In Canada's last Federal election, one of the country's leading political parties, the Progressive Conservatives, was ousted with such vehemence by the voters that they were left with only a couple of seats in Parliament. This time around, the PCs are expected to make inroads back into the mainstream. Meanwhile, the burgeoning Reform Party is getting a substantial amount of attention. Canadians will make their decisions this Monday, so to keep you up on world politics, here are the main party sites in Canada to visit. Tomorrow, I'll take you to some of the general Canadian political sites on the Net.
The Liberal Party of Canada
Currently the reigning party lead by Prime Minister Jean Chretien, the Liberals have a lot to lose. At the official party site there are several pages devoted to the PM, including a rather bloodless biography, some campaign photographs, speeches, and video clips addressing the party's main issues: health care and national unity. In the campaign notebook, the Liberals also reiterate the various endorsements they've picked up along the way, including a recent editorial from Quebec City's Le Soleil throwing its support behind Chretien's party. Canadian voters can e-mail the Prime Minister to voice their own concerns, or send a message to their own riding's Liberal candidate. Each province's parliamentary contenders are listed here with pages on each candidate, riding maps, and contact numbers. Those curious about the party's platform can read it here for themselves. Issues such as economic growth and the national health care system are addressed, although with some circumlocution. Overall, the Liberal's webstation is a handy if rather banal Net stop for those looking for the official word from the current leaders.
The Reform Party of Canada...Dissolved in 2000
Attempting to use an advertising strategy that proved successful in political battles in the U.S. and the U.K., the Reform Party's theme is "a fresh start." The party has been picking up steam in the Western provinces of Canada according to recent polls, and at their official site you'll find the official dictums of what is considered to be the country's right-wing party. One of Reform's themes touted here is their plan to keep Quebec in the union by decentralizing the Federal government. Another theme sounded by Preston Manning, the leader of the Reform Party is their strong anti-crime stance. For a breakdown of what the party proposes, there's a copy of the platform online, as well as copies of Canada's constitution. You can even read about what the party line is should Quebec ever succeed in seceding from the rest of the country. As with the other party sites, the Reform Party's pages include links to individual candidate's pages, pages and pages of press releases, and screens touting the party's accomplishments. In general, though, the webstation isn't as well organized as the Liberal site and doesn't offer many snazzy images or multimedia elements that might seduce online voters.
Canada's New Democratic Party
Once considered the most left-wing of Canada's main national political parties, the New Democratic Party or NDP puts up a friendly front on the Web. Its official site isn't as staid as the Liberal or Reform sites, with a smiling picture of party leader Alexa McDonough greeting visitors to the site. There's a profile of McDonough, who was elected leader of the Nova Scotia NDP in 1980, the first woman to head up a major political party in Canada. Furthermore, there are pages outlining (with few specifics) the party's mission and goals regarding women's issues and environmental concerns. Both of these broad issues are voiced more often at this site than are concerns about national unity. And the party's site reiterates the call to "fair taxes" citing the loss of corporate taxes over the past few years. In fact, you can watch a ticking digital tally of what the party says are the billions of dollars of untaxed corporate profits since the Liberal government took over in 1993. In addition to national issues, you can visit pages on each of the candidates running across the country, such as Hunter Tootoo in the Northwest Territories who says current gun legislation is harmful to his region and is opposed to the Liberals' proposed G.S.T. amendments. While the NDP site is livelier than the Liberal and Reform party I-way stops, it lacks some of the organization and specific political platform messages the other sites include.
The PC Party of Canada
Perhaps more than any other political group, the PCs or Progressive Conservatives have the most to gain from this election. Almost completely excluded from national politics by the last election, polls indicate that the PCs will make a substantial comeback against the Liberals this Monday. So it comes as no surprise that the party's theme for this election is "let the future begin." More than the other sites reviewed here today, the PC site attacks the current Liberal government directly, citing unemployment, health care cuts, tax increases, and national unity problems. Probably the most flashy of the big four official political party web stops, the PC site also offers ReadAudio recordings of leader Jean Charest's speeches and daily live video using Vxtreme's plug-in. To see just what the party proposes to do should it be voted into power you can read the party's platform here, which stresses job creation, preserving the country's social safety net, and support for education, particularly post-secondary education funding. Oddly, there is little emphasis on the Quebec problem. Like all the other sites, everything sounds good, but its up to the voter to decide which is the right path.