Mulcair releases full platform, halving the surplus previously projected for an NDP government

The Canadian Press

MONTREAL — An NDP government would make trade talks more transparent, reform the electoral system and ban bulk water exports, under the party’s full policy platform released Friday.
The New Democrats are also acknowledging that the surplus they had previously forecast for their first budget could be cut in half.
Trying to capitalize on criticism of the Harper government over recent TransPacific Partnership trade talks, the NDP is promising to make international trade negotiations more open to public scrutiny.
“Stephen Harper has failed to get the best deal for Canada and Justin Trudeau is ready to go along with him,” NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said in prepared remarks, referring to the trade deal announced earlier in the week.
The NDP policy platform, released in Montreal, also proposes a total ban on bulk water exports across international boundaries, a move designed to counter Liberal party claims that Mulcair once supported the practice as a Quebec cabinet minister.
The 72-page platform broadly outlines all of the campaign pledges the NDP has made so far in their quest to form government after Oct. 19.
But the document also includes a new “sensitivity analysis,” which incorporates the most recent projections from the parliamentary budget office.
In its costing document released earlier in the election campaign, the New Democrats had promised to balance the federal budget in fiscal 2016-17, and predicted a $4.1 billion surplus for the year.
The new platform includes a projection made in July by the PBO, which forecast a $2.4 billion surplus, based on the Bank of Canada’s July Monetary Policy Report.
While many of the commitments had not been formally announced during the election campaign, most of the promises have been talked about by the NDP over the last few years while the party was in official Opposition.
These include a pledge to give the information commissioner the power to force departments to release information to the public and to eliminate excessive fees above $5 charged by the government to access information.
The New Democrats have also resurrected plans to pass a new Consumer Protection Act that would, among other things, cap ATM fees at 50 cents a transaction and create a gasoline ombudsman to investigate complaints about prices at the pump.
As well, the party wants to bring in a mixed-member, proportional representation voting system and is committing to ensure that Canadians living abroad have the right to vote.
It also promises to phase out interest on all federal student loans.