Ten big chal­lenges fac­ing Trudeau’s fledg­ling gov­ern­ment in New Year

Asian Journal - - News - By Joan Bry­den, The Cana­dian Press

Ot­tawa: Bring­ing the Lib­eral party back from the dead was a mon­u­men­tal un­der­tak­ing for Justin Trudeau: two and a half grind­ing years re­build­ing the party ap­pa­ra­tus from the ground up, fill­ing its de­pleted war chest, re­cruit­ing im­pres­sive can­di­dates and craft­ing a plat­form, capped by a gru­elling 11week marathon cam­paign that vaulted the Lib­er­als from third to first with a solid ma­jor­ity vic­tory on Oct. 19. So much for the easy stuff. Now comes the hard part as the rookie prime min­is­ter and his team con­front the re­al­ity of de­liv­er­ing on Trudeau’s prom­ises of “real change.’’

Here are 10 of the big­gest chal­lenges ahead in the year to come. 1. The bud­get. Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau is ex­pected to ta­ble his maiden bud­get in Fe­bru­ary or March. He’s got the un­en­vi­able task of try­ing to de­liver all the Lib­er­als’ pricey cam­paign prom­ises with­out plung­ing the coun­try deeply into deficit. Trudeau promised dur­ing last fall’s elec­tion cam­paign that a Lib­eral gov­ern­ment would run “mod­est’’ deficits of less than $10 bil­lion in each of the first three years be­fore fin­ish­ing up the fi­nal year of his man­date with a slim sur­plus of $1 bil­lion. But par­lia­men­tary bud­get of­fi­cer Jean-De­nis Frechette has es­ti­mated that over the medium term, the gov­ern­ment could run up deficits $10.8 bil­lion higher than Morneau has pro­jected, and that’s be­fore fac­tor­ing in all the new spend­ing the Lib­er­als have promised. Morneau ac­knowl­edges the books are in worse shape than an­tic­i­pated, as com­mod­ity prices con­tinue to plum­met and eco­nomic growth re­mains stalled. Lit­tle won­der Trudeau’s prom­ise to run mod­est deficits has al­ready been down­graded to a “goal.’’ Trudeau says he’s still firmly com­mit­ted to pro­duc­ing a bal­anced bud­get in the fourth year but the big­ger the deficits amassed in the first three, the harder it will be to achieve bal­ance.

2. With­draw­ing Cana­dian fighter jets from the U.S.-led bomb­ing cam­paign in Syria and Iraq. Trudeau has promised to end Cana­dian par­tic­i­pa­tion in the air war but says Canada will con­tinue to con­trib­ute in some other way to the cam­paign against Is­lamic rad­i­cals. He’s talked about us­ing Cana­dian troops to help train lo­cal mil­i­tary and po­lice but how many and how close to the front lines the train­ers may be has yet to be de­ter­mined. The gov­ern­ment is also talk­ing to NATO al­lies about other ways Canada could con­trib­ute. Canada’s com­mit­ment to the cur­rent air mis­sion ends on March 31.

3. Re­set­tling 10,000 Syr­ian refugees by the end of 2015 and an­other 15,000 by the end of Fe­bru­ary, two months later than orig­i­nally promised. Fewer than 4,000 have ar­rived so far...

but the Lib­er­als in­sist the re­main­der will come by the gov­ern­ment’s self-im­posed dead­line. The lo­gis­tics of pro­cess­ing and mov­ing so many peo­ple has proved much more com­pli­cated and costly than an­tic­i­pated.

4. Meet­ing with pre­miers and ter­rito

rial lead­ers by mid-March to ham­mer out a de­tailed na­tional cli­mate change strat­egy. Hav­ing agreed to an am­bi­tious 195-coun­try deal to limit global warm­ing to 2 de­grees Cel­sius above pre-in­dus­trial lev­els, Trudeau and the pre­miers now have to set a spe­cific tar­get for re­duc­ing Canada’s green­house gas emis­sions and fig­ure out how to achieve it. The strat­egy will in­volve putting a price on car­bon and will re­quire con­sen­sus among the pre­miers, which may be hard to come by. Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall has al­ready sig­nalled his con­cern that im­pos­ing a price on car­bon will un­fairly dam­age the economies of en­ergy pro­duc­ing western prov­inces, al­ready reel­ing from the plunge in oil prices. The pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment set a tar­get to cut emis­sions by 30 per cent be­low 2005 lev­els by 2030. The Trudeau gov­ern­ment has said that tar­get is a “floor;’’ it hopes to set a more am­bi­tious goal.

5. De­velop a na­tion-to-na­tion re­la­tion

ship with in­dige­nous peo­ples and work in part­ner­ship to im­prove hous­ing, in­fra­struc­ture, health care, child wel­fare, ed­u­ca­tion and com­mu­nity polic­ing, as promised in the cam­paign. That in­cludes im­me­di­ately set­ting up a na­tional in­quiry into miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women, de­liv­er­ing on all 94 of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion com­mis­sion’s rec­om­men­da­tions and end­ing all boil-wa­ter ad­vi­sories on re­serves within five years. Any one of those prom­ises would be am­bi­tious. Taken to­gether, they’re daunt­ing.

6. Pass a new law that rec­og­nizes the right of clearly con­sent­ing adults who are en­dur­ing in­tol­er­a­ble phys­i­cal or men­tal suf­fer­ing to seek med­i­cal help in end­ing their lives. The Supreme Court, which struck down the pro­hi­bi­tion on doc­tor­as­sisted dy­ing last Fe­bru­ary, gave the gov­ern­ment a year to draft a new law but the Trudeau gov­ern­ment is ask­ing for a six­month ex­ten­sion. The gov­ern­ment has struck a spe­cial joint par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee to con­sult widely and re­port back with rec­om­men­da­tions for a new law by the end of Fe­bru­ary. As­sum­ing the court grants the ex­ten­sion, the gov­ern­ment aims to have a new law in place by the time Par­lia­ment breaks in June for the sum­mer.

7. Fill 22 va­can­cies in the scan­dal

plagued Se­nate. The gov­ern­ment has an­nounced the cre­ation of an arm’s-length ad­vi­sory board to rec­om­mend non-par­ti­san nom­i­nees for ap­point­ment to the Se­nate, a move Trudeau says is aimed at restor­ing the ma­ligned up­per house to its in­tended role as an in­de­pen­dent cham­ber of sober sec­ond thought. The five-mem­ber board is sup­posed to rec­om­mend nom­i­nees to fill five va­can­cies by early next year, with the rest to fol­low by the end of 2016. Trudeau has touted the new process as the only prac­ti­cal way to achieve con­crete changes in the Se­nate with­out get­ting bogged down in con­sti­tu­tional ne­go­ti­a­tions. The suc­cess of his ap­proach will be judged in large mea­sure by the qual­ity of sen­a­tors he even­tu­ally ap­points.

8. De­liver on Trudeau’s prom­ise that

the 2015 elec­tion will be the last un­der the first-past-the-post elec­toral sys­tem. He’s pledged to cre­ate an all-party com­mit­tee to con­sult on al­ter­na­tives, in­clud­ing ranked bal­lots, pro­por­tional rep­re­sen­ta­tion, on­line vot­ing and manda­tory vot­ing, and re­port back within 18 months. The Lib­er­als main­tain that elec­toral re­form should be the prod­uct of all-party con­sen­sus but, with each party look­ing out for its own self-in­ter­est, that may prove im­pos­si­ble. Even be­fore spe­cial com­mit­tee is struck, Trudeau is fac­ing op­po­si­tion ac­cu­sa­tions that he favours a ranked ballot sys­tem be­cause it would the­o­ret­i­cally ben­e­fit his cen­trist party most. And he’s un­der pres­sure from the Con­ser­va­tives to com­mit to hold­ing a ref­er­en­dum on what­ever is ul­ti­mately pro­posed, a process that has killed elec­toral re­form ini­tia­tives in three prov­inces and could do the same for any fed­eral pro­posal.

9. Le­gal­ize, reg­u­late and re­strict ac­cess to mar­i­juana. This will be a com­plex and con­tro­ver­sial file that will re­quire work­ing with the prov­inces. If Trudeau wants to achieve le­gal­iza­tion dur­ing his first man­date, the gov­ern­ment will have to get down to work quickly in the new year. 10. Re­peal parts of the pre­vi­ous Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment’s con­tro­ver

sial anti-ter­ror­ism act and in­tro­duce new leg­is­la­tion that bet­ter pro­tects rights and free­doms while im­prov­ing se­cu­rity. Among other things, Trudeau has promised to cre­ate an all-party par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee to oversee na­tional se­cu­rity agen­cies, nar­row the def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ist pro­pa­ganda and en­sure law­ful protests and ad­vo­cacy are not con­sid­ered ter­ror­ism.

Ray Hud­son: Just in time for the win­ter weather, there has been an im­prove­ment for home­less in the Whal­ley area.

Mayor Hep­ner: With fund­ing from the Provin­cial gov­ern­ment, we opened our forty-bed, 24/7 win­ter shel­ter, in the for­mer Dell Ho­tel liquor out­let, af­ter be­ing with­out a shel­ter for a couple of years. And along with that, land has been re­zoned near Sur­rey Me­mo­rial hos­pi­tal, for a long-term emer­gency shel­ter. Mayor Hep­ner said that the city is ded­i­cated to in­volv­ing as much of the pop­u­la­tion as pos­si­ble in the many pub­lic events fa­cil­i­tated by the city. “I think we’re the only city that puts on fes­ti­vals our­selves, and we have more than half a mil­lion peo­ple at­tend the big five, which are Canada Day, Fu­sion Fest, The Chil­dren’s Fes­ti­val, Party for the Planet, and the Christ­mas Tree-light­ing at City Hall.” She went on to high­light a ma­jor sports event this sum­mer, which may im­pact the Olympic Games. “We will host the 2016 World Soft­ball Cham­pi­onships which will bring hun­dreds of thou­sands of peo­ple and per­haps in the range of $30 mil­lion, to the city. There are over forty teams com­ing to this key tour­na­ment, as it will be the de­ter­mi­nant as to whether or not the sport is re­turned to the Olympics.”

Sur­rey as a Host City for Refugees:

Ray Hud­son: Mov­ing on from the year past, to the im­me­di­ate fu­ture, Syr­ian refugees are com­ing, and al­though we don’t know how many will set­tle in Sur­rey, the city is a des­ig­nated refugee re­set­tle­ment lo­ca­tion. What plans do we have to ac­com­mo­date them?

Mayor Hep­ner: I’ve asked to be no­ti­fied so I can par­tic­i­pate in some per­sonal greet­ings as well, but right now we have our inter-agency groups, thirty in to­tal, work­ing to de­velop what our plan will be. Early in Jan­uary, I’ll be call­ing a meet­ing for those in­ter­ested in help­ing. We’ll es­tab­lish a plan to or­ga­nize where to send them, whether it has to do with hous­ing, cloth­ing, or other ser­vices for refugees. We haven’t ad­vised any­one yet so you’re the first to have the scoop on that plan. My big­gest con­cern with re­spect to the needs of the refugees, is lan­guage and learn­ing to speak English. I have asked to be kept ap­prised as to how we’re do­ing, not only with re­spect to ESL in the schools and where that pro­gram is headed, but also in gath­er­ing more data on the num­bers of refugees com­ing here. It may even be less than we orig­i­nally thought. My con­cern is that as the peo­ple set­tle into our com­mu­nity, the money that sup­ports their ser­vices also flows to this com­mu­nity. I want to make sure it’s our agen­cies that are get­ting the fund­ing for as­sist­ing those peo­ple and that the funds fol­low that fam­ily wher­ever they move dur­ing that pe­riod of as­sis­tance.

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