BLUESKY BRIEF - August 18th

It’s evident that mandatory vaccinations are becoming a key wedge issue of the 2021 campaign. Tactically the Liberals hope to benefit from this, while the Conservatives and the NDP hope to shift the narrative over to pocketbook issues and the lines that they hope to draw between their offerings and “we’ve got your back” narrative of the incumbent government.

Each of the leaders and their campaigns will need to keep a close watch on their tone as well as their content. It’s not unruly - yet. Voters become more sophisticated every campaign and may tune out to an overly acrimonious, divisive campaign.

One message that will not get ignored as it has been a mainstay in past elections, is affordable daycare right across the country. Today, our team of political observers is here to give you their thoughts on the best option for Canadian parents.

From the desk of Raphael Brass, Senior Consultant

Like so many other new parents, my wife and I faced a tremendously difficult time finding a child care spot for our first child. Now that we have found a spot, we are earmarking far more of our monthly budget to hold that place in daycare. For too many Canadians, the cost and lack of availability of child care leave many parents deciding to stay home. All too often, mothers delay their return to work to look after their children, an issue that was further exacerbated during the pandemic lockdowns. This leaves families with less money in their pockets and increases the financial burden of parenting. On a macro level, the lack of affordable childcare spaces, stalling the re-entry of parents (usually women) into the workforce, continues to hamper Canada’s economic growth and will decelerate our recovery following COVID-19.

To address this, the Liberal government has spent the last several months inking widely popular deals with eight Conservative, Liberal, and New Democratic provincial and territorial governments to provide $10-a-day child care within five years. This plan will see the creation of thousands of affordable child care spots throughout Canada. Alberta and Ontario have not yet agreed to this plan (Conservative politics perhaps?), but all indications are that Ontario and the feds remain close to reaching an agreement.

Not missing an opportunity to be offside with Canadian families, Erin O’Toole and his Conservatives are now pledging to scrap these deals and these posts for a tax credit and therefore not create a single new child care spot. This opens a big wedge issue between the parties, and the Liberals intend to drive a bus through it throughout the campaign. (Of note, the Martin Liberals (remember Ken Dryden?) also secured childcare deals with the provinces, that were torpedoed when the Harper Conservatives won the election).

The Liberal plan will help families while meaningfully growing the economy. In a few years, I hope that families across this country will not face the struggles we did to find a child care spot while having more money in their pocketbooks.

From the desk of Neil Brodie, Vice President

Choice. The Liberal left LOVE to talk about choice. Justin Trudeau made it the hallmark of his 2015 campaign, every new candidate had to pledge to be pro-choice (just don’t look at those returning candidates who were staunchly pro-life). It was also front and center in 2018 when the Liberals decided that government funding of summer jobs would be tied to pro-choice attestations required from applicants.

Enter the Liberal child care plan which would reduce daycare costs by 50% for a small number of daycare spots for the urban elite, mirroring the Québec model. But no choice for parents. If you want cheap daycare you go to a government daycare centre.

The Conservative plan sees a universal, refundable tax credit of 75% of the cost of daycare. Universal so every parent in Canada can access it whether you live in Victoria, Vaughan or Val-d’Or. Refundable, so even if a parent pays no tax, the tax benefit will be paid to the parent. And the parent can choose where their child attends daycare. This is a benefit that can be brought in quickly through a simple piece of legislation and allow parents to take advantage of it within months of the election. Unlike the announcement-heavy, action-lite Liberals, whose plan doesn’t take shape for at least 5 years, likely more since the government isn’t known for its speed. Couple this plan with the Conservatives' announcement today, a GST holiday for the entire month of December, and you see a Party trying to make life more affordable for all Canadians.

From the desk of Cameron Holmstrom, Consultant

So far this campaign has featured debates on new topics of immediate importance, like mandatory vaccines. Yet it only took a few days into this once-in-a-generation campaign for the debate to come around to a topic that we’ve been debating for generations; childcare.

I wasn’t even in high school yet when the Liberals included a national childcare plan in their Red Book. And it wasn’t until a month before this election that we finally started to see the outlines of any such program from a Liberal government. They are running on a $10/day national childcare program…. eventually. Since June, they have signed agreements with eight provinces, which is a start. But Ontario still has a massive hold out and there are no guarantees of new childcare spaces for years to come.

If the Conservatives get into power, they have pledged to eliminate those agreements and bring back a program similar to Stephen Harper’s tax credits. That was a failed approach that didn’t create any childcare spaces, but that doesn’t seem to matter to Erin O’Toole. He wants to essentially offer Canadians a coupon for childcare spaces that don’t exist.

Neither of those approaches helps parents who need affordable childcare now. There are many open questions about how much of a priority this is for the Liberals between elections after they got people's votes. They didn’t act for six years, yet with an election on the horizon, they got eight agreements signed within a month. The NDP proposes to move with the same urgency that the Liberals find at election time, but right from the start. By calling this unnecessary election now, the Liberals have put that all at risk for their political advantage. Kind words and platitudes don’t create childcare spaces. The NDP promises to go from words to actual action, right away.

If re-elected, the Liberal party will continue to move forward with their $10 a day, Canada-wide child care system for families. This plan would help Canadian parents by:

  • Reducing fees for child care by 50 per cent in the next year;

  • Delivering $10-a-day child care within five years everywhere outside of Quebec; and

  • Working with the province of Quebec to build on its world-class, affordable child care system, improve working conditions for educators, and create more spaces for families.

For the Conservatives, a pocketbook pledge in the form of a month-long GST holiday was announced. Leader Erin O’Toole stressed that this tax break would be for all purchases at brick and mortar/mom and pop stores to help put $1.5 billion back in the pockets of Canadians and drive “demand for products sold in store.”

In British Columbia, NDP leader Jagmeet Singh announced a commitment to stop the Liberal’s “massive no-strings-attached giveaways to multinational corporations.” If elected, an NDP government would invest in small and community businesses with an industrial strategy to encourage and expand domestic manufacturing capacity.

Green Party leader remained in Toronto and called for “swift, decisive” international action on Afghanistan to protect Afghan civilians and global security. She reiterated her call to reconvene Parliament for an emergency debate.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau emphatically states that Canada will not recognize the Taliban as a legitimate government - one a day after his Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau comments on CBC Power and Politics. The Conservative and NDP leaders have reiterated the same thing saying that there is no intention of recognizing the Taliban as the government in Afghanistan.

Wonky attack ad gets pulled and making the rounds on social media as is Conservative leader Erin O’Toole’s answer to Global BC anchor Neetu Garcha’s question about who approved the ad.

And finally, anti-vaccination protestors greet Liberal leader Justin Trudeau in Aurora, Ontario.

Here is where you can expect the leaders to be today (all times in Eastern):

Justin Trudeau, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada is in British Columbia today and will make an announcement at noon from the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Erin O’Toole, Leader of the Conservative Party of Canada is in La Belle Province where, at 9 am, he will make an announcement and hold a press conference. Then at 5:30 p.m., he’ll make an announcement at the Hangar Chrono/Lux FBO air hangar before attending an event with supporters at restaurant Le 737.

Jagmeet Singh, Leader of the NDP is in British Columbia, where he will make an announcement and hold a media availability at noon. Then beginning at 4 pm, he will discuss long-term care in a virtual event with the NDP candidate for Winnipeg North, discuss housing in a virtual event with the NDP candidate for Essex and visit local business Ayoub's Dried Fruits & Nuts in Burnaby.

Annamie Paul, Leader of the Green Party of in Toronto, where she will campaign in the Moss Park neighbourhood at 12:00 p.m. ET. She’ll make an announcement about Canada’s social safety net at 2:30 p.m. ET at Sherbourne St. and Queen St.

Yves Blanchet, Leader of the Bloc Quebecois is in Quebec, where he will speak to the media at 10 am on border management during the pandemic. He will then have lunch at noon with a candidate in Châteauguay then visit local business Robert Thibert Inc. in Châteauguay and visit produce grower Gilles Roy et Fils Ltée in Mercier. He’ll hold another presser on temporary foreign workers at 3 pm then visit Les Marmitons de Mercier, a community organization in Mercier that serves meals to the less fortunate.

Throughout #elxn44, the Bluesky team will be giving their thoughts on things happening on the campaign trail. Senior Consultant @RafiBrass is up first to give his thoughts on child care for What You Need to a Bluesky Minute.

Senior Associate, Lt.-Gen (ret’d) Honourable Andrew Leslie was once again in front of the cameras providing his insight on the ongoing situation in Afghanistan. Here are his interviews from CTV News Channel & and CTV’s Power Play with Evan Soloman.

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