So finally, the first issue debate of substance has appeared in our election: Daycare. And the differences between the Liberals and the Conservatives become quite stark on this issue: The Conservatives, who believe in small government, want to give an extra $1,200 a year to families (taxable, of course) for them to do with what they will. It’s a cash hand-out. The Liberals have blasted this as “a kind of baby bonus“. The Liberals are countering by offering an additional $6 billion on top of the $5 billion they’ve already committed to a nation-wide, regulated system of child-care, based on the existing Québec model. Stephen Harper countered “[..]when it comes to choices in child care, I can’t think of anyone more knowledgeable than parents. Mr. Martin may not support giving child care support directly to parents, but I do”.
This choice is the classic Big Government vs. Small Government that is one of the primary reasons I could never vote conservative. I don’t believe in the trickle-down effect. I don’t trust individuals to make the right choices for the good of the community. I do, on the whole, believe in the wisdom of crowds. Particularly educated crowds, and civil servants, policy-makers, cabinets & caucauses are all crowds of educated, smart people.
It worries me greatly that Stephen Harper’s plan for childcare is garnering support. If this comes at the expense of the already-extant child-care funding that the Liberals have put in place, that’s going to radically alter my ability to place Liam in daycare. The difference, based on figures I’ve seen so far, is that with the current funding, I can probably just afford to put Liam in Daycare while Leah’s at school (I’m eligible for about $500/month currently). If that subsidy disapears, to be replaced by an extra $100/month, I will no longer be able to put Liam in Daycare, which means Leah can’t go to school, which really, fucks up our lives and our plans for the future.
Not that there was ever any chance that I was going to vote Conservative, but this really worries me. It’s enough to make me at least consider voting Liberal. My riding, which will feature Svend Robinson (NDP) vs. Hedy Fry (Liberal), is likely to be very close. While every fibre in my being would prefer to vote for the NDP, this one issue is big enough for me to consider changing my vote. It probably won’t, particularly as the NDP would support the Liberal childcare plan in parliament, should they hold the balance of power, but I will have to think about it some.