Canadians fuzzy on concept of left and right.
April 30, 2002 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Canadians fuzzy on concept of left and right. A new poll suggests that three quarters of Canadians have trouble telling political left from right. Sort of makes me wonder why voter turnout is higher in Canada than the U.S.. Canadians are also hard to pin down politically, as polls suggests they generally want less taxes and more government spending.
posted by bobo123 (16 comments total)
Personally I blame Brian Mulroney for the confusion, the right wing Prime Minister that raised the sales tax to 15% by introducing the GST. But really, this poll is downright embarrasing for Canada.
posted by bobo123 at 9:12 PM on April 30, 2002

Well, it's pretty bad that there's so many Canadians having trouble with left/right political agendas, but I can give a good explanation for the "less taxes and more gov't spending" quandry.

As posted above, a previous goon implemented the GST. This tax, unlike "normal" taxes is so horrendously complicated to bill companies for it seems it mostly pays for its own administration. Paying GST goes like this:

Importer imports an item and pays GST on it.
Distributor buys item from importer and pays GST on it. Importer gets a GST refund.
Megastore buys the item from the distributor and pays GST on it. Distribuor gets a GST refund.
Local store buys the item at the megastore and pays GST on it. Megastore gets a GST refund.
You buy the item at the local store and pay GST. They get a refund.

Because of such poor administration like this in our government its no wonder we ask why we can't do more with less.
posted by shepd at 9:41 PM on April 30, 2002

Well, this goes a long way in explaining why we voted the Liberals in. They didn't try to go left or right, so at least we understood where they were, which was nowhere.
posted by Salmonberry at 9:42 PM on April 30, 2002

“polls suggests they generally want less taxes and more government spending.”

Why is that embrassing? Polls in the US generally come up with the same conclusion. I imagine it's rather similar
all over the world: people want more for less.
posted by raaka at 10:11 PM on April 30, 2002

they generally want less taxes and more government spending.

Don't we all?
posted by azazello at 10:36 PM on April 30, 2002

Thanks skallas, that's exactly what I meant.
posted by bobo123 at 10:59 PM on April 30, 2002

It's rather like this in the UK, except it isn't just the populace who have trouble telling left from right - the current government does too
posted by Arqa at 11:18 PM on April 30, 2002

Perhaps it's that Canadians are less locked into apprehending and attempting to understand politics using the traditional but increasingly inappropriate and arbitrary labels 'left' and 'right'.

And it may also be possible, that at least until recent years, the political spectrum in Canada tended to have as its 'rightward' extremes positions that might be held as somewhere nearer the 'center' in America.

Much to my regret, and to the chagrin of many other Canucks, these things have come, as so many other things have, to bear greater and greater resemblance to the American Way.

But then, I don't live in Canada any more, so I might well be talking crap again.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:20 PM on April 30, 2002

skallas, I guess I agree with all that, but I don’t understand why Canadians wanting to pay less taxes and get more services makes them “hard to pin down politically.” Their political stance seems pretty straight forward to me.

I don't even know how I simplified bobo’s statement. I just don't understand what he’s getting at.
posted by raaka at 1:53 AM on May 1, 2002

I would've placed all Canadian parties on the left.
posted by dagny at 3:23 AM on May 1, 2002

Left wing: the radical or socialist section of a political party.

Right wing: the conservative or reactionary section of a political party or system.

It seems to me that there is only one sort of system in Canada: the socialist, reactionary section of a political party. Depending on who's in power, be that federally or provincially, all the parties have similar knee-jerk reactions to each other. Frankly, the only difference that I can tell between them is who leads them and what kind of dumbass statements they make (I'm thinking of Stockwell Day, of course).
posted by ashbury at 5:19 AM on May 1, 2002

The GST is what is know the world over (from shepd's description) as the VAT (value added tax). Here in Poland there are 3 VAT tariffs (0%, 7%, 22%) and it's a *total* bitch. Most consumer items (except for food, books, and some things) are taxed at 22%.

What VAT actually is is a system for the government to get a huge chunk of money loaned to it every month, interest-free . If a company makes and error in it's paperwork, so much the better, the government gets to hold on to that money a bit longer.

The nail on the coffin is that companies have to pay VAT from stuff they invoice (like... oh... websites) as soon as they send out the invoice. So if I invoice a client this month, I have to pay VAT to the government by the 16th of next month. Even if that client doesn't pay me for half a year. A lot of small companies have cash flow problems because of this. A $200.000 invoice is a $44.000 liability until it is payed!
posted by jedrek at 8:33 AM on May 1, 2002

What this study doesn't really go into is the fact that Canadian politics is not simply described by left/right but also by regional identity. Indeed, the Parti Quebecois and the Bloc Quebecois -- both founded to create an independent state for Quebec -- have members which span the political spectrum, from fundamentalist Catholics to radical communists. The only party with significant support across all our regions is the Liberal party, which goes a long way to explaining why they've been re-elected twice despite a leader fluent in neither official language.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:21 AM on May 1, 2002

I know the traditional assignments of left/right to our major federal political parties...

...but I don't think the reality of those parties in any way corresponds to tradition. They're all a bunch of goombahs who haven't a strong vision or even a foggy clue. They're neither left nor right, they're not leaders, they're not any damn use at all.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:32 AM on May 1, 2002

Actually skallas, I'd say that most Americans would welcome free universal healthcare and higher education. Only problem: they don't want to pay for it in taxes, because the government fubars 99% of the money we give 'em anyway.

Most Americans don't give a darn about liberal/conservative (though both seem to be much more conservative than elsewhere in the world),settling in the "yes we know we'll pay for schools and welfare and stuff, but please don't bother me and take so much cash out of my paycheck".
posted by owillis at 10:15 AM on May 1, 2002

This is fairly simply explained. The US has two political parties, one left, and one right. Easy to keep track. Canada at present has five parties in the house of commons, one left, one right, one very middle left, one very middle right, one separatist right from a left province. The distinctions are much more vague up north.

Ask Canadians which party they think are kooks and 99% will have an answer. It stuns them that 300 million Americans can only come up with two parties.
posted by Leonard at 10:46 AM on May 1, 2002

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