Liberals put their election platform in place - expect to vote in the not too distant future

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 12th, 2021



A record breaking 4000 Canadians participated in the Liberals’ fully virtual 3 day, 60 hour, biennial policy convention this past weekend. And 26 policy resolutions were adopted including; a national pharmacare program, a universal basic income (by a vote of 491-85), and national standards for long term care, as the top three priorities. These now become party policy.

trudeau Justin

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Mr. Trudeau delivered a blistering closing address which looked every bit like a pre-election stump speech. Trudeau claims he has no interest in an election at this time. But the polls are good for the Liberals, Canadians are finally seeing vaccines arrive, and the opposition is divided.

Erin O’Toole is battling his own party of climate change deniers, and a-woman’s-right-to-choose is the ghost still haunting the party. Then Mr. O’Toole has some suicidal issues of his own making; namely, bringing back assault weapons and killing the CBC.

The new Green Party leader finds herself in a tussle with the party’s old guard amid accusations of racism. The NDP is struggling to find an issue on which it can out-left the Liberals, and their leader has faded into the background and become the de facto silent partner in the Liberal minority government. And Trudeau must know that every single election during COVID has returned the incumbents, and even propelled a few into a majority position.

Mr. O’Toole is calling for a public inquiry into Canada’s response to the pandemic. That piece of theatre could spell trouble for Mr. Trudeau, given his government’s failings in border control, as recently reported by the Auditor General. Still the Liberals claim they’d welcome such an inquiry. Perhaps they figure it would allow them to focus on the failures of the provinces.

At the outset the provinces rejected Trudeau’s offer of invoking the federal emergency measures act and claimed jurisdiction over administering public health measures to keep the epidemic in check. And they have largely failed, repeatedly, except in Atlantic Canada, allowing this country to recently surpass the US in new COVID infection rates.

Given that most of the provincial premiers are political allies of Mr. O’Toole – one could ask where his voice was in any of this. And in an election Trudeau would claim credit for the economic measures he introduced: workers sick pay, wage subsidies and CERB; which just about everyone supported.

Trudeau has been pretty consistent at following through on his party’s resolutions. Cannabis legalization is a case in point. And he even tried to implement electoral reform before giving up and breaking his promise of change. But he has expressed dislike for the universal basic income policy which almost everyone else in his party wants. So people may be wondering whether Mr. Trudeau is really as liberal as one would expect given his record of financial deficits.


Mark Carney comes out of the closet – he’s a Liberal

The keynote address by former Bank of Canada governor Mark Carney got the Liberal chattering class excited. Would he make a suitable replacement for Mr. Trudeau were the Liberals to lose the next election? Carney, who has finally come out of the closet to announce his liberalism, would bring a huge amount of financial credibility to a government now running up massive debt. Perhaps this could be another Paul Martin moment – someone loved by both liberals and fiscal conservatives.


Chrystia Freeland,, Minister of Finance preparing a budget that will set new deficit records ?

And speaking of money, Canada’s current finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, talked about a window of political opportunity for her pet initiative, a universal child care program. Among the other resolutions were a couple demanding a Canadian ‘green new deal’ and a post pandemic ‘green’ recovery. And, interestingly, the fourth priority item called for a high speed rail network.

All of these progressive measures will involve some new spending and Canada is already heavily into the red just from all the pandemic security blanket measures. So it was discouraging that relatively pocket-book painless resolutions to increase capital gains taxation and introduce an inheritance tax for estates valued over 2 million were defeated.

Perhaps the delegates think we can grow our way out of debt, or that we should wait for inflation to shrink the relative size of what we owe ourselves.

Chart April 10 0 covid

There wasn’t a lot of media coverage of either this event or the NDP convention on the same weekend. The front pages are mostly full of the passing of Prince Philip and the ongoing misery of COVID infections and deaths and the race against time to vaccinate our people. But, whether right or left or in the middle, media coverage of COVID has become more united and has coalesced around a common theme. Our governments have let us all down.

Still 4000 Canadians had enough faith in the future of the Liberal party to make their voices heard at this policy convention, even if it has to be conducted over the internet. And sadly even that number was smaller than the number of people who contracted viral infections in Ontario the day after the convention concluded.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.




Background links:

Liberal Convention –    Priority Resolutions –    Basic Annual Income

Green New Deal –   Mark Carney Coming Out –    Mark Carney

Our Governments Fail Us –    Ontario Failures –   Why Does Tam Still

Lockdowns Meaningless –   Public Health Canada Meltdown

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6 comments to Liberals put their election platform in place – expect to vote in the not too distant future

  • James

    The overall handling of the pandemic, inability to acquire sufficient vaccines, scandal after scandal after scandal, blackface, playing dress-up in India, giving our money away to other countries, etc., etc…. How anyone in their right mind can vote Liberal is beyond me.

    That said, the Conservatives need an emergency meeting to put someone more likeable in the federal leadership position immediately, otherwise in spite of how incredibly incapable Justin Trudeau has proven himself to be, we might just find ourselves with a Liberal majority. God help us!

    • David Barker

      James, I must admit I get annoyed at hearing comments such as yours “inability to acquire sufficient vaccines”. That is a refrain heard today from O’Toole and other PCs. Much complaining, but absolutely no alternatives offered. James, please tell us all, just what do you suggest our govt could do to get the four vaccine companies to eliminate their manufacturing issues.

      Today in the Commons O’Toole cited Israel as an example for the Liberals to copy. Israel has pretty much vaccinated everyone. Well by everyone I mean everyone except the Palestinians. Shame on them for that.

      But how did the Israelis manage to secure such a large quantity of the Pfiser vaccine?

      Israel pays significantly more for each vaccine dose of the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine, reportedly about €23 (US$28) per dose compared with the €12 paid by the EU countries and Canada.

      Israel’s government also agreed with vaccine manufacturers to provide weekly data from the vaccination campaign to them. This includes infection and vaccination numbers, as well as patient demographics such as age and gender. The data is sent to Pfizer anonymously, according to Israeli officials.

      You can bet your life had the Liberal govt either paid an above market value or agreed to provide such a huge amount of data to the vaccine manufacturers you, James, and PCs like O’Toole, Remple, Poilievre would be crying blue murder.

      So just what do you think the govt could be doing that you could support?

      • James

        Your annoyedness aside, what part of my statement that the Federal government has been unable to acquire sufficient vaccine is in any way false? Let me guess, you’re not happy with Premier Ford’s handling of the pandemic, but find nothing wrong with Trudeau’s failures? How about we drop the politics and let’s start being honest in this country. Other countries with far less money and far less connections than we have have somehow done a far superior job of acquiring vaccines and protecting their people. They’re dealing with the same manufacturing issues we are, yet somehow they still get vaccine, and lots of it. Justin Trudeau has failed us. Doug Ford has failed us. They’ve played politics throughout, trying to find a balance between what should be done, and what will keep their supporters happy. It’s not working. I won’t pretend to know every little detail about how vaccine is secured, it’s not my job to know that, all I know is that our country has failed miserably in doing so. Perhaps instead of buying vaccine for other countries, Trudeau should have taken a Canada first approach, just like everyone else did. Perhaps instead of directing what little vaccine we do have to whichever advocacy or ethnic group yells the loudest we should have taken a more logical and strategic approach and gotten the vaccine into the arms of the essential workers and people living in the areas where the numbers were the highest. They’re finally starting to do that now, albeit too late and 5 months after the vaccines started arriving. This pandemic has sunk our government into depths of debt that we never could have imagined, so much so that really does the money even matter anymore? I don’t even care about the cost, we have to get out of this, and we’re never going to be able to pay it back anyway, especially the longer we allow this pandemic to spiral out of control. Close the borders completely, use stronger lockdowns, and let’s get our house in order. These half measures are only prolonging this. I’m sure most businesses would gladly accept one strong and effective lockdown rather than crippling one week on, one week off, 5 people in, 10 people out, blah blah blah. The economic, social and mental health impacts of this pandemic will be felt for years to come. While Americans are now beginning to travel, attend baseball games and enjoy concerts, we’re slipping backwards, and are worse off now than we were a year ago, and really with no end in sight, all because our government is trying (and failing) to keep political interests happy instead of taking strong action and doing what needs to be done. We can’t control what happens in other countries, but we can control what happens here. What I will support is a real and concentrated effort to push politics aside for once, and do what’s right for the Canadian people. This isn’t about the next election, this is about getting Canadians vaccinated, getting people back to work, and kids back in school. At this point, knowing what we know, anyone who defends our government and thinks they have done a good job of managing this pandemic needs to give their head a shake.

        • David Barker

          For me it is not about Trudeau or Ford when I question your comment about vaccine acquisition. I asked you what more could the federal government have done or could do to improve the flow of vaccines? I note like the opposition parties you fail to make any suggestions. Easy to throw mud!

          Did you know the Netherlands is at the bottom or very close to it of the 27 EU countries when comes to vaccines administered. And yet there are manufacturing facilities within its borders. But like Canada, like other countries it cannot hijack the product.

          You put forward the “Canada first” philosophy. Let me say I do have a problem with that as it goes very much against what Canada stands for. Having said that when the fed govt took vaccines from the COVAX program, as it was entitled, in order to get vaccines to Canadians it was heavily criticized.

          All Provincial governments outside of the Atlantic Bubbke have mismanaged their responses to the pandemic. Non-esential interprovincial travel should have been halted from the start. The l9ckdowns should have been as harsh as those applied in Aus and NZ. Our lockdowns have been like a Swiss cheese. This shows in clear contrast the weakness of our federal system, by which I mean the federal government is beholden to the Provincial governments. The powers need to be inverted with a federal government having overriding powers and dictating to the Provinces not only how to respond to the pandemic, but setting equal standards across all Provinces in respect of health care, education, welfare and the like, and to prohibit inter-provincial trade barriers.

          Please don’t use the USA as an example of how to manage the pandemic. Yes, the states are opening up, against CDC advice and even as their healthcare facilities remain stretched and transmission still at a high rate. In a few weeks you will see the awful harvest they will reap.

  • Sheila Ludgate

    Just curious – who finds Chrystia Freeland “very sincere and likeable”? While admittedly not a scientific survey, of the people I’ve polled (particularly women), most find her highly disagreeable, primarily because she rarely (if ever) answers a question, but sticks to her script assuring us all about how hard she & the team are working for Canadians. Anyway, moot point for me since I will not be voting Liberal in any upcoming election, for more reasons than I care to enumerate here. I am ashamed of our federal representatives, including my local MP. They are not working for me, of that I’m sure.

  • Hans Jacobs

    IMO Mark Carney has always been underwhelming at best. He may have a PhD but he has exhibited inadequate understanding of the tight relationship among Economics, Psychology, and Politics. He might be an adequate Finance Minister but not necessarily.
    Chrystia Freeland, on the other hand, is an exceptional performer who would make a great PM. She is also very sincere and “likeable” (even Doug Ford seems to like her!). If voters don’t like you, they won’t vote for you – which is yet another reason O’Toole is unlikely to become PM.