NDP Leader, Jagmeet Singh, launched the NDP platform, A New Deal for People, on June 16 in Hamilton, Ontario during the Ontario NDP’s weekend-long convention. The NDP platform was released months before the campaign formally begins. The launch was ahead of when most modern political campaigns in an election race would normally launch theirs, it was ahead of the House adjourning for the summer and ahead of the writ dropping for the upcoming October election.
Clearly, the strategy of Jagmeet Singh and the NDP is to set themselves apart from the other parties early and to allow voters a chance to familiarize themselves with the new leader and his policies. Singh has not been very visible to the public since he only won a seat in Parliament in February after being leader for nearly two years now. It also gives his candidates an ability to discuss all the issues in the platform ahead of the actual campaign and when they begin to knock on doors to build their support over the summer.
The NDP platform presents their vision for Canada, as a country where money is reinvested in the people and provides public services people can count on while making life more affordable. It presents their promises, including to reform the health care system and expand the services provided beyond pharmacare. It also includes higher taxes for corporations and the wealthy. This platform does not indicate how much these commitments will cost or a lot of details about how these promises will be implemented. An actual costing of the platform may come out in the future as this has become somewhat of a requirement in modern Canadian political campaigns where parties vie to find credible economists to cost their promises and help them defend against attacks from their opponents. Singh has also not said when a New Democrat government would balance the budget.
In providing a platform that promises a significant expansion of Canada’s social programs paid for by corporations and those viewed as wealthy, the NDP is trying to retake ground it has lost over the past few years to both the Green Party and the Liberals. The Liberals continue to tack left as they view their path to victory requires taking more of the so-called progressive vote, ceding the right and even centre-right to the Conservatives. The NDP needs to re-establish itself as a credible alternative on the left in order to stop its free fall in the polls. Polls shows that the New Democrats are stuck in third, with an average of 13-14% of support across the country. That would give them not more than 20 seats. The NDP has currently 41 MP’s.
Only time will tell if this approach is enough to help the NDP regain the support it has lost over the last number of years and stay relevant in the face of a stronger Green Party, resurgent Bloq in Quebec and a more left-leaning Federal Liberal party than the country has seen in some time.