Photo by Liam Richards/Canadian Press.
The day after the October 19, 2015 federal election, Council of Canadians honorary chairperson Maude Barlow wrote, "While such a majority for one party might not have been our desired outcome, and while we are sad at the loss of many dedicated MPs, we can move forward now to hold the Liberals accountable for their promise of a new way of doing things and a more open and democratic government."
She noted, "Together, you and I will be insisting that Justin Trudeau makes good on his promises of holding a national inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women, negotiating a new Health Accord with the provinces, instituting electoral reform and fixing the 'Fair' Elections Act, ending the war on charities, repealing anti-union legislation, repealing parts of Bill C-51, welcoming more refugees to Canada, protecting the Great Lakes, and banning oil tankers off the West Coast, among other promises."
And Barlow then highlighted, "There are a number of fronts where you and I will have to be particularly on guard, including on trade, where the Liberals support the Trans-Pacific Partnership and its European counterpart, CETA, both of which contain the destructive investor-state dispute settlement mechanism; on water, where the Liberals support flawed public-private partnerships for our water utilities; and on climate, where they support pipelines such as Energy East. We need to send the new Liberal government to the Paris climate talks this December with a clear mandate for swift and meaningful action on climate change."
Two years later, how has the Trudeau government done in the areas outlined by Barlow?
1- Holding a national inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women - the families of murdered and missing Indigenous women are deeply disappointed with the delays and limited mandate of the inquiry.
2- Negotiating a new Health Accord - Trudeau has implemented the Harper government's funding formula for transfer payments to the provinces which will result in a reduction of billions of dollars in transfer payments.
3- Instituting electoral reform and fixing the 'Fair' Elections Act - the Liberals tabled Bill C-33 to reinstate the Voter Information Card and vouching (but have not moved that bill forward), they abandoned their pledge for electoral reform.
4- Ending the war on charities - the Liberals suspended the controversial 'political activity audits' on charities.
5- Repealing anti-union legislation - Trudeau has repealed the Harper government’s controversial anti-union Bills C-377 and C-525.
6- Repealing parts of C-51 - two years after the election Trudeau tabled C-59 which clips some aspects of C-51 while leaving other provisions untouched.
7- Welcoming more refugees to Canada - the Canadian Council for Refugees says the government has not yet made a strong and sustained commitment to increasing immigration levels.
8- Protecting the Great Lakes - there has been no substantive action or significantly increased funding to protect the Great Lakes.
9- Banning oil tankers off the West Coast - the government has banned tankers on the northern part of the coast (while still permitting LNG tankers in that zone), but approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline which will dramatically increase the number of tankers off the southern part of the coast.
10- ISDS in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Canada-EU CETA - Trudeau has championed investor-rights in both agreements and despite public rejection of the TPP is hoping to conclude that deal next month.
11- Private-public partnerships for water utilities - the government has launched a federal infrastructure bank that could result in global capital investing in now public water utilities.
12- Energy East pipeline - while TransCanada withdrew its application for this pipeline, the Trudeau government maintains that it was open to approving it.
13- Meaningful action on climate change - shortly after the election Trudeau adopted the same weak emission reduction targets as Harper, the Auditor General says more needs to be done if Canada is to meet its 2030 emission reduction target.
In her open letter to Trudeau posted just days after he was sworn in to office in November 2015, Barlow affirmed, "Our role as a civil society organization is to hold your government accountable to your promises of a new way of doing things and a more open and democratic government."
This is the work that the Council of Canadians continues to do every day.