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Election

Election Special: Liberal kind of Canada

By Brandon Kostinuk, 25 Nov, 2015
  • Election Special: Liberal kind of Canada

Trudeau’s Liberals swung into a 54 per cent majority in the House, transforming the previously frail 34-member House caucus into governing party of Canada.

 

Following his party’s sweeping majority, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, standing in front of a boisterous crowd in Montreal, opened up and declared, “Sunny ways, my friends, sunny ways. This is what positive politics can do.”

Canada has been under a Stephen Harper-led Conservative administration for close to 10 years. They steered the country through the financial crisis in 2007-08, certainly bolstered by the strong price in oil that hit highs of $147 a barrel in 2008.

The Conservatives also strengthened our country’s borders and security capabilities, dismantled or affected a lot via policy initiatives, scrapping the long-gun registry and the national child care program put together in 2006.

They also reduced the goods and services tax from seven to five per cent, changed the relationship between the media and government into something often farcical, and demonstrated a willingness to flout Parliamentary ethics and etiquette.

Harper was charged with contempt of Parliament in 2011 and utilized omnibus legislation on more than a handful of occasions to affect hundreds of laws on the environment, crime, economy and more, effectively stamping their brand of politics across the country.

But, this election, change was in the air.

A sea of red

The Liberal Party of Canada ran on a platform of progressive change. They asked voters: “What does real change mean to you?”

Beneath three general rubrics of investment, the middle class and transparency, the Liberals scooped up 184 ridings when the polls closed on October 19. Trudeau’s Liberals swung into a 54 per cent majority in the House, transforming the previously frail 34-member House caucus into governing party of Canada.

The 42nd general election and its politics propelled 17 million to turn up and vote, which is about 68 per cent of the eligible vote. This was the highest turnout rate in decades, since 1993’s 71 per cent.

The Grits put forth an ambitious policy platform, one that contained over a hundred policy points as outlined at the party’s national site. From the economy to openness in government, the Liberals hit a strong chord with Canadians capturing 6.9 million voters.

But now the hard part: prioritizing pledged promises.

Surrey Centre MP Randeep Sarai said focus will be placed on the middle class as that was a policy area that resonated with voters. “The last 10 to 15 years, growth in earning capacity has not been there for Canadians,” said Sarai, who is an entrepreneur with a background in law.

Sarai added, the lowering of taxes, boosted infrastructure spending and the addition of high-skilled jobs with an emphasis on youth, will be important for the growth and development of Canada’s economy.

Sarai won his Surrey riding by over 2,000 votes, defeating NDP incumbent Jasbir Sandhu and Conservative candidate Sucha Thind.

Sarai also talked about a difference in access and openness afforded to and by politicians. “We will not be expected to tote the party line,” said Sarai, adding, he plans on a results-oriented approach to politics, not simply championing initiatives for the sake of the party.

Sarai also conveyed his personal opinion on our country’s role on the world stage. “Canada doesn’t do well outside of non-NATO or UN sanctioned military interventions,” said Sarai.

We are best as humanitarians and peacekeepers. He thus agrees the decision to remove our CF-18 fighter jets from the U.S. led air-combat mission in Iraq and Syria is a good one. “There will be times Canada needs to go to war,” he added, “but it should be debated and carefully thought out.”

Liberal Jati Sidhu of Abbotsford was another surprising victory for the Grits this election. Sidhu, a businessman of 27 years, secured the Mission-Matqui-Fraser Canyon seat, which, prior to its 2012 redistribution, was traditionally held for decades by the Conservatives.

Sidhu, who won by 1,038 votes ahead of Conservative Brad Vis, said focus on the economy was most imperative. “Investing in infrastructure and green jobs,” said Sidhu, who is president of Greenvale Enterprises Inc., a local agricultural company, and CEO of Sidhu Group.

He then shifted gears to Bill C-51, the controversial Conservative anti-terror legislation that passed last June.

Civilian oversight will be key to the democratic success of the bill, Sidhu said, and considering the recommendations made by the United Nations Human Rights committee is something the Liberals must do. But, Sidhu added, “If any Canadian is not involved in a violent act, then it should not apply.”

He also drew close attention to the need to reinstate Canada’s image in the world as leading peacekeepers, where we currently rank 68th in the world. “Yes, we need to help,” he said of the situation with ISIS, “but we don’t want to try to fight for them.”

He emphatically noted: “I am optimistic with Justin Trudeau - he has a vision.”

From promises to policies

The rise of Trudeau’s Liberals was difficult to forecast in an election deemed, for one of the first times, as a three-party race.

There’s no denying Canada’s left-wingers took a large step back from their political influence established in 2011. From 103 seats reduced to 44, many, including the NDP, did not foresee the Liberal’s sweep of the Atlantic.

The Tories are firmly in opposition with 99 seats, or 29 per cent of the House, but Harper-less at the helm.

Trudeau’s Liberals are now in the position to push ahead with their agenda.

As the 43-year-old Prime Minister settles in on his newly appointed Cabinet, pressing matters on the environment juxtaposed against the falling price of oil subtly battering Canada’s economy is front and centre, as is the pledged promise to look into the missing and murdered indigenous women, and a handful of international summits on the horizon.

Further, implementing middle class tax cuts, pulling out of Syria and Iraq and the planned resettlement of 25,000 Syrian refugees by year’s end just scratches the surface of the work ahead. Certainly a clear majority and mandate in hand, Canadians expect promises to shape into policies in the coming months.


What voters have to say:

DARPAN conducted a poll asking its readers what promise made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau got them to believe in him and his leadership. Based on the categories listed in the poll, about 40 per cent of the participants stated that the Prime Minister’s plan to cut middle-class tax bracket to 20.5 % was one of the reasons they voted for him, whereas about 40 percent believed in his promise to cancel income-splitting for families. About 20 percent participants said his plan for massive infrastructure investment to create jobs and stimulate the economy was appreciated.

Hon. John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship

“I was honoured when the Prime Minister asked me to be part of his cabinet. We put forward an ambitious agenda during the election and it is very exciting to be part of the team that Mr. Trudeau entrusted with implementing it. Obviously, the first task will be to carry out our humanitarian commitment to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees. The Prime Minister also made a number of significant commitments to cut waiting times for immigration processing, eliminate the Conservative two-tier citizenship and to make Canada amore welcoming place for newcomers. I’m looking forward to taking action on all of our commitments.”

Hon. Jody Wilson-Raybould, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“I am incredibly proud to be the new Member of Parliament for the riding of Vancouver Granville, and honoured to be the Minister of Justice and the Attorney General of Canada. Prime Minister Trudeau has assembled a strong team and I am honoured to be part of it. I trust Justin Trudeau. He has a good mind and a great heart. He reaches out to bring people together in common cause. He has given me hope that, working together, we are bringing a government of good people and great integrity to Ottawa, to make the changes that will make all of our lives, and our country, better.”

Hon. Amarjeet Sohi, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

I feel absolutely honoured and humbled that Prime Minister Trudeau has given me an opportunity to serve Canadians as a federal cabinet minister. I see Canada as a unique country where you can come from anywhere in the world, and if you’re given the right opportunities, you can build your life, and you can succeed and prosper.

As for my plans as Minister, I will draw upon my experiences as an Edmonton city councillor, as a community advocate and member of the Canadian Urban Transit Association and the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, and as a bus driver for Edmonton Transit for 10 years. Because of that experience, I look at infrastructure through a municipal lens, and I’ve been on the other side of the table.

As we deliver our ambitious infrastructure investment agenda, my focus will be on working in partnership with others. Right after I was sworn in as Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, I started calling with my provincial and territorial counterparts and other partners to start rekindling those important relationships between the federal government, the provinces and territories, the cities, and associations.

As we develop our 10-year funding plan, we will consult. And we will listen. Our plan will mean transformational change for Canadians, communities and the country. It will help build communities that are livable, sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive.

Hon. Randeep Sarai, MP, Surrey Centre

MP Randeep Sarai said focus will be placed on the middle class as that was a policy area that resonated with voters. “The last 10 to 15 years, growth in earning capacity has not been there for Canadians.” He added that the lowering of taxes, boosted infrastructure spending and the addition of high-skilled jobs with an emphasis on youth will be important for the growth and development of Canada’s economy.

Hon. Jati Sidhu, MP, Mission-Matqui-Fraser Canyon

MP Randeep Sarai said focus will be placed on the middle class as that was a policy area that resonated with voters. “The last 10 to 15 years, growth in earning capacity has not been there for Canadians.” He added that the lowering of taxes, boosted infrastructure spending and the addition of high-skilled jobs with an emphasis on youth will be important for the growth and development of Canada’s economy.

 

Photo credit for Justin Trudeau pictures:Andrej Ivanov, Photo Editor, The Concordian

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