Real Change: A New Era In Canadian Politics

77 days.

The longest election campaign in Canadian history that seemed to be a very long campaign and boy, was it ever. Don’t be too surprised if the party leaders enjoyed a drink or two or more after the election came to end on Monday October 19th. That night, we made history as Justin Trudeau becomes our second youngest Prime Minister and the second Trudeau to lead the Canadian government. The Liberals received a stunning total of 181 seats in parliament which makes it a majority government for Canada. Trudeau and the Liberals knocked Stephen Harper and the Conservatives who have been in office for the past decade.

A majority of Canadians wanted Harper out of office due to certain reasons; he gave up on Canadians, his controversial Bill C-51 (which would damage our Rights and Freedoms), his secret trade agreement for the Transpacific Partnership, and most of all, Canadians wanted change after 10 years of the Harper era. But you have to give credit to Harper for lasting almost a decade as our Prime Minister. As he bows out, in comes Trudeau who has officially sworn in as our 23rd Prime Minister today.

During his campaign, Trudeau pledged for real change and his promises may take more time to implement. In the aftermath of his triumphant election campaign, Trudeau has some commitments to tackle especially issues that he mainly focused on during his campaign that includes; finance and taxes, restoring hope and optimism, and perhaps the legalization of marijuana.

Justin Trudeau preached hard about increasing taxes, strengthening the middle class and helping those working hard to join the middle class. He talked about middle class tax cuts that would only benefit those earning $44,700 to $90,000 annually. For taxing the wealthy, there will be a new tax rate of 33% for people who are making $200,000 or more annually.

Last month, Trudeau did say that the middle class tax cuts would be the Liberal government’s first legislation after the election. You can also say goodbye to income splitting for families however, the Liberals did promise to enhance the Canadian Pension Plan while working the provinces and territories. On top of that, they would restore the eligibility age for old age security from 67 to 65. Restoring some faith and hope for families who are looking to have relief on their financial woes which could be sign of Trudeau’s hope and optimism for a better Canada.

We can defeat fear and division with hope and optimism” said Justin Trudeau throughout many campaign events and rallies during the election. Guess what? Not only did we get change, but this time around there is a good chance our country has hope and optimism that could be restored down the road all thanks to Canadians who sent a clear message on voting day.

Trudeau promised to put an end to missing and murdered Aboriginal woman which is a huge way to rebuild the relationship between the First Nations and the government. Secondly, he promised no signs of immigrants having to remove their niqabs when under oath for their Canadian citizenship. He also promised to collaborate with the provinces, rebuild relations with indigenous Canadians, and run an open, ethical and transparent government.

The Liberal commitment to resettle 25,000 refugees was also a response to the countries crisis that is an outcry, along with a promise of $100 million more this year for resettlement and encouraging the private sector to sponsor more people.

The files immigration officials are working on at present connect to a promise made by the outgoing Conservative government in January to resettle 10,000 people by 2018. That deadline has since been moved up, with the department saying in September they intend to meet that target in a year’s time.

Trudeau was arguably one of the leaders who reached out the youth demographic. Trudeau proposed no interest on student loans (OSAP) and students would not have to pay back the loans until they make $25,000 annually instead of the six month saving grace we currently have. This would helpful for many students who are struggling to find employment in their field once they completed their post-secondary education.

But there is some concern that he will be a negative impact when it comes to the energy sector. When Pierre-Elliot Trudeau was Prime Minister, he introduced a National Energy Program that aloud enormous tax increases on energy production in the early 1980’s. This resulted in many families losing their homes in Alberta because of the sector. It’s Justin who is in charge, that was a costly mistake by his father and we’ll see what he does with that and his decision on the Keystone pipeline as well.

Turning from hope and optimism is the current buzz around his new cabinet. If you’re still waiting for Justin Trudeau to announce his cabinet, he did, however the names will not be released until he is sworn in. Trudeau made his choices based on certain factors; gender equality, ethnic diversity, regional distribution and a new balance of new and veteran MP’s, but more so towards young and new versus experience. Obviously this is criticism that Trudeau is putting gender and regional concerns ahead of talent as a top priority in selecting his new cabinet.

The new cabinet will be evenly split with 14 women and 14 men. Trudeau specifically wanted the number below 30 so he can run a more efficient team than Harper previously did who had 39 ministers in his cabinet. With a perfectly balanced combo of hope and optimism with a side of consequences and concerns, there is one other issue surrounding Trudeaumania. The legalization of marijuana. Something that could perhaps become a big change for Canada.

With any promises come a lot of commitments to keep up with those promises. The Liberal party IS committed to legalizing and regulating marijuana. However, Trudeau declined to confirm a timeline for legalization as he did say that legalizing the drug would fix a “failed system” and help “remove the criminal element” linked to the drug. In reality the legalization of marijuana could happen anywhere from a month to a year or two or even beyond that. The Liberals would have to look at the best practices in the other jurisdictions.One other thing to take note of is that decriminalizing marijuana is an easier process than legalizing it.Along with that, the costing platform does not include a plan to regulate or tax marijuana.

Legalization of marijuana will not solve all our problems but in the very least it will be clear the truth lies somewhere in the middle. If we legalize it, how will cops combat drivers who light up before driving? Well, the President of the Canadian Association of Chief of Police Clive Weighill has spoken with police officers in the US. They’ve seen an increase of impaired driving with marijuana use and police cannot easily test a driver suspected of being high (don’t be too surprised if authorities come up with a way to do that with the technology we have today).

A Canada in which weed is legal will likely be a Canada where more people will be stoned. Parents wary of this promise might comfort the possibility that legalization will eliminate the criminal stigma around pot. Making it easier for kids to ask questions regarding the drug.

One day we may see this happen and it seems like a good possibility that it will be legalized. One of the first steps on the path to legalization would be to establish a provincial, territorial and federal task force to hear from public health, substance abuse and public safety experts. Doing so will really look at the big picture and make sure everything gets done before it actually changes.  It’s too early to tell what a pot-friendly Canada would look like. But what it won’t look like is a land full of sober teens.

Among the issues already discussed, here’s what else Trudeau will face once he is our Prime Minister. Climate change is another priority right off the bat for Trudeau because Ontario has already committed to reducing the greenhouse gas emission to 15% by 2020 and other provinces will hopefully do the same. He will look to further that commitment once the United Nations climate change meeting arrives in Paris next month. Public pensions are another commitment from Trudeau as he confirmed a willingness to work with the provinces and territories and with Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne for an Ontario Retirement Pension Plan that’s on the same basis as the existing retirement plan in Quebec. Lastly, infrastructure is another issue since the Liberals pledged to spend $125 billion on infrastructure projects towards: public transit, affordable housing and clean energy products.

A lot is on Justin Trudeau’s plate. It will take time for these promises to settle in. But one thing for sure, Canadians desperately wanted change and we finally got it. Oh, and almost 11,000 Canadians applied for jobs under Trudeau in government. Let’s wait and see how things unfold with our 23rd Prime Minister of Canada.

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