1.) Environment: Kyoto and its associated mechanisms for reducing carbon emissions are a place to start but it is clear from the European and American experience that government will have to use a series of carrots and sticks to force / encourage compliance within the private and household sectors. This means creative use of the tax system and legislated reductions in carbon emissions. Given the urban density in Canada the federal and provincial governments need to come up with a ten year road map for the public transit in the cities and an expansion of inter urban rail transit. This plan needs to be supported by a robust set of disincentives to automobile usage.
2.) Income Inequality: In an era of regulatory arbitrage particularly with regards to corporate and capital taxes there is a limit to how progressive the tax system can be made. Even if we conclude that Canada is already competitive in this respect it still means that there is not much room to increase corporate and capital taxes. As such stronger legislation for employee standards and industrial relations, which empowers workers to bargain over their share of the output they produce, is the easiest way to decrease income inequality between employers and employees.
3.) Taxes: As Canada is already quite competitive on corporate and personal income tax rates within High Income OECD countries tax cuts should be given low priority. Instead a revaluation of the tax mix and burden of the tax system should be engineered to accomplish social and economic goals.
4.) Health Care: We have long since past the point where tinkering at the margins of the system will suffice. It is time for a radical rethink of socialized Health-Care. Private delivery is not the direction to go. The left needs to think how health care can be delivered in a more cost effective and direct fashion. Ultimately this will involve creating new classes of health practitioners that can perform some of the functions now preformed by doctors. Community Public Health needs to be re-envisioned so that it takes the burden off the short supply of doctors and the expensive use of emergency health services.
5.) Education: For too long the K-12 system has been asked to do much more than simply educate young Canadians. It has become the primary agent of socialization for broad classes of citizens. This role needs to be recognized and accepted and specific policies and resources need be developed for the public education system, which allow it to accomplish these goals alongside producing high quality students. Given that a university degree / trades degree is now all but standard there should be greater emphasis on integrating the grades 10-12 curriculum with that of the first two years of university / occupational training.
6.) Higher Education: University and Technical training are now standard requirements in the Canadian Job market. The funding of higher education needs to be made more accessible and affordable. The system of student loans is inadequate and regressive. Serious consideration should be given to using the personal income tax system to fund higher education. The most elegant solution would be to instigate an income tax premium for every year of higher education beyond grade 12. This would effectively allow the public to see a return on investment in education over the lifetime of workers earnings and would allow citizens to pay for their education over a lifetime of their earnings. Along side of this proposal special incentives need to be developed for the training of professionals and trades that are currently in short supply or are projected to be in short supply.