(OTTAWA) May 4, 2016 – Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands), released a performance review on the Trudeau administration’s first six months in office:
The new government of the Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau was elected on Oct. 19, 2015 and sworn in on Nov. 4. Today is the halfway mark in its first year. It is too early to give conclusive marks on keeping or breaking election promises, but it is not too early to review how his administration is doing so far.
The grading of a new government needs to start by setting out the context of the assessment. Measured against the record of the previous government is too low a bar. The Green Party never graded the Harper administration, as a string of F’s is hardly a valuable tool. Rather, we monitored, we reported, and we urged Canadians to take action.
We are in new territory now and we need new tools. This is an administration with potential. While we firmly believe parliament and Canada need a much larger caucus of Green MPs, we hope for the Liberal administration to do the right thing – for Canada and for future generations. The challenges we face are too critical to be blindly partisan.
We measure the Trudeau administration’s performance against the Liberal platform promises and against the Speech from the Throne. We will continue to do so every 6 months until the October 2019 election.
Impressive strides in reducing the power of the PMO. Unprecedented transparency in letters of mandate. But there has been a serious relapse to the previous government’s preference for steamrolling smaller parties. In the instructions to Liberal members of standing committees, they have been directed to pass the same motion used by the Conservatives to suppress the rights of smaller parties and independents.
Full marks for leadership in Paris at COP21. Good start in meeting with premiers. But we still have the previous government’s weak climate target in place. Budget under-delivered on climate. Delay is dangerous.
Environmental law: Incomplete
Removing the gutting of environmental law as forced through in the 2012 omnibus budget bills, C-38 and C-45, should have been accomplished as quickly as possible. But the post C-38 and C-45 versions of the Fisheries Act, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act and the Navigable Waters Protection Act are still the law of the land. The longer they remain in place, the graver the risk that they will remain in place.
In other areas, such as labour law and immigration, regressive changes by the previous government have been reversed. Rather than fix the omnibus budget bill damage, three different ministers are approaching changes in different manners – and none of it urgently. (Caveat: it is true that the environmental community is split on how to proceed. Many are content with a long consultation process, despite the obvious risks).
The federal budget was a mixed bag. Commitments to indigenous peoples, housing, public transit, waterworks and wastewater funding, relief on student debts and funds for marine protected areas partially met many Liberal promises. The budget fell far short on climate action. As noted by the PBO, it did not deliver financial transparency. Unless corrected in Budget 2017, the commitment to on-going LNG subsidies through the end of 2024 is a campaign promise broken.
While the promise to bring 25,000 Syrian refugees to Canada before the end of 2015 was missed, few would fault the new government for the time taken. There was essentially no system in place before the election. It has been remarkable to watch as thousands of Canadians opened their hearts (and their wallets) to help. While much more needs to be done to repair the damage of the last 10 years to our immigration and refugee law, the changes to C24 – ensuring one class of citizenship – is great news.
The deregistration of untested pesticides was little noted, but appreciated by Greens, as is the upcoming national conference on Lyme disease. The Health Minister’s mandate letter calls for bulk buying of pharmaceutical drugs to bring down the price. Tough issues remain: the re-negotiation of the health accord and legalization of marijuana.
Foreign Policy: Incomplete
A surprisingly weak start in approving the sale of armoured jeeps to a repressive regime. Grade can be brought up by meeting commitment to ratify the Arms Control Treaty, the optional protocol on torture, and rebalancing Canada’s role in calling for protection of Palestinian rights.
Much will ride on the fairness of the national consultations and parliamentary debate on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA). Greens will continue to oppose both deals as posing increased regimes for corporate rule and the reduction of national sovereignty. Credit to the new minister for pursuing Canada’s appeal against the anti-democratic NAFTA Chapter 11 arbitration decision, in support of Bilcon, a US corporation.
Justice for Indigenous Peoples: First Nations, Métis and Inuit: Incomplete
$8.4 billion in spending commitments met with approval by AFN Chief Perry Belgarde, but much more needs to be done. There was no funding for children’s services and not enough for suicide prevention.
But more significant than money is the commitment to truth, justice and reconciliation based on a nation-to-nation relationship. Any approval of permits by this government for projects, such as the hydro-electric dam Site C, that violate fundamental treaty rights or enshrined Constitutional rights will be a fundamental breach with the Liberals’ promising start in this key area.
Welcome decisions to drop appeals launched by previous governments. Although the Medically Assisted Dying bill is weak in a number of key areas, it is a step forward. Greens will press for amendments to the bill.
Encouraging to have $40 million for re-hiring Fisheries scientists. As noted, need urgent repair of Fisheries Act to protect fish habitat, implementation of Cohen Commission, controls of aquaculture and implementation of the Vision for Recreational Fisheries in B.C.
There is virtually nothing in the platform or the Speech from the Throne on agriculture. We hope the Trudeau administration decides to take up the issue of helping family farmers, local agriculture and food security.
Urgently need proper regulation and setbacks for LNG tankers and proposed transit routes before projects are approved. Need enhanced rail safety regulations and restoration of the Navigable Waters Protection Act. Need to support cross-country VIA Rail passenger service.