuts for families, Goodale promised the business owners in the audience that there would be no hikes to the corporate tax rate, which currently sits at 15 per cent. Something the NDP, on the other hand, is adamant on increasing.

To offset a decrease in taxation, the Liberals will be looking to “invest in infrastructure, as it is the most cost-effective investment government can make to increase growth and create jobs,” which is part of their plan for a “sustained and sustainable” economy. How a sustainable, eco-friendly economy will be created and how the Liberal’s environmental policy will differ from the Conservatives however, Goodale never explained.

The former Finance Minister also unveiled the Liberal’s new child benefit plan which would reduce the cost of raising a child by nearly $30,000. This new plan, unlike the current one, will be related to income, will be tax-free and will be indexed. Unfortunately, when asked about the Liberal’s plans for making post-secondary education more affordable, the only response was to wait and see as they plan on slowly proposing policy changes right up until the actual election.

When it came to discussion period, many in the audience seemed on the fence whether to vote NDP or Liberal. A bad sign for both parties, as the splitting of the progressive vote in the last ten years has led to the Conservative majority that now neither of them seem to be able to defeat.

Many saw the Liberal’s support for Bill C-51 as a betrayal to Canadians, and they aren’t likely to forget that in just three months. Goodale did speak up to defend the bill however, believing that “C-51 has had a material impact in preventing recent terrorist attacks on Canadian soil.” Though he admitted certain amendments needed to be made.

Goodale’s praise for Trudeau seemed endless as well. Knowing the Liberal leader hasn’t had as much experience as Mulcair or Harper, he instead promoted Trudeau as an outgoing family man, whose youth and vigour could create a new Canada. Not everyone bought it. They came to see what policy alternatives the Liberals could offer, but instead got a little second-hand boasting.

Even so, the crowd was receptive to the end, for many of them expect this to be Harper’s last election. And with a good alternative policies and a great leader, perhaps it will. Whose policies those are and who that great leader will be is so far undecided.