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Alona Mercado

    Will you vote in this federal election?

      Part two: I will vote Liberal

In the last issue of the Pilipino Express, I posed the question, “Will you vote in this federal election?” I ended my article by stating that I will definitely vote in this election and that I would be voting Liberal. In this second part of my article, I will explain why I am voting Liberal.

When I was younger, I remember asking my Tatay why he was a Liberal. He told me that we would not be Canadian if it were not for one man – Liberal Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Thinking back, it really wasn’t a statement that I questioned but it certainly influenced my thinking. Now, some would say that sentimental feelings of loyalty should have no part in influencing how we vote. I completely disagree. I firmly believe that if a government is able to instil such loyalty in its citizenry, then it has obviously done something right. However, for myself, I am a Liberal for many more reasons.

If you look at Canadian society and at all the programs we, as Canadians, consider a right, you have the Liberals to thank. It was the Liberal Government of Lester B. Pearson that introduced our own Canadian flag and Medicare – two universal symbols of Canada. Pearson also created the Canada Student Loan program, the Canada Pension Plan (CPP) and Old Age Security (OAS). Pearson was also responsible for the creation of the first immigration point system and thus led to the elimination of discrimination based on nationality or race from all classes of immigration in 1967. This made it possible for so many of our earlier kababayans – the doctors and nurses to come to Winnipeg. It was under Liberal Prime Minister Trudeau that the mass recruitment of garment workers was put in place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was also under Trudeau’s government that the very popular Assisted Relative Category began and thrived. It is because of this program that many Filipinos call Canada their home, myself included. This program was cancelled by Mulroney’s Conservative government.

More recently, it was under Liberal Prime Minister Jean Chre?tien that the Philippines entered into a reciprocal Social Security Agreement with Canada to allow Filipinos who contributed to the CPP and the Philippine Social Security System (SSS) and/or the Philippine Government Service Insurance System (GSIS), to receive their benefits here instead of in the Philippines. It was also Chre?tien’s Liberal government who granted our community the necessary government funding to build the Philippine Canadian Centre of Manitoba (PCCM) and created the Canada-Manitoba Provincial Nominee Program with the Province of Manitoba (MPNP). The MPNP has allowed a new wave of immigrants to arrive from the Philippines making it the number one source of immigration to Canada today.

Many of the important institutions and policies that I attribute to being a Canadian would not have been possible had it not been for the vision and courage of past Liberal Prime Ministers. In this election, Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff is promising to build upon these important contributions of past Liberal governments with his pledge of the Liberal Family Pack – a five- point plan to strengthen families with real solutions:

1. Canadian Learning Passport

This is a one billion dollar investment in our children and families that will give every Canadian child who wants to attend college or university $1000 per year for up to four years (or $1500 per year for students from low income families). This is not a tax credit that you will only receive when you file your income taxes. This is real money that will be given to every child who wants to go to college or university. The Learning Passport funds will be provided through the Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Students and their families will not be required to provide any matching funds to receive the tax- free $4000 Learning Passport.

2. Early Childhood Learning and Care

In addition to the existing universal child care benefit, the Liberal Family Pack will create more high-quality, affordable child
care spaces.

3. Family Care

The Liberal Family Care Plan will introduce:

  • A new six-month Family Care Employment Insurance Benefit so that more Canadians can take time off work to care for gravely ill family members at home without having to quit their jobs. This will replace the current program that only allows EI benefits for six weeks. It will also be more flexible in the required doctor’s certificate and it will allow the six months to be claimed in smaller blocks of time over a yearlong period and it will allow multiple family members to share the six months to provide care.
  • A new Family Care Tax Benefit, to help low- and middle- income family caregivers who provide essential care to a family member at home. The current caregiver credit only applies if you live in the same home as the sick loved one and doesn’t benefit caregivers who do not earn sufficient income. The new Family Care Tax Benefit will provide individuals with a tax- free monthly payment worth up to $1350 per year. This new benefit will work just like the Canada Child Tax Benefit, and will be available to all family caregivers with family incomes under $106,000 who produce a medical certificate affirming that their ill family member requires a significant amount of personal care and assistance with daily tasks. Families with sick children who meet the criteria will also qualify.

4. Stronger Public Pensions

The Liberal Family Pack will boost the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) benefit for low-income seniors by $700 million per year and increase the CPP benefits paid out to Canadians. In addition, a Liberal government will propose a new, voluntary supplement to the CPP called the Secure Retirement Option (SRO), which would be available to any Canadian worker who takes the option to save additional funds through the CPP system.

5. Green Renovation Tax Credit

A Liberal government will implement a permanent $13,500 tax credit for home improvements that will bring benefits such as energy-efficient windows, doors and roofing. This is a smart way to help families protect the environment fight climate change, and save money.

Sino ang karapat-dapat sa boto ninyo?

For me, the choice is clear. The Liberal Party has the plan and the commitment to build upon the solid foundation created by previous Liberal governments. This is why I am a Liberal.

Para sa ating pamilya. Para sa ating mabuting kinabukasan. Para sa ating bayan. Iboboto ko ang Partido Liberal.

Editor’s Note: Alona C. Mercado is a lawyer practicing in Winnipeg and is the Election Day Campaign Manager for the Winnipeg North Liberal Re-Election Campaign for Kevin Lamoureux, M.P.