NDP leadership hopeful Guy Caron dropped by the Red Papaya Monday to discuss his platform and raise support for his campaign.
He presented his plans for eliminating poverty by guaranteeing a basic income for everyone but his first priority is electoral reform.
“The Liberals promised that 2015 would be the last election held under first-passed-the-post,” said Caron. “The sad news is that they sabotaged the whole process and 2019 will still be under the same system, which leads to a break down in trust among the population that wanted to see change.”
If he becomes leader of the NDP, Caron promises to do all he can to ensure 2019 is the last election held under the present system.
“Under my leadership electoral reform that includes a mixed proportional system would be the first bill tabled and voted on in the house,” he said. “If we are in the position to have the balance of power in a minority government it will be a condition for our support of the government.”
Caron has represented the riding of Rimouski-Neigette-Temiscouta-Les Basques in eastern Quebec since 2011 and has served as NDP critic for finance, industry and natural resources.
He was involved in the student movement in the early 90s and helped with Jack Layton’s leadership campaign in 2002.
He describes himself as a progressive economist who is concerned about the future of his two young children aged five and eight.
“We are at a critical juncture because if we don’t act now the next generation will be worse off than ourselves,” he said. “We haven’t seen that many times in human history. That is because of the economic system we have imposed and lived under for the last 30 years. We need to change the system that drives toward privatization, deregulation and trade agreements that leave so many workers behind.”
One way to reduce economic inequality he said is to guarantee everyone a basic income.
“We use the mechanisms that are already in place to top up everybody’s income be it earned income from labour or be it from social programs to the low income cutoff which varies from place to place,” he said. “In Guelph, it would $19,000 to $20,000 a year.”
The money needed to fund the program would come from removing tax loopholes and by taxing capital.
“The tax system is broken,” said Caron. “The fact that capital is not taxed drives up economic inequality. All of what I am proposing will raise about $31 billion in new taxes without attacking the economy and will ensure inequality is addressed in our tax system.”
He said guaranteeing a basic income has far reaching implications for communities.
“There are some very important benefits coming from it,” said Caron. “The examples we have seen from Manitoba show that, when we remove the stress of trying to survive and provide for your basic needs you are reducing the crime rates, the incarceration rates and decreasing divorce rates. So, there are many positive outcomes coming out of a basic income.”