6 Canadian Campaign Promises to Watch in 2016

by February 15, 2016
filed under Activism

Justin Trudeau


The 2015 Canadian federal election had all kinds of drama – shifting polls, trendy hashtags and a handsome candidate with a famous last name. Most pundits didn’t predict a Liberal majority government, but after the dust settled on October 19 that’s exactly the reality Canadians faced. From coast to coast many celebrated the end of Harper’s nine years of iron-fisted rule, hopeful for a more progressive future.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got off to a strong start by naming a diverse cabinet made up of 50% women MPs. When questioned about his choice, he gave the best possible answer: “Because it’s 2015.” But now that the Liberal government has passed over 100 days in power, the honeymoon is over and it’s time to look at the reasons we voted for Trudeau in the first place. Here are 6 campaign promises to watch this year.

1. The Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Inquiry
Previously Stephen Harper stated that more than 1200 missing and murdered Indigenous women were not “high on my radar.” He also said that the issue is criminal in nature rather than some sort of “sociological phenomenon.” Trudeau campaigned on the promise to begin an inquiry within 100 days of being elected Prime Minister and, true to his promise, that process has already begun. Different questions have emerged, such as: Should we consider looking into missing and murdered Indigenous men and boys? Is poverty the most important problem that needs to be addressed? We need to keep the pressure on the government to invest resources into this process and to implement recommendations after the inquiry has completed its work.

2. A More Representative Government
Trudeau campaigned on the promise to review the current electoral system and look at a variety of changes that would make our system more representative of a democratic government, including ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting. These kind of changes need to happen if we’re to become the kind of democratic country we believe we can be, and it’s important that we keep the government accountable towards this goal.

3. Better Childcare
Though Trudeau committed to funneling $500 million per year to the provinces in order for provincial governments to create more childcare spaces, he didn’t say anything about making those spaces more affordable. However, he also committed to more flexible parental leave benefits, and that’s a start. Childcare advocates strongly emphasize that Canada needs a national childcare strategy of universal childcare, something that would require real visionary leadership to create. We voted in Trudeau because we believe he has this kind of leadership, but we need to make sure he follows through.

4. A Greener Future
The Harper government’s position on climate shocked most Canadians who were anywhere left of the far right on the political spectrum. Trudeau promised to change the National Energy Board’s process for reviewing pipelines, including those already under review. This includes the controversial Kinder-Morgan pipeline, and in late January, the government delayed the decision for four months. We’ll have to wait and see what the government decides, but delays won’t make us forget about Trudeau’s promise.

5. Better Healthcare
During the campaign, Trudeau promised a laundry list of healthcare investments: increased home support, reduced cost of prescription drugs, increased mental health services and real partnership with the provinces. The numbers thrown around were huge – he promised $4 billion for home support alone. However, with the price of oil and the Canadian dollar trading at low levels, the government has begun referring to a sluggish economy. What this means for the budget in 2016 remains to be seen, those who are struggling can’t afford to wait for the economy to rebound. Trudeau swept in on a promise to invest – and we need to hold him to it.

6. The End of Bill C-51
The so-called spy bill, C-51, seemed to be a lightning rod in the lead up to the election. Since then, Bill C-51 took a backseat to more traditional campaigning on issues such as infrastructure spending, health care and to debt or not to debt. In the pre-election period, NDP support soared seemingly on their rejection of C-51. The Liberals took a more nuanced view, saying they would review but not cancel the bill, and they seemed to suffer for this position. Even though Trudeau weathered the C-51 storm, he must stay true to his promise to review the bill, incorporating feedback from the people of Canada.

Which campaign promises are most important to you? Let me know in the comments below.

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