In battle of B.C. election platforms, Greens win: Expert

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[The Greens have a tiny fraction of the budget of the other two parties; nickels to their dollars. This means that the absence of a meaningful NDP or Liberal plan is no accident. Gaps in BC NDP and Liberal platforms leave voters without crucial information, argues economist Lindsay Tedds. See also: Green, undecided surge could play ‘startling’ role in election: pollster. *RON*]

Jen St. Denis, Metro News Vancouver, 24 April 2017

Andrew Weaver of the BC Greens, John Horgan of the BC NDP and Christy Clark of the BC Liberals are fighting for the chance to be British Columbia's next premier. Darryl Dyck, Canadian Press
The BC Greens have only ever managed to elect one MLA and have never formed government. But a B.C.-based economist is giving their platform top marks for clear, sensible policy — in contrast to the BC Liberals’ and BC NDP’s.

“So far it’s been very impressive,” said Lindsay Tedds, a professor at the University of Victoria’s School of Public Policy. “It’s sensible, it’s realistic.”

When it comes to assessing the platforms, Tedds warns that there are some “bombs” in all of them: promises that are unclear, impossible to implement or don’t include enough information to assess how government would cover costs.

Tedds jokingly refers to the Greens as “a card-carrying member of the economist party,” referring to a platform that features economist-approved policies like mobility pricing — a comprehensive tolling system designed to reduce congestion. The Greens have also been “crystal clear” that they will roll medical service premiums (MPS) into the income tax system and make it more progressive (wealthier people pay more, poorer people pay less).

That’s in contrast to the BC NDP and the BC Liberals, who have promised to get rid of MSP but have not said how they would replace the lost revenue; and who have both promised to cap or eliminate tolls on two Metro Vancouver bridges.

But not everything checks out.

The BC Greens have said that when a home seller’s lifetime profit reaches more than $750,000, that capital gain should be taxed. Tedds points out that provinces do not have the authority to tax capital gains from the sale of a principal residence: that’s under federal control.

As for the NDP, Tedds likes its renter grant, arguing that if the province is going to keep doling out the homeowner grant (at a cost of $821 million) it’s fair to give renters some help as well (at a cost of $265 million a year).

The biggest question voters should have about the BC NDP platform is how an NDP government would pay for the very big-ticket items it has promised: eliminating MSP and creating a $10 a day childcare system. The party says it has “fully costed” its plan and will raise revenue from raising taxes on corporations and people who make over $150,000.

But it’s not clear what an NDP government would do to replace MSP. The party says it will go ahead with a 50 per cent reduction promised in the BC Liberals’ latest budget and will eliminate the fee within four years, but will form a panel to look at how to make up the lost revenue.

“Health care’s expensive,” Tedds said. “To imagine that we can eliminate the MSP premium and not substitute any revenue? Gum drops, unicorns and candy cane kittens.”

Tedds has called the BC Liberal platform a “meh” platform, pointing out on her blog that if you’re fine with the status quo, you’ll probably like this platform. Tedds says that the Liberals’ promise to eliminate MSP has no more clarity than the NDP’s commitment. And while the party promises various new tax credits (for instance, a tax credit on BC Ferries fares), it fails to clarify whether the credits are refundable or non-refundable.

“Without that information you have no idea whether or not you benefit,” Tedds said. Refundable tax credits return money to taxpayers, while non-refundable taxes reduce the income tax owed. “So non-refundable tax credits have very little value to low income persons.”

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