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Failing Federal Promises

The House of Commons returns for its fall sitting today. This is the halfway point for the Trudeau government.

The Liberals will have to prove they can keep at least one major campaign promise in their first mandate.

Justin Trudeau won a majority government in 2015 because it was a change election.

After almost a decade of Stephen Harper’s competent, but staid and arguably mean-spirited governance, Canadians were looking for something different.

Apparently, the Liberals made some promises to the Canadian public on how they would run the government without being committed to them.

Three Large Promises

The Liberals ran on three major campaign promises. The Liberals promised to reform the electoral system.

The Liberals promised to run $10 billion deficits to stimulate the economy.

Finally, the Liberals promised to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Canada.

The specific promise on electoral reform was that the 2015 election would be the last Canadian federal election conducted under our current first past the post electoral system.

That promise was quickly discarded. The Liberals face a challenge primarily from the NDP on that issue, and in fact, a petition attacking this Liberal promise was the largest petition of 2016, reaching over 100,000 signatures.

Increasing Deficits

The National Post provides a chart detailing Canada’s growing deficit.

The Liberals promised to run $10 billion yearly deficits to kick-start the economy.

The deficit last year was more than double the $10 billion promised and is forecast to be almost triple the promised amount in the current fiscal year.

The Liberals face a challenge from the Conservatives on the fiscal front.

Recreational legalization

Marijuana legalization is the only major promise the Liberals made in 2015 that they may still be able to keep.

They have promised to make marijuana legal for personal consumption this coming Canada Day.

The Liberals have promised to allow the provinces and territories to manage distribution in their jurisdictions. Ontario and New Brunswick are the only provinces to announce plans for distribution.

Both provinces are lead by Liberal governments so it shouldn’t be a surprise that both have promised to keep sales in government hands.

Creating more civil service jobs will add to their base of support at the expense of stated public benefits of marijuana legalization.

Black Market

Two of the primary stated benefits of legalization were increased government revenues and a reduction in the black market.

The best way to maximize government revenue is to let the private sector handle the sale of marijuana. This also offers the benefit of lower costs to consumers which is a key component in eliminating the black market.

If Trudeau’s Liberals actually deliver on marijuana legalization in the next nine months they are on the path to doing it the wrong way.

This puts the Liberals in a real bind. If they want to get marijuana legalization right they need to take a step back and figure out how to do it the right way.

That means the Liberals could enter the 2019 election having met none of its major campaign promises.

Given the slipshod manner that has characterized most things Justin Trudeau has done as Prime Minister, it is reasonable to expect whatever the Liberals finally do on the pot file will be with an eye to Justin’s public image with very little consideration paid to acting in the best interest of Canadians.

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