Promises vs Reality

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Sources confirm that fighter jets are bitchin’ sweet. Photo - U.S. Navy Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Swink

Sources confirm that fighter jets are bitchin’ sweet. Photo – U.S. Navy Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Swink

Trudeau’s focus may shift from social programs to security

With every election campaign comes a storm of campaign promises. Now that Justin Trudeau has been elected, and the new Parliament is about to convene, it is time to take an even deeper look into what promises have been made to the Canadian electorate.

Campaign material circulated by the Liberal Party spells out five key campaign points, but that’s not where the story ends. The oversized postcard features now Prime Minister Justin Trudeau with boxing gloves on, and bears the heading (all in caps) “Justin Trudeau: Fighting for Our Generation.”

The five promises described are: fighting climate change, forming a youth advisory council, eliminating the discriminatory blood ban, reforming the electoral system, and legalizing and regulating marijuana. Aside from that small sample, the Liberal website provides an 88-page platform document outlining each of their party goals.

But which points are important to university students?

For starters, the Liberals have promised a revamp of the student loan system to provide some much-needed financial relief for indebted students. In their words:

“[We] will increase the level of non-repayable grant assistance to students by $750 million per year, rising to $850 million per year by 2019/20. We will also make our student loan system more flexible. We will ensure that no graduate with student loans will be required to make any repayment until they are earning an income of at least $25,000 per year.”

Also of key concern for university students are the problems surrounding public transit. The Liberal plan includes an investment of $20 billion dollars in that area.

Training for jobs is another focus of the document, attempting to make it possible for all Canadian citizens to find skilled employment.

“Our total investment of an additional $775 million per year for job and skills training will help Canadians get the training they need to find and keep good jobs.”

The Liberal platform also identifies a number of places in which a federal system is not plausible, particularly in the area of childcare.

“We will meet with provinces, territories, and Indigenous communities to begin work on a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework,” reads the platform document, “to deliver affordable, high-quality, flexible, and fully inclusive child care for Canadian families. This work will begin in the first 100 days of a Liberal government and will be funded through our investments in social infrastructure.”

A section on young Canadians highlights the party’s desire to incorporate younger voters into the electoral process:

“Every young person should be registered to vote when they turn 18. We will work with interested provinces and territories, and Elections Canada, to register young Canadians as a part of their high school or CEGEP curriculum.”

“To ensure that no young person loses the opportunity to vote, we will mandate Elections Canada to stay in contact with them if they change addresses after graduation. Finally, to encourage more voter participation, we will support Elections Canada in proactively registering Canadians from groups that historically have lower turnout, such as students.”

It should be noted, however, that plenty has transpired since the election campaign wrapped up. Issues surrounding Syrian refugees and national security have come to the forefront of public consciousness since the Paris tragedies, and calls to slow immigration have been countered with a Liberal announcement to increase the amount of refugees to be accepted into Canada by the end of the year.

The so-called de-muzzling of Canadian scientists by the new Liberal government has already begun.

A recent piece by Global News quoted Innovation, Science and Economic Development Minister Navdeep Bains as saying, “…government scientists and experts will be able to speak freely about their work to the media and the public.”

So, where does that leave students? Good jobs, affordable schooling, and improved public transit sound great, but any campaign involves some level of outlandish promise.

A majority government will give the Liberals a better chance at pushing through the legislation which they deem to be most valuable, but it seems that with the world focused squarely on security, that social programming may need to take the back seat initially.

National security is an area of the party’s platform focused on de-escalation rather than anything else. The promise not to go ahead with the purchase F-35 fighters, and a renewed commitment to Canada’s perceived role as international peacekeeper seems to suggest that the party’s public focus will have to shift in order to appease the public.

As with any election, finding out how the election platform translates into the real world is a matter of patience.

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