What the NDP’s popularity could mean

It’s a bit of a shocker to see the NDP surge so much in the opinion polls as the federal election heads down the home stretch.

It’s a bit of a shocker to see the NDP surge so much in the opinion polls as the federal election heads down the home stretch. And here I was thinking it was a master stroke on the part of the Conservatives, the party of lower taxes and spending, to trigger an election during tax-return season. So much for voters — with tax burdens fresh in their minds – delivering the upside surprise to the Conservatives.

Instead, it’s the NDP who are on their way to scoring the upside surprise. Even if Liberal and Conservative guns now turn toward the NDP and take some of the shine off, the socialists bandwagon seems headed toward a major gain in Parliamentary seats. What are the implications?

Looking at federal elections back to the early 1970s, the Canadian dollar usually takes a hit as signs mount that the NDP will end up with an influential position in the government. So far, the loonie has maintained its lofty perch above $1.05 (U.S.) — but that could change.

Warns BMO Capital Markets chief economist Doug Porter: “While the market has all but ignored the election, we could see a significant shift next Monday if these polls are remotely accurate.” So if you have been averaging into the U.S. dollar like me, it might be time for another deposit.

If the NDP do come close to capturing 100 seats in Parliament, as currently projected, their policies will more likely be enacted into law as political parties strike deals to share power. So what could be in the pipeline for Canadians? Here are the NDP’s current election promises:

NDP promises

  • double the size of the Canada Pension Plan; allow investing of savings into pensions
  • cap credit card interest rates and regulate transaction fees
  • extra $700 million annually for the federal Guaranteed Income Supplement
  • eliminate the deficit by 2014-2015
  • cut small-business tax from 11% to 9% and return corporate tax to 2008 level
  • create credit for employers of up to $4,500 for new hires
  • extend Accelerated Capital Costs Allowance to 2015
  • bring troops home from Afghanistan
  • make pensioners and workers on disability a priority when employers go under
  • forgivable loan program to cover costs of renovating home so aging relative can move in
  • allow Canadians to take up to six months leave to care for a relative
  • caregiver benefit to help low-and middle-income families caring for aging relatives