On June 16, Justin Trudeau released a comprehensive platform to modernize Canadian democracy. The plan builds on legislative proposals already presented to Parliament and commits to even more ambitious reforms.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper has plunged Canada into a democratic deficit, not just a fiscal one.
Harper’s government has suspended Parliament to evade investigation; it has attacked the Auditor General, the Parliamentary Budget Officer and even the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; it has barred government-funded researchers from publishing their findings; it has rigged sole-source contracts for government spending; it circulated a manual to Conservative MPs on how to disrupt the operation of parliamentary committees and cripple the function of the House of Commons and the Senate.
Harper has broken his promise never to appoint an unelected Senator 57 times. Are there any promises on democratic reform we should expect Harper to keep?
From Trudeau and the Liberal team, we can envision a future where Canada becomes a modernized democracy.
A future in which the digital age is embraced, and the default is to share information freely whenever possible.
A future that encourages youth to vote and participate in democracy.
A future that allows the Senate to function more independently for thorough legislative review, and not just as an instrument of the House of Commons.
A future that collects, publishes, and applies the research of our best minds for smarter policy and the greater good.
The promises Trudeau outlined last month are substantial and already backed by legislative proposals that Trudeau and other Liberal MPs put before the House of Commons.
Trudeau’s Bill C-613 would have improved transparency through amendments to the Access to Information Act.
The proposal was supported by MPs of every party except Harper’s.
David McGuinty’s Bill C-544 would have eliminated partisan government advertising.
Our price tag as taxpayers for Conservative marketing disguised as government ads is a staggering $750 million and counting.
Wayne Easter’s Bill C-551 proposed oversight of Canada’s intelligence community by legislators.
We are the only country among our Five Eyes allies — Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom and the United States — that does not have monitoring like this already in place.
Carolyn Bennett introduced Bill C-260, which would have reinstated the long-form census and restored the ability of government agencies, municipalities, non-profits, and businesses to make decisions based on the quality data the census provided.
Trudeau also wants to become the last prime minister to be elected in the first-past-the-post system, and has committed to introducing legislation to reform our electoral system within 18 months of getting elected, giving Parliament and Canadians an opportunity to study and contribute to these important reforms.
The pledge that Trudeau made June 16 is one to make real change.
Unlike the broken promises of Harper, or the empty promises of Mulcair like abolishing the Senate, Trudeau’s don’t require amendment of the Constitution or the consent of the provinces.
They are achievable now, and only require a leader with the vision and drive to make them happen.
I have never been more convinced that Trudeau is focused on the future, and committed to a modern, transparent, and accountable government.
Maj. Stephen Fuhr (retired), Liberal candidate for Kelowna–Lake Country