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Conservative Party (CPC): Family, Parenting and Women's Issues

This week, I’ll be posting highlights from the platforms of Canada’s five major political parties, focusing on their policies and promises with regards to family, parenting and women’s issues. I am going to try (but do not promise!) to simply report on or summarize what they have promised, rather than providing colour commentary in my posts. However, I am happy to have detailed conversations about the value and feasibility of the proposals in the comments on each post.

Image Credit: Conservative Party of Canada

Conservative Party of Canada

The full platform of the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) is available online at: http://www.conservative.ca/policy/platform_2011/. The Conservatives platform focuses on five priorities: create jobs, support families, eliminate the deficit, make our streets safe,  and stand on guard fro Canada.

Some of the key promises relating to family, parenting and women's issues are:

Taxes and Jobs

  • Keep taxes as they are, but allow income splitting for up to $50,000 of a family's earnings after the federal budget is balanced.

  • Doubling the Children's Fitness Tax Credit (to $1000) once the budget is balanced.

  • Establish a Children's Arts Tax Credit to cover up to $500 per child in qualifying expenses for eligible arts or cultural activities (I've written about this proposal previously).

  • Establish an Adult Fitness Tax Credit of up to $500 .

  • Establish a Family Caregiver Tax Credit of $2,000.

  • Top up Guaranteed Income Supplement, providing an additional $600 per year for single seniors and up to $840 per year for senior couples.

  • Implement Pooled Retirement Pension Plan that self-employed workers can opt into.

  • Doubling the tax-free savings account limit once the federal budget is balanced.

  • Provide training for Canadians who are out of work.

  • One year EI break for small businesses to encourage them to hire new employees.

  • Prohibit federally regulated employers from setting a mandatory retirement age and extend program designed to help older workers find jobs.

  • Enhance Wage Earner Protection Program to help pay wages and vacation pay to workers whose employers go bankrupt.

Education and Training

  • Enhance and extend Canada Student Loans program, providing more access to part-time students in particular.

  • Provide loans to recent immigrants to help pay for skills training and accreditation.

  • Expand adult basic education programming in the territories in order to increase education and employment levels among Aboriginals in the North.

Health Care

  • Renew the Federal-Provincial Health Accord and emphasize the need for results on wait times.

  • Defribillators in every hockey arena in Canada.

  • Forgive a portion of the federal student loans fordoctors and nurses who agree to practice in under-served rural or remote areas.

Housing and Community Infrastructure

  • Extend the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program by one year.

  • Supporting environmental safety upgrades to fuel tanks and promoting the deployment of clean energy technologies in Aboriginal, rural and remote communities.

  • Permanent funding for municipal infrastructure by making the Gas Tax Fund permanent (via new legislation).

  • Improve and expand Canada's snowmobile and recreational trails.

Women's Issues

  • Will continue to rally world leaders to follow through on commitments to improve the health of women and children in developing countries.


  • A variety of measures to be "tough on crime", but also an end to the long-gun registry.

What do you think of the Conservative platform? Do their promises sound like a good fit for your family? For Canada?

Please also check out my Care2 Causes post called Tools to Help You Navigate the Canadian Election and my Bad Moms Club post called If the Political Parties Were Bad Moms. If you want to discuss politics with other moms, also be sure to check out the #momthevote hash tag on twitter and the Mom The Vote facebook page.
« My Election Strategy: Engage Passionately, Invest Strategically, Vote Tactically | Main | Bloc Quebecois (BQ): Family, Parenting and Women’s Issues »

Reader Comments (25)

Let me be the first to comment on this post. My biggest concern with the Conservative Party isn't what is included in it (although there are some aspects that I do not like). My bigger concern is what is NOT included in it. There are things that cost money and things that do not cost money that I think are critically important and that this party continues to ignore.

For example, the only mentions of women's issues in their platform are the need for financial support for elderly single females and the need to support maternal health in developing countries. Outside of a one segment of elderly women, there is absolutely nothing to address important issues around women's equality and health here in Canada.

Another example is the lack of a child care strategy. Similar to the Liberals thinking that $1000 per year = a university education, the Conservatives seem to feel that $100 per month = child care. Unfortunately, it doesn't even come close to the investment that is needed to both create the spaces and make them accessible/affordable to those Canadians who need them.

There is also very little on the environment and true sustainability.

I could go on, but ultimately my point is that throwing small amounts of money at families (e.g. sports and arts credits) are just gifts intended to buy votes rather than real solutions to real problems.

April 23, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

If you can't afford rent over your family's head, an arts credit is worth nothing. I'm just saying. You have to make enough to pay taxes to benefit from anything the Harper government is offering.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLorien

I also definitely noticed the lack of concern about women and child care in their platform. I see no real incentives for voting for them because they have nothing to offer me, based on the above mentioned things.

What also struck me (besides the other good points listed in previous comments) is the clause "when the budget is balanced." So does this mean if they don't balance said budget, they will be null and void anyways? Then why bother even mentioning it? Or perhaps I'm just not understanding that statement correctly.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelleD

"I could go on, but ultimately my point is that throwing small amounts of money at families (e.g. sports and arts credits) are just gifts intended to buy votes rather than real solutions to real problems."

I would counter that the promises of other parties are intended to swindle votes. The clearest sign is that parties are making promises, such as health care, education, environment, and welfare, that are constitutionally within provincial jurisdiction. The Conservatives and Bloc don't make promises in those areas because they know that they cannot deliver those promises. NDP especially does make those promises because they don't understand the division of powers within Canada or they are dishonest. Liberals understand somewhat too, but they make promises that seem lame because they mostly stick within federal jurisdiction, so they end up being "For health, we'll change food labeling laws and produce some videos to tell you that being fat is unhealthy." NDP promise of a doctor in every town sounds a lot better because NDP conveniently don't have to worry about implementing the promise since they'll never get a majority -- in the meantime they get a shade over $2 in federal funding for every vote that those promises generate.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

Exactly. How am I supposed to benefit from a tax credit for hockey if I can't afford it in the 1st place? If harper wants to promote active lifestyles & art/culture he should be funding facilities & organizations that offer these programs so that they are accessible to ALL families.

I am also horrified that the conservative 'continued focus on maternal health' does not include birth control or abortion services... as if those aspects of reproductive health just don't exist because the Harper government said so!?

There is a FB link floating around with a whole list of the women's organizations that have had their funding cut with Harper at the wheel.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJulian

Another example is the lack of a child care strategy. Similar to the Liberals thinking that $1000 per year = a university education, the Conservatives seem to feel that $100 per month = child care. Unfortunately, it doesn’t even come close to the investment that is needed to both create the spaces and make them accessible/affordable to those Canadians who need them.

That plus in what world does child care expenses end at the age of 6? As far as I am aware you cannot leave a child alone until 12. Most parents of young kids pay for after school care because most jobs don't have flexible enough hours to accommodate family time.

Also none of this is enough to have me vote for this liar. Even if my morals would allow it, I will never make enough money to vote conservative.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRenee Martin

Perfecting Dad:

I read the promises that the parties are making about health care, education, environment and so on. All of the parties appear quite conscious of the division of powers and have proposed a variety of ways of working with the provinces to make things happen. They are not overstepping any constitutional boundaries. Certainly, the provinces would counter that they should just transfer more money without any strings attached at all, but I don't think any of the federal parties would agree to that.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Annie - I just wanted to thank you for taking on this important task of distilling the party platforms on family, parenting and women's issues. It is a lot of work and it is greatly appreciated!

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea Doucet

I just had a look at the NDP platform, since I would probably vote for them if they actually did have a plan, but their plans for health for example are prefixed by the words:

"We will work with the provinces and territories ..."

All their so-called specific promises are really just things that they will talk with the provinces about doing. It's not a new idea to any province that there should be doctors to serve people so I doubt that the provinces will be suddenly convinced.

I like what the NDP says. I hate that I don't have a family doctor. I hate that friends of mine have cancer but they seem to have to wait too long for treatment, of that other friends of mine have to wait months for MRIs even though there are MRIs available except they are private or unstaffed, I hate that friends have decided to live with damaged knees because of a two year wait for surgery. I hate that there are people who are caught willing but unable to work because of the high cost of child-care. I hate that there are other people who are able to work but unwilling because of untuned incentives. I know a whole family, childhood friends, where all the males (father and three sons) have somehow become chronically injured and are unable to work while their wives work -- what are the chances of that? Bad genetics or bad incentives? I hate the stories from my friend at the ER where he tells me that homeless or poor have learned to call an ambulance as a taxi, and if they need a place to sleep and a free meal they know just the kinds of symptoms to fake so that they are monitored over night at a cost of a few thousand to the tax payer. If Layton could get me a doctor and could get all those people jobs or whatever help they really need then that would be absolutely awesome. I just don't believe he can. But maybe. It would be really great if he were official opposition because he really shows that, compared to the Liberals, he really knows how to get the conservatives to move on important issues.

Conservatives are no good either. Nobody's worth voting for. None of the pie-in-the-sky platforms can be believed, except perhaps the Bloc, but their federal platform is mainly to be jerks to the rest of Canada.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Dad

I just want to say on this issue, that I think that the whole practice of party platform promises to get votes, rather then solid plans based on reality, is one of the biggest problems with the Canadian political system. I know this issue is not one that Canada faces alone- but the truth is that in order to really make positive change on any issue it takes time and major change. But voters don't want major change, nor are they willing to give a party time. (The reaction to Obama's government where people got cynical very quickly when things didn't change over night is a good example).

Our system is set up to encourage parties to throw out vote-getting piecemeal promises rather then fixing core issues. Which is why gst tax cuts and $100/month taxable child care credits and $1000/year for education are what many of the platforms are based on. It is important that we, as voters, get educated and figure out what we really want... not just clamor at the notion of being sent a check.

Which is why this series you are doing, Annie, is great. The more we know, the more we can make better choices. Thanks.

Exactly. Certainly things are hard for middle class families, but they are even harder for low income families. I would rather see the money go to fund the facilities and organizations so they are accessible to everyone too.

And I have seen that video on Facebook- it is so well done.

Perfecting Dad:

The "work with the provinces/territories" speaks to the approach and the respect for the division of responsibility. However, there is also $25 million annually in the proposed NDP budget for the doctors/nurses promise. So the "work with the provinces/territories" is about figuring out the best way to invest those funds in each province/territory to achieve the desired results.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


I think you are write about the party platform promises. Parties strive for a majority, which would allow them to push a bunch of little things through. If they don't have one, they play a game of give and take with other parties until they have a chance to try for a majority again. This is why I think electoral reform is so important. If we had a system of proportional representation, majority governments would be almost impossible and parties would need to learn to work together, rather than just looking for that majority to shove things through.

April 24, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Yes and Yes. I so wish we had proportional representation. I know it is what more and more Canadians want and it would be so much better for our political system. Now- how do we make it happen?

I also want to know what 'When the budget is balanced' means. I thought I read earlier that they don't think they can get it balanced for YEARS.

I'm just plain tired of living in a Conservative Canada and reading their platform confirms this feeling for me. I feel like their platform doesn't 'fit' with our life. Perhaps if I was a rich man it would.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I would think so, and the record budget deficit that's in the way is their own creation. Look also at what expensive promises are to be implemented right away, not contingent on balancing the budget: corporate tax cuts, harsher prison sentences, shiny no-bid warplanes… shows where their actual priorities lie.

April 25, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I'm working on a post explaining how I decide who to vote for. I started writing a bit about my thoughts on the Conservatives, but then decided I want that post to be more about my thought process than about the parties themselves. So I thought I would drop those comments in here.

One reason I cannot vote for the conservatives is their lack of transparency or interest in dialogue. The Conservatives consistently refuse to engage with groups that are seeking change for our country. Whether it is on Environmental Issues (Environmental Defence), Children's Rights (UNICEF), Food Policy (People's Food Policy Project), the one party that consistently does not answer the questions that are sent to them by major non-governmental organizations is the Conservative Party. If they will not affirm their support (or lack thereof) for issues of importance to our country, then why should I or anyone else place any trust with them? If they don't think these issues are important, certainly they should be confident enough in that stance to explain why their position is better than the one being proposed by these organizations? Stephen Harper is also known for his gag orders of bureaucrats and members of his own caucus, as well as the firing of senior bureaucrats who disagree with him.

I also think that their approach to being "tough on crime" is completely off-base. When a party feels that crime rates are better addressed through "tough sentences" in expensive mega-prisons, instead of addressing poverty, homelessness, mental health and addiction issues, then those prisons are just going to get bigger and bigger and costlier and costlier over time.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting


You are right. They say it will take at least several years to balance the budget.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterphdinparenting

Tough on UNICEF! Just imagine the Cons not answering the door for the kids with the orange boxes wanting change for cholera treatment and mosquito nets. Given that they struck a bunch of really impoverished African countries off our foreign aid priorities to put on a bunch of cash-strapped but not desperate ones in the Americas, this isn't far off the mark Think of the children!

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterEric

I agree with your assessment of Conservative lack of transparency and cooperation. Although I generally believe in most conservative ideals like small government, self-sufficiency, private enterprise, etc. I do not think that bullying, hiding information, unilateral decisions, and brinksmanship are conservative ideals so I am disappointed in how they handle some issues. I also want my government to take responsibility for the environment, and to make sure that nobody starves, or suffers or dies because of lack of medical care, keep law and order, give all citizens equal opportunity, be a competent international player, and ensure that future generations are also cared for and not worse off than we are.

I don't think that any of the parties will even come close to meeting my desires but I think a Conservative and strong NDP minority would be the closest. Hopefully the conservatives do not get a majority and NDP can be the opposition.

April 26, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPerfecting Parenthood

Agreed. Skimming through that, the only things that really jump out are "tax credit for"... People with an income low enough to need help paying for sports and art are not going to benefit from tax credits. The only people who will save money are those who don't really need it in the first place.

April 27, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCarly

Oh, I so agree with you on the 'tough on crime' front. It so bothers me this assessment of crime as being people being bad bad and needing more discouragement. But most crime has more to do with the exact issues that you mentioned: poverty, homelessness, mental health and addictions. We need a compassionate society that try's to prevent and deal with these issues- that is the best way to prevent most crime. I don't think tougher sentences deters anyone and it certainly doesn't stop people from re-offending.

Very true. And don't get me started on the harsher prison sentences and more money for more prisons platform Harper is trying to push through. I know the whole "get tough on crime" mandate gets votes, but it is completely wasted money in terms of the supposed benefits. Its too bad the public isn't more aware of criminology issues (I teach criminology courses). First, the crime rates are at the lowest they have been for over 20 years. Actually, the highest rates of crime, including homicide (considered to be the most serious), was at its peak in 1976. Our homicide rate in 1976 was 3.0/100,000 (that is 3 murders for every 100,000 people in the population) and today it is about 1.8. Crime rates are not on the rise and neither are violent crimes. They keep dropping or remaining fairly stable and so the mandate to "get tough on crime" and therefore having harsher prison sentences makes no sense except it cost more money to have more people in prison. But people are afraid of being victimized and it resonates with them and therefore they vote to get tough on criminals that don't really exist. The greatest number of crimes are committed by 18-24 year olds and the greatest proportion of victims are 18-24 year olds. Therefore, older demographics, who are persuaded by this argument, are the least likely to be affected by crime. Moreover, much research indicates that these "tough on crime" policies actually do not work.

Sorry for my extended rant. I just want to bang my head when I hear politicians misuse statistics and scare people to win votes on the (supposed) crime problem that doesn't exist. Especially when there is lack of attention on issues that are more important and worth spending money on.

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelleD

I also addressed the "tough on crime" issue above, but wanted to add here. No, tougher sentences does not deter anyone from committing crime and/or re-offending. Research continues to provide evidence that "deterrence" policies (getting tough) do not have any impact on crime rates.

April 28, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMichelleD

Mr Harper has interfered with women's rights to free choice and abortion by lifting these legal rights from the funding for the African Maternal and Infant Health millions that is donated with our tax dollars. As I write, thousand of girls as young as 12 and 13 are being gang raped in African countries by both rebel and government forces/men and being made to complete full term pregnancies, the pain of childbirth and having unwanted babies. This is a strong indication that Conservative Party policy leads to eventually taking away women's rights to free choice. If we look at the laws concerning these rights in Scandinavian countries we can see that education is the answer to lowering the number of abortions and that it involves sex education at an early age, another belief not endorsed by the Conservative Party. There is an influence of the religious right in Mr Harper's strategy and as a Canadian, I am astonished that not one politician or media person has brought up the separation of church and state a situation that is essential to any democracy.

April 30, 2011 | Unregistered Commentermaggie burtinshaw

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