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.