The problem with the term political party is that it is misleading. There often is not a keg, or red solo cups or even a whole lot of music.
In fact they use the term party, in its other sense meaning a group of individuals with a common purpose and goal.
I know, I’m upset by the false advertising too! But hear me out.
Political parties are important. They unite people who share a common philosophical and political outlook on the world to advance their goals in an elected legislature. They combine the resources of many into a focused effort on gaining political power in a democracy in order to enact their policies. It could be argued that, for political parties, the whole is worth more than the sum of its parts.
So what do political parties actually do?
Political parties are constituted of members who want to see their candidates win public office and enact their policies in government legislation and regulation. They are legally incorporated, have both national (or provincial, if it’s a provincial political party) boards, as well as boards in each riding. The policies are proposed and voted on by the members of the political parties at their national (or provincial) policy conventions.
So what are the political parties in Canada?
Federally, there are five major political parties in Canada:
Conservative Party of Canada
The Conservatives (also known as Tories) are one of two political parties that have won government since Canada was confederatedin 1867. The party is known on the right of the political spectrum advocating for policies such as:
- Lower taxes overall
- Less government regulation
- Smaller bureaucracy
- More stringent criminal legislation
- Updated and actively deployed armed forces
- Free trade with other nations
Liberal Party of Canada
The Liberals (also known as Grits) is the other political party to have won government. The party is known to be in the centre of the political spectrum advocating for policies such as:
- Lower taxes in some areas (personal taxes), but higher in other areas (consumption taxes such as GST)
- More government regulation and bureaucracy in some areas (such as review of natural resource projects)
- Less stringent criminal legislation
- Free trade with some nations (CETA with the European Union), but not with others (TPP with some Pacific nations)
New Democratic Party of Canada
The New Democrats (also known the NDP) have never won government, however, have been the Official Opposition once in its relatively short history (when compared to the Conservatives and Liberals). The party is known to be on the left of the political spectrum advocating for policies such as:
- Higher corporate taxes
- More government regulation
- The use of armed forces for mainly peace-keeping purposes
- Very little free-trade with other nations
- Supportive of unionization of workers in most industries
Green Party of Canada
The Greens have never won government or been the Official Opposition. In fact, they have only ever elected one Member of Parliament. However, unlike the other political parties, they do not fall anywhere specific on the political spectrum. Some of their policies are more right-wing and others more left-wing. However, all their policies are seen through an environmental lense and advocate for policies such as:
- Implementation of a national carbon tax
- Cancelling tax incentives for logging and mineral exploration
- Elimination of oil and gas subsidies
The Bloc Quebecois (also known simply as the Bloc)have never won government, however they were the Official Opposition in the 35th Parliament (1993-1997). The Bloc is neither left-wing nor right-wing, but was initially founded in the 1980s from a variety of politicians from all parts of the political spectrum that were united in their vision for a separate Quebec from the Dominion of Canada.
So why does this matter to pro-lifers?
What we hope that you noticed is that life issues are not major issues for any of the political parties and one can be pro-life and not necessarily be a Conservative. The life issue transcends party politics. According to a study we commissioned in May 2016, 49% of those who voted Liberal and 53% of those who voted NDP in the October 2015 federal election want some sort of restriction on abortion.
It is best to find out which political party best represents your views on a whole host of other issues. Then, when you have found your political home, get a hold of us to make that home pro-life.
Above all, in every election, always vote pro-life first. As pro-lifers, we need to influence party politics, but we must be pro-life before we are partisan.