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NDP leaves Tories, Grits behind 
with platform

[PoliticsWatch posted May 26, 2004]

NDP leader Jack Layton promises five balanced budgets.. 

OTTAWA — While the NDP is promising a Canada where no one is left behind, today it left behind the two other national parties in releasing its election platform, which calls for cutting tuition fees and restoring the federal commitment to health-care spending to 25 per cent while at the same time balancing budgets. 

The platform also promises no income tax for those making less than $15,000 a year and increasing taxes on those making over $250,000. 

"We are focused on setting out a positive choice that's about investing in a green economy, health care, education and the other key priorities of the people of Canada," said NDP Leader Jack Layton. "Our platform highlights the fundamental difference between the Liberals and Conservatives and ourselves. They focus on tax cuts - we focus on services for people." 

The NDP estimates its platform will represent a net change to the federal government's budget of $61 billion over the next five years.

The party plans $79 billion in new spending, but predicts this will be offset by "steps to recover tax revenues identified as uncollected by the auditor-general," which they estimate are worth $8.5 billion. 

The party will also increase taxes by $9.5 billion in what it calls "a package of fair tax measures." This includes rolling back corporate tax cuts announced by the Liberals in the 2000 federal budget, increasing taxes on those who make over $200,000 a year and reinstating an inheritance tax on estates over $1 million. 

On health care, the party plans to strengthen the Canada Health Act to stop public money from going to "private, for-profit hospitals." The NDP predicts a that it will be able to strictly enforce the Canada Health Act once it restores federal funding of health-care spending to 25 per cent within two years. They also propose making prescription drug prices lower by amending the patent act to prevent brand-name drug companies from extending their current 20-year patents by using a technical process known as evergreening. 

By unveiling its platform today, the NDP joins the Bloc Quebecois - which released its platform before the election writ was dropped - as the only parties to have a platform out there. 

Liberal Party communications says their platform will be released "all in due course" and "sooner rather than later."

Conservative communications director Jim Armour said his party will release their platform "soon." 

"Don't expect it this week, but soon," said Armour. 

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