Trudeau’s new look, new direction

Trudeau’s new look, new direction

The ratification of the Treaty between Mexico, the US, and Canada (T-MEC) will be the first order of business of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Justin Trudeau returned from his Christmas break in Costa Rica with a new look.

The election on October 21st was a close shave. Trudeau’s Liberal Party won 1m fewer votes than it had four years before and lost its majority in Parliament. He now leads a minority government dependent on other parties for support, especially the left-wing New Democrats (NDP) and the Bloc Québécois, which advocates independence for Quebec.

The Liberals won no seats in the western prairie provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Trudeau interprets this setback as a rebuff to his governing style rather than to his policies. He was a global cheerleader for every progressive cause, from welcoming refugees to expanding transgender rights. This grated on some voters. Ethical lapses, especially demoting the justice minister after she refused to help a big engineering firm avoid prosecution for bribery, compounded the damage.

Trudeau’s first-term policies are easier to defend. They included legalizing cannabis; a new child benefit, which cut poverty and lifted middle-class incomes; a national price on carbon; and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with the United States and Mexico. In a recent interview with the Canadian Press, a news agency, Trudeau asserted that voters “agree with the general direction” of his government but acknowledged that they want a change of tone.

The ratification of the Treaty between Mexico, the United States and Canada (T-MEC) will be the first order of business of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau when the Canadian Parliament resumes its work, the Canadian president said Tuesday.

At the conclusion of a three-day withdrawal from the cabinet, the Prime Minister announced that his Government will begin the formal parliamentary process for ratification on Monday, January 27. The complete bill will be presented in the legislature next Wednesday.

“We will make sure we move forward in the right way and that means ratifying this new NAFTA as quickly as possible,” he said in Winnipeg, Manitoba.

Change in his second term is likely to go beyond that. Trudeau will need policies to placate those he has angered. He faces new constraints. Money will be a bigger one than his lack of a parliamentary majority. Although public finances are healthy, Trudeau cannot spend as freely as he did in his first term.

Trudeau’s biggest second-term priority is the same as it was in his first: boosting the middle class. His new cabinet includes Canada’s first “minister of middle-class prosperity”, Mona Fortier, who has a mandate to incorporate quality-of-life measurements into the government’s decision-making.

The new Parliament has already enacted a tax cut for the middle class. That accounts for nearly a third of the C$57bn ($44bn) of extra spending and revenue cuts that Trudeau plans over the next four years.


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