It has been more than a year since Canadians voted in a federal election to grant Justin Trudeau a majority government, after one of the longest federal election cycles in modern Canadian history.
Trudeau's overwhelming support came from a message that revolved around "change." His campaign made a plethora of campaign promises, offering a fresh face, new ideas and the promise of transparency for the Liberal platform.
Trudeau's actions in government have not lived up to expectations, and Canadians are taking notice. A recent poll has shown the Liberal government's approval rating dropping a staggering nine points to 42 per cent, from a November poll which had Liberal support at 51 per cent.
Trudeau, once elected, released a document titled Open and Accountable Government, which detailed the ways in which the Liberal government would operate and maintain transparency. Trudeau is quoted in a news release as saying "We will uphold the highest standards of integrity and impartiality both in our public and private affairs."
Trudeau's actions in government have not lived up to expectations, and Canadians are taking notice.
Trudeau disregards his promises on ethics and transparency
Justin Trudeau and the Liberal party have been under scrutiny regarding their multiple "cash-for-access" fundraisers. Cash for access can be described as providing money directly to a foundation or individual for meetings with high-ranking government officials, which could lead to a number of conflicts of interest.
The Liberals held a $1,500 cash-for-access fundraiser at a wealthy Chinese-Canadian business executive's mansion in May. In attendance was Chinese businessman Zhang Bin, who along with a partner donated $1 million to the Trudeau foundation and the University of Montreal Faculty of Law not long after the event. Bin is an adviser to the Chinese government and a state network which promotes Chinese interests around the world.
At this high-profile event were a number of Chinese billionaires, including insurance tycoon Shenglin Xian, who founded Wealth One Bank of Canada. This fundraiser had been at an opportune moment, as Xian had been waiting for approval from federal bank regulators for his Schedule 1 bank to start operations in Canada.
Since Schedule 1 banks are domestic, they may receive deposits within Canada. As of July, the Liberal government has approved this bank, which opened branches in multiple cities across Canada.
Such cash-for-access events go against the ethical guidelines and standards of conduct outlined by Trudeau when elected. A section of Trudeau's guidelines states that "There should be no preferential access to government, or appearance of preferential access, accorded to individuals or organizations because they have made financial contributions to politicians and political parties."
The Liberals voted down a motion from the Conservatives, supported by the NDP, to transfer the Liberals ethics rules on lobbying and fundraising to the ethics commissioner Mary Dawson. The intent of this motion was to prevent potential conflicts of interest in government and stop cash-for-access events in Canadian politics while upholding Trudeau's own promise for a transparency in government.
This scandal has shown a complete disregard for Canadian campaign finance laws, while the wealthy and lobbyists continue to erode democracy.
Broken promises will impact the economy
The Canadian economy has seen sluggish growth since the election, which has not been helped by terrible fiscal policy by the Liberal government. Trudeau had promised, once elected, to run consecutive deficits for three years. This campaign promise explicitly stated that these "small" yearly deficits would not exceed $10 billion a year.
The Liberals' plan to run yearly deficits was made in tandem with an election promise to balance the budget by 2019-2020. The Liberals first tabled budget deficit is estimated to accumulate to a staggering $30 billion, a significant increase for the Canadian economy, especially with the loonie struggling and low oil prices.
How can such a fiscally irresponsible government grow the Canadian economy at such levels to meet these targets? They cannot, with recent budget forecasts for 2019 predicting an $18-billion deficit, and a $14-billion deficit in 2020.
Trudeau also promised middle-class tax cuts to be paid for by tax hikes for higher incomes. Such tax changes were promised to be revenue neutral, meaning they would not cost the Canadian public additional tax dollars.
Bill Morneau and the Liberal government again showed their inability to keep their word, as it is now being reported that these tax changes are actually going to leave the government short $1.2 billion.
Such short-sighted policies will lead to either large tax increases or large government cuts in the near future.
The current lack of budget control and accountability will leave Canadians with an unmanageable level of debt. With large deficits being predicted past the next election -- and growth not likely to reach the Liberal government's predictions -- it is likely such short-sighted policies will lead to either large tax increases or large government cuts in the near future.
In 1972, when Pierre Trudeau started running similar deficits without proper consideration for their long-term effects, it took a quarter century to get out of deficit spending through the largest downsizing in Canadian history under the Chretien and Martin Liberal governments.
The Conservatives warned that the Liberals' deficit spending would turn into massive and permanent debt.
The chief economist at Scotiabank, Jean-Francois Perrault, has been quoted as saying the Liberals have been far too overconfident in their projections of how their budget will impact growth.
What is even more alarming is how Canada will compete with its neighbours and draw investment with the election of Donald Trump south of the border. Trump has pledged to remove regulation in most sectors in the U.S. economy -- how can Canada compete when the Liberal government is not allowing Canada to be competitive with policies like an increased carbon tax? Such a carbon tax will "shift emissions and jobs to the U.S., helping neither our economy nor the environment."
Additional broken campaign promises
Trudeau and the Liberals constantly made campaign promises on electoral reform, assuring Canadians that the 2015 election would be the last under the ineffective first past the post system. The All Party Committee on Electoral Reform submitted their report suggesting the vast majority of Canadians and experts supported a proportional representation system. Yet the Liberal government has insisted on backing away from initial promises for reform in the press and interviews.
The Liberal party has a history of fiscal irresponsibility and running large deficits, but this Liberal government has started a trend of breaking major campaign promises. As the polls suggest in the first year under a Trudeau Liberal majority, scandals and irresponsible policy decisions are not what the Canadian people signed up for.
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