Prom­ises, prom­ises

What are the odds of Trudeau keep­ing his word?


When Justin Trudeau now as­sumes his place as Canada’s 23rd prime min­is­ter, Cana­di­ans will be anx­ious to see which cam­paign prom­ises will top of the Lib­eral agenda.

Over the course of the 11-week cam­paign, the Lib­eral leader promised change in the form of in­fras­truc­ture in­vest­ments, job cre­ation, tax changes and so­cial pol­icy, among oth­ers. There was even some talk of le­gal pot float­ing out there early in the cam­paign.

It may sur­prise some Cana­di­ans, but tra­di­tion­ally, gov­ern­ments have a solid track record of keep­ing their cam­paign prom­ises.

“It’s about 75 per cent over a fouryear term for all par­ties,” said David John­son, po­lit­i­cal sci­ence pro­fes­sor at Cape Bre­ton Univer­sity.

John­son pointed to Harper’s “Big Five” prom­ises made dur­ing the 2006 elec­tion cam­paign, all of which were kept over his time in of­fice. “When you think of Harper dur­ing the 2006 cam­paign, he had five big ticket items - get­ting tough on crime, cut­ting the GST and oth­ers - he did that.”

Of­ten, pol­icy de­ci­sions and cam­paign prom­ises are tied to bud­get ques­tions, said Pe­ter McKenna, chair of the po­lit­i­cal sci­ence depart­ment at UPEI.

“The fall­back po­si­tion is things are tighter than usual. It’s go­ing to de­pend on the mi­nor­ity or ma­jor­ity. He has to do some things if he wants to get re-elected. Ma­jor is­sues will be put on hold ini­tially, but you will see deficit spend­ing on job cre­ation and tax cuts for mid­dle class.”

But even be­fore Par­lia­ment is called back, John­son said Prime Min­is­ter Trudeau could start to flex his mus­cle

“He could see the Cana­dian CF18s on bomb­ing mis­sions be­ing or­dered back to Canada,” said John­son. “He doesn’t need par­lia­ment to do that. He could also call a na­tional in­quiry into miss­ing and mur­dered in­dige­nous women. I’d ex­pect to see ac­tion on that right away.”

John­son also said he would ex­pect Trudeau to sig­nal a change in for­eign pol­icy by an­nounc­ing the reopening of the Cana­dian em­bassy in Iran, which Harper closed a cou­ple of years back.

For those keep­ing track, here’s a list of what the Lib­er­als have promised over the cam­paign: • Lower the fed­eral in­come tax rate to 20.5 per cent on in­comes be­tween $44,700 and $89,401, pay­ing for it by rais­ing taxes on the wealth­i­est one per cent. Bring in a new, tax-free child ben­e­fit to re­place the Con­ser­va­tive uni­ver­sal child ben­e­fit. • Add $515 mil­lion a year to fund­ing for First Na­tions ed­u­ca­tion, ris­ing through the man­date to a to­tal of $2.6 bil­lion. Add an­other $500 mil­lion over three years for ed­u­ca­tion in­fras­truc­ture and $50 mil­lion more a year for a pro­gram that helps abo­rig­i­nals in post-sec­ondary ed­u­ca­tion. • Bring in a merit-based ap­point­ment process for the Sen­ate

• $300 mil­lion a year to re­form vet­er­ans’ ben­e­fits and de­liv­ery of ser­vices to vets. • 3 bil­lion over four years on home care and im­prove ac­cess to and re­duce the cost of pre­scrip­tion med­i­ca­tions through bulk pur­chas­ing. Es­tab­lish a pan-Cana­dian Ex­pert Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil on Men­tal Health. • Put up $200 mil­lion a year for three years to help re­search fa­cil­i­ties, small busi­ness in­cu­ba­tors and ex­porters and in­vest an­other $100 mil­lion a year for an in­dus­trial re­search as­sis­tance pro­gram. • Ease rules to speed up fam­ily re­uni­fi­ca­tion for im­mi­grants. Scrap the visa re­quire­ment for Mex­i­cans trav­el­ling to Canada. • Pro­vide $380 mil­lion in ad­di­tional fund­ing for the arts and undo Con­ser­va­tive fund­ing cuts to the CBC. • Scrap the pur­chase of the F-35 fighter jet and in­stead buy cheaper planes to re­place the aging CF-18s and use the sav­ings to pay for off­shore Arc­tic pa­trol ves­sels for the navy be­ing built in Hal­i­fax. • $500 mil­lion to the prov­inces for skilled trades train­ing, and de­vote $200 mil­lion for fed­eral train­ing pro­grams. Set aside an­other $50 mil­lion to help abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple im­prove their skills and job prospects. • Spend about $1.5 bil­lion over four years on a youth job strat­egy to help 125,000 young peo­ple find a job. • Make em­ploy­ment in­sur­ance com­pas­sion­ate care ben­e­fits avail­able to any­one car­ing for a se­ri­ously ill fam­ily mem­ber and make the pro­gram more flex­i­ble by al­low­ing the six-month ben­e­fit to be claimed in blocks of time over a year-long pe­riod. • In­vest $200 mil­lion a year to de­velop clean tech­nolo­gies in forestry, fish­eries, min­ing, en­ergy and farm­ing. Put an­other $100 mil­lion into or­ga­ni­za­tions that pro­mote clean tech­nol­ogy firms.

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