“I was very much optimistic about what his performance would be and honestly I’ve found it poor at best”
Picture by Matthew S. Duboff
I’ll let you in on a little secret: Justin Trudeau is still a drama teacher. Now, he’s just a drama teacher that turned out to be bad at politics. He seemed perfect at first, I will admit that. The promises to the middle class, the legal weed, the environmental protectionism, and that hair, all very sexy indeed. But nearly two years after these promises, where do we find ourselves? I’m not an expert on the topic but I would say we’re right where we started… adjacent. So, in this article I’ll be exploring Trudeau’s four biggest election promises, what they were, where they went, and where they are. And, just because I think it would be fun, I’ll rate them on a scale of one to five, one representing a monumental crash and burn, five representing a well delivered promise. To keep me honest, I’ll rate them based on promise broken versus promise delivered considering that where you stand on key issues can dictate how you feel about them.
Promise #1: Syrian Refugees
JT promised that he would bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by year end 2015. Well, what can we say about this one, it did happen, it just happened two months later than it was supposed to. With 54% of Canadians either moderately or strongly opposing the initial promise it seems clear that this was not a priority for most voters. The only reason that it makes this list is because it was one of the best publicized. Due to the lack of support from the public and the late marks incurred for missing a deadline, I’ll grant him a three out of five on this one.
Promise #2: End First-Past-The-Post
Next comes electoral reform, perhaps the most difficult endeavour a new government could undertake. At the beginning, it seemed that the PM was quite passionate about changing the way we elect our government, saying that he believed “fundamentally that we can do better”. This was a situation unlike the refugee issue, there was no late delivery. In February it was announced that the Liberal government simply would no longer pursue electoral reform at all. The letter to the Minister of Democratic Institutions Karina Gould read “A clear preference for a new electoral system, let alone a consensus, has not emerged… Changing the electoral system will not be in your mandate”. This was not a determination made without consulting the people, the government consulted 360,000 Canadians online and by telephone to ask their thoughts on electoral reform. The report on what they said, which I’ll gladly leave at the end of this article, is 111 pages long and assaults the reader with statistics. I won’t share my interpretation but it’s sufficient to say the questions posed to those who completed the survey were very general. How the Liberals handled the road to electoral reform was a complete embarrassment at best, one out of five, no questions asked.
Promise #3: Legal Weed
The Liberal promise of legal weed is, in my opinion, one of the main reasons they were elected. At the very least we can agree that it won them some of the millennial vote. I would hate to quote myself but last semester I wrote on the topic in an article titled “This Bud’s For You” in which I stated that legal marijuana is a great idea but not for any of the reasons the Liberal party cited. I still stand by that statement. Further to this, the plan to legalize marijuana has been lined up conveniently around the time of the next federal election which is not likely a coincidence. The legal purchasing age, the points of sale and the penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana are still up in the air as it stands right now. In my home province of Ontario, many believe the Wynne Liberals are botching the point of sale issue. With no clear intention to allow the free market to develop the industry, my province intends to sell it through provincially regulated stores, the same idea as liquor stores. While I will say that it would be nice to pick up a six pack and a joint on a Saturday afternoon I also believe that in this case a large opportunity has been missed. Although the promise will be delivered, much has been left up to the provinces to figure out, and for that a four out of five is the result.
Promise #4: Short Term/Modest Deficits
This promise simply didn’t turn out. The Liberal government has been a cash furnace from which few things have emerged. I don’t think that anyone really believed this and the promise was absolutely blown out of the water far sooner than even I expected. This promise needs no explanation, it just didn’t happen. One out of five.
What’s to say about this one folks. I’m disappointed. After the fogginess of my election night drinking wore off, I was willing to give Trudeau a shot. I was very much optimistic about what his performance would be and honestly I’ve found it poor at best. Agree with me? Great. Pissed off about this article? Even better.
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Christopher Vanderburgh is a fourth year Politics student and Features Editor of The Athenaeum