The View From Here – At the halfway point in his mandate, Trudeau’s “sunny ways” have lost their luster

Tom Henihan

The old adage, “the more things change the more they seem to stay the same,” may be applied with some truth as the Liberal Government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reaches its two-year mark.

Two years ago the Liberals won an impressive victory electing 184 MPs and approached their reclaiming of power with the rallying cries of “real change,” “positive politics work,” “sunny ways” and so on.

Even if we understood that those rallying cries were a symptom of winner’s euphoria, the substantial victory of Trudeau and the Liberals over the Conservatives appeared to bring to an end Canada’s “long, dark night of the soul” during the ten years of Steven Harper leadership.

It was immediately clear that the language of politics had changed and we assumed that the manner of politics would also change and the country would pursue a new direction.

While there might be some superficial show of a new and open approach, the Liberals, having promised to run deficits of less than $10 billion in the first three years, ended the 2016-17 fiscal year with an almost $18 Billion deficit.

On the matter of electoral reform, Trudeau promised that the 2015 federal election would be the last under the first-past-the-post system. Having spent substantial amounts of money on faux consultations, in February 2017, the Liberals reneged on their promise claiming there was no consensus for electoral reform.

As for the Liberals’ promise of a more accessible and open government, a recent audit found that access to information has become more difficult than under the previous government and that Trudeau MPs are as scripted and tightly controled from the top as when Harper was in power.

Looking at those broken promises, it seems the only thing that changed in the past two years is that Canadians have been misled and lied to using a sunnier turn of phrase.

On the positive side, the Liberals have welcomed 40,000 Syrian refugees to Canada but with the continuing arrival of refugees, there will need to be a balance between being compassionate and realistic.

Also, putting the tiresome selfies aside, I believe Trudeau has raised Canada’s profile internationally and having not followed suit with many European countries or the US, Canada is now seen as a country that has not regressed into an aggressive or a crouched defensive position but has shown moral courage and leadership.

There are other issues that are still a work in progress such as Aboriginal Affairs. Following criticism that the nation-to-nation relationship is still a distant reality, the government has unveiled a reconfiguration of Indigenous Affairs with two ministers on the file and a $3.4 billion budget over the next three years for such pressing matters as clean water, health and employment.

The first two years of the Liberals’ mandate shows a mixed report card including some serious transgressions.

The second half of their term gets underway mired in the controversyofFinance Minister, Bill Morneau having waited two years to tell the ethics watchdog about his private corporation that owns a villa in France.

Morneau’s office avoided the standard ruse of attributing the ethics oversight to a “clerical error,” and issued a more florid statement, saying the oversight is due to “early administrative confusion.”

Considering the Liberals’ performance, their failure to deal in good faith on electoral reform and the expensive lies regarding the deficit, maybe Trudeau has also suffered from “early administrative confusion.” If so Canadians should pray that he makes a full redcovery and over the next two years will act more decisively and deliver on his promises.

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