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A guide to Maclean’s 2016 Trudeau Report Card

Marking one year since the Liberals’ election triumph, we examine what they’ve done in a year—and what’s next


 
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to deliver a statement before the start of a Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1, 2016. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives to deliver a statement before the start of a Liberal caucus meeting on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, June 1, 2016. (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

As the Liberals mark one year since their Oct. 19, 2015 election win, Maclean’s takes stock of the big files in our Trudeau Report Card, covering all the major issues and surveying many of the key election promises that helped propel Prime Minister Justin Trudeau into office.

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In this overview, I argue that the best way to make sense of this government is to keep in mind two themes: “inclusive growth”—the pro-middle-class economic policy agenda Trudeau & Co. began hatching years ago—and “diversity”, a surprise focus in last fall’s election that didn’t shown any signs of fading over a weird year in international politics.

On the economy, Chris Sorensen reports that Trudeau’s promise to drive economic growth, largely by deficit-financed infrastructure spending, remains very much a work in progress. “Infrastructure is fine if it makes economic sense,” economist Don Drummond told him. “But will the right projects be selected?” The Liberals are promising a log against a backdrop of sluggish global growth.

On the workings of government and democracy, I look at Trudeau’s closely watched push to change the way Canadians elect their MPs, but also at the government’s so-far lower profile plan to dramatically reform access to information rules. There’s a lot of skepticism around Ottawa on the electoral-reform front. A big move on transparency might shift the focus.

On the environment, Shannon Proudfoot looks at the aftermath of Trudeau’s move to impose a national carbon price, even if a few provinces strongly resent the federal incursion. As well, she reports on the high expectations among environmentalists, and their lingering fear, as one puts it, of the Liberals’ “strong connections to the corporate sector.”

On national security, Michael Friscolanti examines a swath of Liberal election promises on everything from the way Ottawa combats terrorism at home to what military hardware it deploys abroad. On that long to-do list, one year after the election, there’s been little movement on some key files, and his story looks at the big decisions still ahead.

On Indigenous issues, Nancy Macdonald sorts through a recent string of federal decisions that have First Nations leaders feeling discouraged about what looks more like business as usual at the federal level than a much-hyped new relationship. But key moves might ease that nascent sense of betrayal, including the spending of $8.4 billion earmarked for priorities like housing and education.

There are a lot of individuals worth watching as the Trudeau government rounds the bend into its second year in power, but we highlight six here—ranging from key cabinet ministers to influential outside voices on controversial issues.

It’s a fascinating time to sit back and try to make sense of this government’s progress on what can seem a bewilderingly long list of election promises. “We are now coming into the phase where it’s not just selfies,” as Immigration Minister John McCallum told me. “It’s also real decision-making, where not everybody in the population will be happy with every decision.”


Maclean’s complete Trudeau Report Card:

OVERVIEW: A bumpy road ahead

ECONOMY: A sluggish start to delivering on promises

ELECTORAL REFORM: A long way from a breakthrough

CLIMATE CHANGE: After flexing muscle, year two will tell

SECURITY AND MILITARY: Lowering expectations

INDIGENOUS PEOPLE: A relationship sours

TOUGHEST TASKS: Immigration, marijuana, home care

LEADERS: The six change influencers to watch in year two


 

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