Here’s how Justin Trudeau promised change and didn’t deliver

Rachel Aiello, Ottawa News Bureau Online Producer @rachaiello

Four years ago the Liberals came to power in part, based on promises that they’ve since broken, or thanks to pledges for progress that has yet to materialize.

From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s troubled trips and ethical scandals, to reneged vows to balance the books and reform Canada’s electoral process, the last four years have not been without missteps. With Liberals heading to your doorsteps this summer seeking a second term, here are the ways that “real change” wasn’t delivered.

Budget not balanced

Trudeau campaigned, and was elected on, a promise to run two fiscal years of “modest” deficits of less than $10 billion before returning the federal budget to balance by 2019.

By the time the first federal budget was tabled in 2016, it showed a nearly $30-billion deficit, after inheriting a balanced budget from former prime minister Stephen Harper.

In each budget since, the deficit continues to be billions away from balance, with the latest 2019 federal budget showing a $19.8-billion deficit, and not predicting balanced books for another four years at least. The lowest it’s predicted to drop to is $9.8 billion in 2023-24.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau has defended the Liberals’ economic record and approach of investing in Canadians, saying on the last federal budget day that the Canadian economy is on “good fiscal track.”

Despite this, some economists and conservative-minded politicians have raised considerable concern about continued deficit spending, saying that it’s risky to continue to spend rather than save, should the economy take a downturn. With both Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer and People’s Party Leader Maxime Bernier criticizing it as an “irresponsible” approach because it’ll be future generations that will have to pay for it. Bernier has chalked it up to wanting to “buy votes” with the money going out the door.

Longtime Liberal and principal at Bluesky Strategy Group Susan Smith said her party’s economic record should not be solely based on whether the budget is balanced.

“Hand in hand with that are the jobs and unemployment numbers… we’ve had the highest employment rate since 1976,” Smith said. “That’s an old number to best and we bested it. And the poverty number, I think it’s been lost a little bit — the impact that the federal policies have had on lifting kids out of poverty. When the economists in this country… are not upset, and are comfortable with the level of debt to GDP, I think that’s fine.”

Electoral reform reneged

It was one of their biggest campaign promises: the 2015 federal election would be the last run under the first-past-the-post system. But about two years into their mandate, after a special House Committee had travelled the country and consultations garnered feedback from hundreds of thousands of Canadians, that promise was dead.

Printed plainly in the then-minister’s mandate letter: “changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate.” There was no consensus, or clear preference for an alternate voting system, despite proportional representation being recommended, the Liberals said. Instead, the government moved ahead with other changes to the Canada Elections Act, such as repealing past Harper-era Fair Elections Act changes, and empowering the Chief Electoral Officer.

The move was roundly criticized by the NDP, Greens, and other progressive voices that have been campaigning in support of electoral reform for years. It was called a cynical move and a betrayal of the voters who elected the Liberals on the basis of this promised change. Some Liberals have said that they still get questioned about this major comedown when knocking on doors in their ridings.

“What is unacceptable is to break the promise and leave it broken. That will break people’s faith with democracy itself, those young people who voted for the first time and who believed the prime minister’s promise,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in the House of Commons a few months after the Liberals announced they’d be dropping their electoral reform pledge.

Indigenous relationship still rocky

full story at

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categorised in: