One year in, how are the Justin Trudeau Liberals doing on their election promises?
Justin Trudeau and his Liberal party have only achieved a fraction of the promises they made – 15.5 per cent – in their first year running the country.
That’s 34 of 219, according to the non-partisan, citizen-driven site TrudeauMetre.ca. Another 29 per cent are in progress, while 55 per cent have either been broken (26 of 219) or not yet come to the fore (95 of 219).
Looking out for the middle class?
If there was a central plank in the Liberal election platform, tax relief for the so-called middle class was it.
Trudeau and his cabinet have checked off some big-ticket items, including introducing a new, tax-free Canada Child Benefit, cutting the “middle class” income tax bracket and introducing a new bracket for those earning more than $200,000.
While the government moved swiftly on adjusting the tax brackets, they broke their promise to ensure the changes would be revenue neutral. Instead, the changes are projected to cost $1.2 billion every year for five years.
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Other promises broken since Oct. 19, 2015 run the gamut from social policies to economic policies and those for immigration and Indigenous people, where four of 15 promises have already been broken, according to TrudeauMetre.ca.
Suite of broken promises
During the campaign, Trudeau vowed to end the “discriminatory ban” preventing men who have sex with men from donating blood. Instead of ending the ban, however, the waiting period was decreased to one year from five years.
Health Minister Jane Philpott said in the spring that the government still has the “desire” and “commitment” to decrease the deferral period even more. Health Canada will invest $3 million toward researching how waiting times can be based on behaviours rather than sexual orientation.
On another front, Liberal candidates spent the epic 2015 campaign promising to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of the calendar year. With only two and a half months between election day and the new year, though, the promise was always going to be difficult to fulfill. The Liberals eventually reached their target number at the end of February, almost two months later than promised.
Despite dedicating a lot of ink to the to the environment in their maiden budget, the Liberals allocated $5 billion over five years to green infrastructure instead of the promised $6 billion over four years. Another “green” campaign promise was to “phase out subsidies for the fossil fuel industry over the medium-term.” Instead, the budget locked in one recent liquefied natural gas subsidy until 2025.
Pledging to First Nations
Voters were also led to believe throughout the campaign the Liberals would invest $50 million per year into the Post Secondary Education Support Program, which provides financial aid to First Nations and Inuit students in university or college. The March budget made no such provision.
In the indigenous file, however, the Liberals made good on a number of pledges. They launched a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women, have earmarked $969.4 million over five years for First Nations education infrastructure and inked a deal with the Manitoba and Winnipeg governments to fund an all-weather road connecting the Shoal Lake 40 First Nation community to the mainland.
Still waiting on the health-care file
For many voters, health care is a top determinant in deciding how to vote. Provincial governments are in charge of providing health care, but Ottawa transfers tens of billions in funding to the provinces and territories every year.
During the 2015 election campaign, Trudeau promised “an immediate commitment” of $3 billion over four years to help bolster home care, including palliative care. That money was not included in the Liberal’s 2016 budget.
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As recently as this month, Philpott, the federal health minister, said that envelope of funding remains a priority and should include mental-health services, affordable prescription drugs, innovation and indigenous health – also holdbacks from the last campaign.
Philpott has told the provinces they can expect the funding in the next federal budget – but only if provincial and territorial leaders commit to spend it on home care.
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The Liberal government sent this statement defending the track record to Global News:
“Canadians elected a new government offering a new approach to politics and concrete measures to strengthen the economy and grow the middle class. Immediately after taking office, we implemented a tax cut for millions of Canadians and asked the wealthiest one percent to pay more so that Canadians in the middle class, and those working hard to join it, could pay less. We also implemented a new Canada Child Benefit which provides more money to nine out of 10 families in this country. Our government’s first budget invests more in infrastructure than the previous government invested in five years combined. Our budget also committed historic levels of funding to close the gap with Indigenous communities across Canada. We achieved a ground-breaking consensus with the provinces and territories to strengthen the Canada Pension Plan for future generations, and recently announced a comprehensive plan to put a price on carbon pollution that will not only reduce emissions, but pave the way to a low-carbon economy and many new exciting job opportunities for the middle class. We remain committed to achieving real progress on these and other priorities, and we will continue to work hard to deliver on the promises we made to Canadians.”
Other big promises kept:
Restoring the long-form census
Other broken promises:
Not exceeding deficits of $10 billion over the next three years (the deficit for the coming year alone is set to top $29 billion)
Increasing funding for Telefilm Canada and the National Film Board, with a new investment totalling $25 million each year
Immediately launching an open and transparent competition to replace the CF-18 fighter aircraft, and not considering the F-35 as an option
With files from The Canadian Press
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