For those looking to be more informed on who and what they are voting for, we’ve presented are a breakdown of each of the major political parties.
The Conservative Party of Canada: 159 seats in the House of Commons.
Currently governing Canada with Prime Minister Harper as its head, The CPC is actually Canada’s newest party, being founded in 2003 through the merging of the Progressive Conservatives and the Canadian Alliance.
The Progressives were a historically “Anglo Party” being defined by its strong rooted English culture and traditionalism. A prime example of this is former Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, who contested the replacement of the Union Jack (our old flag) to the maple leaf.
A popular modern figure from the progressives was Prime Minister Brian Mulroney, called a neoconservative by his contemporaries who championed lower taxes deregulation and privatization of various sectors including the government.
The Reform Party and the Canadian Alliance were in many ways a response to the blurring between liberal and conservatives in the 1980s and 90’s and can be seen as a return to more classical conservative values which would eventually merge with the Progressives to found the Conservative Party of Canada with Harper and Peter McKay each running the Progressives and the Canadian Alliance respectively.
Today, the Conservatives campaign lowering taxes, less government involvement, hard-handed justice, military involvement (generally not as peacekeepers) and a focus on traditional Canadian values.
The New Democratic Party: 95 seats in the House of Commons.
The NDP trace their founding to the Great Depression and at the time were called the CCF. They preached socialist ideals and encouraged the removal of capitalism in Canada. Nearly 70 years later, the NDP have greatly distanced themselves from their hard Marxist beliefs to a more modern social democratic platform that champions mixed economics and more government regulation.
Generally a third tier party, the NDP saw rapid growth in popularity and government involvement when they gained 65 seats in the 2011 federal election. This gain in political recognition is often attributed to Jack Layton, a man revered for his charismatic personality as well as his ability to bring Quebec into the fold.
Today, the NDP can be defined as a party similar to the Liberals, but with more socially conscious platforms as well as a fondness for social equality, the party is currently lead by Thomas Mulcair.
The Liberal Party Of Canada: 36 seats in the House of Commons.
The Liberal Party was historically founded by French Canadians and Catholics, but quickly became more of a centralist party favouring free market and individual accountability as well as encouraging positive relations between the English and French Canadians (a major issue of the day).
In its early years, the Liberals were best in composed by Sir Wilfrid Laurie, a Prime Minister who valued common sense combined with moderate liberal ideals.
The Liberals came to a prominent role in Canadian society when under Pierre Trudeau, one of Canada’s longest reigning Prime Ministers who is often revered as the embodiment of Canadian Liberalism. Sceptical of the loose regulatory practices of the conservatives regarding economics, Trudeau preached that a more active Canadian Government could help end the countries social and economic problems all for the purpose of creating a “just society”. Today Trudeau is remembered best for his multiculturalism, foreign policy and balance between French-English relations.
Currently the Liberals are recovering from their biggest loss in history losing over 70 seats in the 2011 election. In terms of platforms, Liberals can be described as fiscally more conservative but socially progressive, supporting gay marriage, abortion rights, immigration.The Liberals are currently lead by Justin Trudea, Pierre Trudeau’s son.
The Bloc Quebecois: 2 seats in the House of Commons.
At the heart of the Bloc is one of Canada’s oldest political debates: whether Quebec should be separate and be autonomous from the rest of Canada. People who endorse this belief are often referred to as “separatists” in contemporary culture.
The Bloc was founded in 1990 by Lucien Bouchard, a previous member of the Progressive Conservatives and was the first mainstream political party to endorse separatism. Being a party based around Quebec separation, the Bloc never runs candidates in any other province and thus are representationally speaking unable to form a federal government. Further, voting Bloc can be seen as a vote of “no-confidence” in the federal government choosing to priorities provincial issues as opposed to federal ones.
Politically, the Bloc is left wing and besides the issues of separation, often support platforms and issues that would be relevant to the NDP party, which is ironic considering that the Bloc lost 46 seats following the 2011 federal election. This paved the way for the NDP to become the official opposition for the first time in history; all on the heels of the Bloc who lost many of their home ridings to NDP candidates.
Green Party: 2 seats in the House of Commons.
While spending the majority of its political life on the fringes of Canadian culture, the Green Party has seen minor gains, winning its first riding with Elizabeth May in 2011. Since then, the Greens have won an additional seat as they continue to advocate for a more sustainable Canada.
Originally founded in 1983 with the sole purpose of raising awareness to environmental concerns, the Green party under leaders like Jim Harris, moved towards centralist ideals for voters who had become disillusioned with other central parties, all the while offering a more simple approach to addressing the political problems of Canada without the unnecessary bureaucratic process of Ottawa.