Opinion » Editorial

Now it is time for action



Well, that was an election for the record books.

We saw the highest voter turnout since 1993, with 17,546,697 people voting across this great land — over 68 per cent (though I believe we can still do a lot better).

Here in the West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky riding 65,485 people voted — that's 73.2 per cent. And that doesn't even include the people who registered to vote on election day, Oct.19.

It was a resounding vote of confidence for Liberal candidate, now elected, Pam Goldsmith-Jones.

But it was also a vociferous rejection of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his brand of conservatism.

Many felt he had hijacked what it is to be Canadian. The moral fabric of the nation felt like it was under threat, and at the polls, that counted for something.

Pundits during elections always talk about the economy, healthcare — the big-ticket items.

But this election, in the end, was not about those — though Canada's new PM (Designate) Liberal Justin Trudeau likely swayed a few NDP voters with his promises of major investment into infrastructure.

It was about reclaiming national pride.

One only had to keep an eye on economic indicators to see that the election and its surrounding politics had little to no effect. There was no noticeable reaction in the markets to the polls, to election issues or even to the election result.

Perhaps because there is really not much Trudeau, or anyone, can do to significantly alter employment numbers and economic growth in this global economy.

Unusually, the results of Canada's election were front-page news in many parts of the world — yes, the name "Trudeau" has brand recognition no doubt — but it could be argued that the Harper government created a certain chill on the diplomatic front in recent years, making the unfolding change in Canada worth watching.

The Guardian newspaper, a U.K. institution, ran a live blog of the election calling the Liberal victory "stunning."

The election puts Canada on the left of centre as a G7 power, a shift for Liberals and perhaps a message for other liberal parties internationally.

The rest of the world will soon meet Trudeau, as he is likely to attend the G-20 summit in Turkey mid November, the Asia Pacific Economic Summit in Manila Nov 18-19, where trade, climate, and global military strategies are up for review, then a week later it's off to a Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Malta, before the United Nations climate conference in December in Paris.

The UN summit is a conference that will set energy policy for the next century, so Canada's position at the table needs to be well thought out and meaningful.

In June, Trudeau outlined the party's environmental platform during a visit to Vancouver: "It's time Canada put a price on carbon pollution," Trudeau said, promising to "work with the provinces in the first 90 days of taking office to establish a framework for reducing Canada's collective carbon footprint.

"Make no mistake: the Liberal Party will be putting a price on carbon."

Here in B.C., climate considerations often go hand-in-hand with tourism. On the pipeline issue — Whistler council has come out firmly against the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline — Trudeau has said the Liberals will overhaul the federal environmental review process so that future works will have public trust. He hasn't come out against the pipelines, per se.

He is opposed to oil tankers on B.C.'s north coast.

If the Liberals stay true to their word the Cohen Commission recommendations on declining sockeye salmon will get dusted off and implemented — good news for local fisheries groups.

Let's also hope the Liberals spend some quality time looking at tourism issues considering that few sectors of the economy can give the return on investment it does — for every dollar spent it returns $3.20.

The sector needs attention.

"Between 2002 and 2013, many countries around the world posted international tourist arrival gains. Not Canada. The weak Canadian dollar will improve the annuals for 2015, but we need to build long-term sustainable growth. Currently, Canadians travelling abroad are spending more money than those international visitors arriving in Canada, creating a growing travel deficit, which affects our global competitiveness," said Darlene Grant Fiander, President, Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, recently.

In the lead up to the election Trudeau's party said it would ensure that the New Building Canada Fund will prioritize investments in roads, bridges, transportation corridors, ports, and border gateways, facilitating ease of access and movement for travellers, while ensuring the safety and integrity of Canada's borders. It also pledged to facilitate the movement of tourists within communities by more than tripling federal investment in public transit over the next four years, and quadrupling it over 10 years.

Goldsmith-Jones, during an all-candidates forum, also said the Liberals would work to lift the Mexican visa requirement — let's hope that gets a timely consideration.

She has also promised to look at the Temporary Foreign Worker program and the labour issue in Whistler in particular.

During the campaign, the Liberals said they would implement a five-point plan to "fix" the TFW program ensuring it is "returned to its original purpose: filling jobs when qualified Canadians cannot be found. The program should be used in exceptional situations and be dedication to the Liberal vision of immigration, creating and encouraging a pathway to citizenship for those who come to Canada to do work."

Here's hoping the energy and vitality the Liberals showed during the longest election campaign in Canadian history continues into the coming months, as they tackle the issues voters want to see acted on.


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