“The Conservatives refer to Canadians primarily as taxpayers, the NDP talks about the working class, and the Liberals like to say we are citizens,” said Liberal candidate Rob Oliphant recently at an All Candidates Meeting in Toronto.
Sounds good. It seems like a neat way to summarize the core difference between the parties.
Can we confirm Mr. Oliphant’s observation? We informally reviewed party platforms and websites for the type of key phrases they use. We used widely available online tools.
The Conservative platform refers to tax, taxes and taxpayers almost 200 times. The term hard-working family and hard-working Canadian is also used over and over again.
In contrast, the NDP platform refers to taxpayers four times, mentions citizens eight times and makes numerous references to working parents, working moms and dads, and the working poor. We could not find any references to the “working class” as a group.
The Liberals refer to taxpayers twice and refer to our role as citizens six times. Working parents are barely mentioned in the lengthy platform. (Then again, all parents contribute to society and work hard, including stay-at-home parents.)
What about the websites of the leading parties?
If you need more evidence the Conservatives like to control communications, here it is: several widely used online tools to analyze key words were unable to search www.conservative.ca.
In contrast, identical tools applied to www.ndp.ca and www.liberal.ca reveal some interesting points. “Tom Mulcair”, and not much else, seems to matter most to the content writers of the NDP site; very few additional key words are used. The Liberal site uses key words such as “real change” and, as expected, the phrase “Justin Trudeau” pops up regularly. Middle class is also a key phrase on the Liberal website. Neither key word search produced our desired terms: citizen, taxpayer or working class Canadians.
So how would you prefer to be labelled, if you needed to make a choice? The Conservatives seem to have hijacked the term (hard) working (class) families while the NDP fails to claim its roots as a party fighting for the traditional working class. If the Liberals want to appeal to our pride as citizens, neither their platform nor website make much of an effort.
So, take your pick on October 19. What would you rather be: a taxpayer, a citizen, a member of the working class, all of the above, or just a middle class Canadian who wants to protect the economy while bringing real change to Ottawa during a time when we all worry about health care and the environment?