Forget The Hype: How Is Canada’s PM, Justin Trudeau Doing In His First 6 Months In Power?

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For those of you who don’t know Justin Trudeau, he’s Canada’s newest Prime Minister. While the Canadian media is frothing at the mouth about his attraction and his political past as a substitute drama teacher, it is important to look past the idealism and to consider the key differences between him and Canada’s former Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Trudeau’s campaign promises (which includes the relocation of 10,000 American liberal refugees once Trump becomes President), and the general cohesion between both the Liberals and the Conservatives in the Canadian political landscape.

Trudeau’s Early Progress: Looking At the “Trudeau Metre”

Trudeau is new to politics, although he has always been in the public eye, as the son of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau. Being around politics his whole life, he is more than comfortable in his new role. And he’s been busy. Trudeau Metre is an online site that tracks Justin Trudeau’s campaign promises, all 219 of them, and whether he is currently fulfilling them as Prime Minister. Now, 219 seems like a small number of promises to make. I’m sure Senator Sanders has made thousands, but unlike Sanders, Trudeau has already been elected and doesn’t have to worry about term limits.

Screen Shot 2016-05-09 at 10.09.51 AMImage Source: Trudeau metre

As of the publishing of this article (the 186th day in office for Trudeau), he has achieved 29 promises –over 10% – a great start considering that political terms have no fixed length in Canada). On top of that, 65 promises are in progress, which is great, considering the widespread support and warmth Trudeau is experiencing from Canadian politicians and the younger demographics in Canadian society.

Comparing Trudeau and Harper

Like any two politicians from opposing parties and political ideologies, Harper and Trudeau could not be more different in personality and politics. Harper may have been an effective politician, but he was not well-liked by Canadians. As a conservative, he valued economic prosperity over environmental concerns. One of the main issues that Liberals and the NDP (Canada’s social party) had with the Conservatives during Harper’s term in office had to do with the Keystone Pipeline, which would have transported crude oil from Alberta (Canada’s Texas) to Texas (the state formerly known as Mexico’s Texas).

Another important difference between Harper and Trudeau was the way in which they view the military. Harper joined the Coalition of the Willing with former President Bush after 9/11, even if such support was discreet. Trudeau, by contrast, has suspended Canadian military involvement in the Middle East, seeking to end Canada’s involvement in Syria and Iraq against ISIS and other local terrorist groups, instead focusing on normalizing Canadian-Iranian relations. He has also vowed to take in over 25,000 Syrian refugees in response to the country’s growing refugee crisis.

The Big Promises of Trudeau

With any election, voters can expect to hear a laundry list of promises. Politicians have a knack for telling us what we want to hear and it is not surprising that they are often unable to follow through on a large portion of them. Trudeau, like any campaigning politician, made a lot of promises, but how is he doing so far? Listed below are a few of the major promises and his overall progress:

Overall Progress of Trudeau’s Mandate

Cut middle-class taxes from 22% to 20.5%. (Achieved)

Legalize marijuana fully – This achievement is currently in progress, and major steps are expected in 2017. (In Progress)

Canceled family income splitting – Trudeau believes income splitting harms the middle and lower classes. (Achieved)

Promoted gender and ethnic neutrality in his Cabinet. (Achieved)

Reduce small business tax rate from 11% to 9% (Failed)

Brought in 25,000 Syrian refugees (Achieved, 2 months late)

End Operation IMPACT in Syria and Iraq (Achieved)

The Political Climate in Canada: Fear vs. Hope

Not all Canadians are pleased with Trudeau. Wealthier Canadians think he is out to harm them and steal their hard-earned money with tax hikes and believe his policies will lead to brain drain. Others think Trudeau won the election based on his celebrity and the prestige of his last name, rather than his accomplishments. While the more blue-collar demographics are fearful of Trudeau and believe that he will turn Canada into a heavily taxed welfare state that resembles the latest Coachella festival.

In comparison, young voters are enamored by their young, hip Prime Minister. Trudeau signifies a change from the old guard, from a Conservative Prime Minister, who was more focused on less attractive policies like the economy and the military. He offers young Canadians something to look forward to, a promise of meaningful change, and a progressive outlook.

At the same time, prior to heading the Liberal Party, Trudeau had no direct political experience himself. He was a substitute drama teacher, a summer camp counselor, and a ski bum in world-famous Whistler, British Columbia. As a political figure, Trudeau is ambiguous. Canadians are unsure of what his beliefs are, and what his policies will be. However, with no fixed term length for Canadian Prime Ministers, it is too early to tell how Canadian politics will be affected by his election into its highest office (especially when marijuana is fully legalized).

While it would be naïve to suggest that he will accomplish all of his promises, he has already started working on several of the major ones. With no fixed length of office and 110 more promises to deliver on, things are currently looking good for Trudeau. While he broke 15 promises, simply breaking them does not mean he will not champion them again in the future. The thing about Trudeau is that he is both a political insider and outsider at the same time. He grew up while his father was Prime Minister and was immersed in a political household and a political lifestyle.

A Shift in Canadian Ideology: From Restraint to Resplendence

trump-trudeau-finalImage Source: Attn

With Trudeau successfully being elected, we have witnessed a great political shift in Canada. He is symbolic of a shift in Canadian values and ideology. While Conservative Harper focused on rejuvenating the economy, lowering unemployment, and fighting the War on Terror, Trudeau’s election signifies a shift to more pressing issues at home, especially to younger generations of Canadians.

Trudeau is emblematic of a return to humanitarianism, rather than aggression, to helping the middle and lower classes, rather than the wealthy, to spend taxpayer’s money on social programs rather than exercise fiscal restraint. Trudeau and his Liberal Party are also very concerned about the environment, promising to do more to preserve it. He is the embodiment of the progressive movement and he has been elected at a time where he can continue to develop the Canadian identity in a positive way.

The spectrum of Canadian politics is much smaller than in the United States. American politics are more spread out, most possibly due to the large population and geographic size of the United States. There are many different and diverse communities, spread out across the national landscape, which all have different issues they are concerned about. This greatly affects political processes throughout the United States.

Canada, by contrast, has a small population, which is not as spread out. Most people live near the Canada-America border and communities generally value certain issues based on which province or territory they are from. Since most Canadians live in urban areas, the issues they are concerned about are not as widespread, leading to a more constricted political divergence between politicians and parties.

So there you have it, Trudeau is both a promising and worrying figure. His political experience is questionable at best, but his ideologies are sound, and he appears to understand what Canada needs at this critical turning point in its political landscape. At the end of the day, if Trudeau goes down as a poor Prime Minister, he will be remembered for breaking Harper’s iron grasp and for ushering in a new era of progressive Canadian politics.


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