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Politics

Liberals win minority in federal election — here’s a look at promises Trudeau made

ABOVE: Federal Election 2019: Justin Trudeau FULL victory speech

The Liberal Party of Canada is slated to form a minority government after winning Monday’s election.

As of 1 a.m. ET, Liberals had 155 out of 338 seats in the House of Commons. This will be the second mandate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, but the party will face a set of new challenges, namely working with other parties in a minority situation.

Here’s a look at the promises the party made to help them get re-elected — and the ones that will be the most difficult to keep.

READ MORE: Canada positioned itself as a world leader on climate change — is it?

Climate change

One of the biggest challenges the Liberals will face, Angela Carter, an associate professor of political science at the University of Waterloo, told Global News, is fulfilling promises on climate change.

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Carter explained that the Liberals are still far from fulfilling the Paris climate change agreement pledge to reduce its emissions by 2030 to 30 per cent of 2005 levels.

Leader’s Debate: Trudeau says Canada must stand up to ‘oil barons’ on climate change
Leader’s Debate: Trudeau says Canada must stand up to ‘oil barons’ on climate change

“Based on what I’m seeing, in terms of policies that have been revealed during the campaign period, I just don’t see how they’re going to be able to make that 2030 target,” Carter said.

Along with the 2030 target, Trudeau promised during the campaign to make Canada’s carbon emissions net-zero by 2050. The party did not include details of how they plan to do that or if penalties would be put in place.

While noting that some of the Liberals’ commitments, such as making climate targets legally-binding, are promising, she said there is one key issue the party has not addressed.

“It doesn’t seem like the Liberal party is willing to confront the largest emitting sector in the country, which is the oil and gas sector.”

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Carter noted that the Liberals’ commitment to pipeline projects indicate they are not serious about reducing emissions enough to reach their climate targets.

Pharmacare

The Liberals have also made some other ambitious promises, including pharmacare.

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The party’s platform stated the government would “take the critical steps” to implement national universal pharmacare.

The platform does not provide a specific cost, but Trudeau has said his party would adhere to a pharmacare report conducted by former Ontario health minister Eric Hoskins, who estimated the cost would run at $15.3 billion a year by 2027.

READ MORE: Explainer: Where the major federal parties stand on health care

Stéphanie Plante, a former Elections Canada official, told Global News that promise may be tough to fulfill.

Plante said the party will face several challenges, one of the main ones being how to negotiate with other key players, such as insurance companies and provincial governments.

“We’re kind of jumping into something that’s a provincial/private company/insurance company jurisdiction,” she said.

“How would that be implemented?” she asked, noting that Liberals haven’t provided details on how they will make it happen.

2019 Federal Election: Trudeau asked about final cost of his pharmacare strategy
2019 Federal Election: Trudeau asked about final cost of his pharmacare strategy

Plante did note that the New Democrats, who have promised pharmacare for some time, are likely to support efforts to make it happen in parliament.

“I think the NDP would use it as a negotiating ploy,” Plante said. “They could say, ‘OK, we’ll agree to ratify your budget, we’ll agree to ratify [the new] NAFTA, but you have to agree to pharmacare.'”

Trans Mountain pipeline

Lydia Miljan, an associate professor of political science at the University of Windsor, noted another tough promise for the Liberals will be its commitment to the Trans Mountain pipeline.

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“Just because you buy a pipeline doesn’t mean it’s going to be built, especially in a minority situation,” she said.

The Liberals bought the Trans Mountain pipeline in 2018, promising to create an extension that would double the capacity of the current one.

However, that plan could fall apart if the Liberals are forced to work with the NDP and Greens, who staunchly oppose the project.

Miljan noted that the Liberals can try to work around disagreements and different parties can compromise on certain stances, but the chances are slim.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has suggested he could use the cancellation of the expansion project as a bargaining chip if his party ends up playing kingmaker in the Liberal minority government.

Federal Election 2019: Singh says he remains ‘opposed’ to Trans Mountain pipeline expansion
Federal Election 2019: Singh says he remains ‘opposed’ to Trans Mountain pipeline expansion

Quick promises and working together

While the Liberals have their work cut out for them on some promises, Miljan said there are some that may be easier to fulfill, including tax changes.

Trudeau has said he will gradually raise the threshold of income that’s exempted from tax from the current level of around $12,000 to $15,000 for most Canadians. The benefit would start to phase out for those earning more than $147,000 a year, with those making more than $210,000 completely excluded.

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Miljan explained there is agreement among the Liberals and NDP on some ideas, which would make them easy targets, such as a tax on digital services like Netflix and changes to employment insurance.

READ MORE: Election promises: Tax cuts for many—and tax hikes on the rich

But with details missing on several campaign promises, Plante noted that it can be difficult to predict how they will play out.

One thing Plante said is certain is that the effectiveness of the minority government relies on how well parties work together.

She said it’s likely they’ll at least try to make things work.

“There’s a lot of pressure for the parties to kind of be nice and try to figure things out,” she said.

“We have a lot of problems in the U.K. and a lot of problems in the U.S. We don’t want to be adding to the international noise of democratic failures. We’re Canadians and we want to be reasonable.”