PrimeTime Politics: “The Big 5” Looks at Key Promises

PrimeTime Politics: “The Big 5” Looks at Key Promises

UPDATED February 2, 2018 8:38pmET

Watch PrimeTime Politics (8pm ET / 5pm PT) for a week-long, five-part series on “The Big 5” — five major promises made by Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government — and how close (or not) they’ve come to accomplishing them.

Why undertake this series now?

Because these were fundamental pledges from the 2015 Liberal platform. And we’ve now passed the halfway point between that election and the next scheduled federal vote in 2019.

So what have the results been?

Monday: Trade

Trade Promise

The Trudeau government pledged to work on agreements in crucial negotiations, from NAFTA to CETA to TPP. To pursue new trade deals with China, India, and other growing economic powers. To pursue a “progressive” trade agenda that encompasses, the environment, indigenous rights, and gender parity. And to be more transparent with Canadians about trade negotiations.

Canada Trade Facts

The 2016 election of Donald Trump put NAFTA back on the negotiating table, and talks have continued into 2018 as the three countries struggle to reach agreement on several issues.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer had harsh words today for Canadian trade policy, though he said hope remains for a deal:

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland responded:

Here are some more key numbers on Canada’s continental trade:

  • Canadian exports to Mexico grew 14 per cent in 2016 — but Canada’s merchandise trade deficit with Mexico reached $25.6 billion CAD, second only to the deficit with China. (Global Affairs Canada)
  • There were 35,203 Canadian business that exported $341.3 billion to the U.S. in 2016. The vast majority of enterprises employ 500 or fewer people, though the majority of exports come from larger firms. (Statistics Canada)
  • Canadian energy exports to the U.S. fell by $18 billion in 2016 — though auto-related exports grew by $6.3 billion, and wood products rose by $2.3 billion (Global Affairs Canada)

Here’s Laura Dawson, a Canada-U.S. trade expect at the Wilson Center, on the NAFTA timeline and why there’s “such a long way to go”:

Watch the full segment:

Tuesday: Indigenous Affairs

Indigenous Affairs 2015 Promise

That promise was followed by mandate letters where newly-installed Prime Minister Justin Trudeau told each cabinet minister that:

No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

Housing, infrastructure, health (including mental health care), community policing, child welfare, and education were highlighted as areas for improvement.


  • a national inquiry into missing and murdered indigenous women
  • the elimination of First Nation long-term drinking water advisories by 2021
  • adoption of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People (UNDRIP)
  • adoption of the 94 “calls to action” from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission

Indigenous Affairs Three Facts

Indigenous Services Minister Jane Philpott discusses the potential process for returning control of child welfare to Canada’s indigenous communities:

Watch the full segment, including analysis from Indigenous leaders and MPs:

Wednesday: Infrastructure

PTP Infrastructure 2015 Promise

Infrastructure spending was a key element of the Liberal party’s 2015 economic platform.

The following year’s economic update pledged $187 billion in new federal money over 11 years.

Phase one was aimed at public transit, waste water systems, housing, and climate change protection.

Phase two was announced in 2017: infrastructure that support trade, such as ports and other transportation facilities.

PTP Infrastructure Facts

But there have been delays and unspent money, with everything from weather to labour disputes to the approval process cited as reasons.

Here’s Infrastructure Minister Amarjeet Sohi on the perceived funding delays — and whether the infrastructure plan is meeting its stated goal of stimulating Canada’s economy:

Watch the full interview:

Also watch Peter Van Dusen’s conversation with Jenny Gerbasi, president of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Winnipeg’s deputy mayor:

Watch the full segment on infrastructure:

Thursday: Military Procurement

Liberal 2015 Promise Military Procurement

Although Boeing’s trade action against Bombardier has failed, the dispute could still loom over any future Boeing bid for Canadian fighters, according to the minister responsible for federal procurement.

The December 2017 announcement of a competition to replace Canada’s CF-18 fleet included the proviso that companies “responsible for harm to Canada’s economic interests will be at a distinct disadvantage” in the bidding process.

The “harm” criteria is still being worked on, according to Carla Qualtrough, including what period of time Canadian officials will use to consider a company’s past actions.

“Very important decisions will have to be made in terms of the timeline we’re looking at, what activities,” Qualtrough told CPAC’s Peter Van Dusen on Thursday.

“It could be that we look over the past number of years, or that we look back over the time of the (request for proposal) process.”


Qualtrough previously said the government hoped to motivate suppliers to “behave in such a way that they won’t be at a disadvantage at the time of assessment.”

Last week the U.S. International Trade Commission rejected Boeing’s request for import duties against Bombardier’s C Series aircraft – reversing a Department of Commerce decision to impose tariffs.

The dispute led Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to state in September 2017 that: “we won’t do business with a company that’s busy trying to sue us and put our aerospace workers out of business.”

Canada then cancelled plans to purchase 18 Boeing Super Hornet fighter jets. The government will instead buy used F-18s from the Australian air force, along with the open competition for a permanent fighter replacement.

Watch Peter Van Dusen’s full interview with Public Services and Procurement Minister Carla Qualtrough:

The Liberals promised to fix a perennial problem in national defence: the procurement system that uses billions of dollars to acquire military equipment but struggles with cost and time overruns.

What have the results been, by air and by sea?

First, the replacement process for Canada’s aged CF-18 fleet.

The 2015 Liberal platform called for an open competition instead of the Harper government’s plan to buy F-35 stealth jet fighters.

That changed to an agreement with Boeing for 18 fighters as an interim measure, with a “permanent” jet chosen by 2021.

But there were more developments in late 2017.

Faced with a multi-billion-dollar trade complaint by Boeing against Bombardier, Ottawa cancelled its plan to buy Boeing jets.

Instead, Canada will buy used F-18s from the Australian air force, with “permanent” jets not expected to begin arriving until the mid-2020s.

Here’s Qualtrough on the effort to shift longstanding bureaucratic norms on procurement:

Another procurement saga: replacing the Royal Canadian Navy’s surface combat vessels.

The project is now years behind schedule and expected to cost billions of dollars above the initial estimate.

As for naval supply ships, the government has decided to buy one interim ship instead of two, causing 800 layoffs at Quebec’s Davie Shipyard.

PTP Military Procurement Facts

Watch the full segment:

Friday: Marijuana

Marijuana 2015 Liberal Promise

The marijuana legalization bill (C-45) is now before the Senate, along with separate legislation (C-46) on impaired driving.

Will royal assent come before the government’s self-imposed July 2018 deadline?

Here’s Bill Blair, parliamentary secretary for justice and health, and a key government voice on the marijuana file:

In December, Ottawa and the provinces came to an agreement on excise tax revenues once legal cannabis is being sold. The federal government will keep 25% of revenue, up to an annual limit of $100 million.

The rest goes to the provinces and territories, who are responsible for overseeing distribution and retail sales.

MORE ON Selling and Taxing Marijuana: Plans From Ottawa and the Provinces

Other questions remain, though:

  • Will new retail operations make a dent in illicit sales and the power of organized crime?
  • Do police have enough funding and training ahead of legalization? On the federal front, Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor pledged $46 million over five years for public education and awareness programs.
  • Will there be issues with different provincial laws for age of possession, availability, and where cannabis can be used?

Watch Martin Stringer probe the marijuana issues with a panel of MPs:

Watch the full segment:

Marijuana Fast Facts

-Andrew Thomson