Opinion » Maxed Out

The Liberals get graded


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Well, a year ago yesterday it was all sunshine... or perhaps sunny ways... or perhaps sonny boy. Whatever it may have been, the past year has suggested it was actually the Not Ready for Prime Time Players, er, Government.

Those of us with more liberal leanings than Harper the Hun were giddy with relief. Ding dong, the witch was dead. We may have been a bit less giddy about handing a majority government over to sonny boy but frankly, anything was better than another four years of the Passion of Pudge. Anything!

But it's been a year, a whole year, and the "progress" made by the Trudeau government has been such I've been having kind, revisionist thoughts about Paul... whatshisname, oh yeah, Martin, a.k.a. Mr. Dithers. On reflection, that's not entirely fair. After all, Mr. Dithers had spent his considerable adult life primping for his chance to become Prime Minister and when it finally happened proved to be the proverbial dog that caught the car. At least PM Sunshine had a platform; Mr. Dithers didn't even have the planks with which to make one.

But, like the last paragraph said, it's been a year. If you had a child in school and he or she had achieved as little tangible progress in readin', writin', and 'rithmetic as JT has in meeting his campaign promises, you'd be begging the teacher to hold him/her back — self-esteem be damned. You'd be digging into your RSP to hire a tutor, several perhaps, and taking away Facebook and sushi privileges.

So what's Justin's first year report card look like? What kind of grades has he earned on some of his key campaign promises?

Well, let's start with some high marks. He cancelled family income splitting, cut the middle income tax bracket by a point and a half, rolled back TFSA contribution limits to $5,500 and jacked up the government's take on people earning more than $200k a year to 33 per cent. I'd be inclined to give him an A for those if they hadn't been as easy as finger painting.

But both god and the devil are in the details and if you peer into the details, that big fat A gets knocked down to, say, C-.

Part of that tax reform plan was a pledge it'd be revenue neutral. It is if you're willing to overlook the $1.2 billion shortfall it's left in its wake. Oh well, what's a billion here, a billion there? If that's all there was to it, I'd still give him a high mark, perhaps a B+.

But then there's that pesky promise — one that finished the job Mr. Mulcair began of destroying the NDP's hopes — to run short-term deficits of, don't laugh, less than $10 billion in each of the first two fiscal years. Close but no cigar. How about a deficit of $29.4 billion... with lots more to come? Oh well, what's 30 billion more or less?

That C- is beginning to look like a mercy grade.

The Liberals made Pudge look like the Grinch when they pledged to bring in 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of last year. They missed the mark by a few weeks — what the heck; how much work really gets done over the holidays — but they finally hit it. A solid A, tarnished only slightly by the flow that's become a drip since.

Right out of the start gate, scientists were unmuzzled and the long-form census was reinstated. Both solid achievements after the dark days of the Conservative's know-nothing policies. A+

Feeling better, JT? Good. Because those are the high marks.

One of the things that seemed like it would be easy-peasy was the promise to change the House of Commons Standing Orders and put an end to Pudge's odious practice of using massive and inappropriate omnibus bills to run the old now-you-see-it, now-you-don't smokescreen on legislation. Ending that practice would be a stroke of the pen affair. So far, JT hasn't even taken time out from his quest to break the Guinness record for appearing in the most selfies ever to do anything about it. F.

After the Pierre Poutine robo-call nonsense Justin promised to restore the independence of the Commissioner of Canada Elections and allow the office to freely prosecute electoral violations after Pudge's neuterectomy. Action taken: None. Grade: D, which would have been an F if there were any federal elections on the horizon.

But there will be one in another couple of years. And if memory serves, a key plank in JT's platform was that the last election would be the final one in which the first-past-the-post system would play a starring role. After all, this was a matter of restoring public trust and faith in the political system and making it possible for Elizabeth May to finally have someone to caucus with.

So how's that coming? This year's budget provides up to $10.7 million over four years to, "...conduct outreach, raise awareness and encourage the participation of Canadians in consultations on voting system reform." Oh there's also a Parliamentary committee working to ensure reforms are developed through an open and transparent engagement process.

I'd probably have more faith in that consultant-speak if JT hadn't initially tried to strongarm the process by stacking that Parliamentary committee with Liberals. Walking back from that was a nice, almost human gesture. But I've got a hundred bucks that says the next federal election will operate under the FPTP rules. D+, if only for the glimmer of hope hiding under the pile of BS.

I'm getting old. I've watched both parents and a wife die deaths I'd prefer to not experience myself. Medically-assisted death? Is there such a grade as F-? Or G? The tepid bill put forth by the government doesn't even begin to live up to the standard outlined by the Supreme Court. It'll go down in flames when challenged. F-.

Legalizing marijuana? F. People are still getting busted and earning their scarlet letter for getting high on a substance proven far safer than the alcohol we need to tolerate your sunny ways, JT.

Bill C-51? OMG, you're beginning to look more like Mr. Harper with every passing day. Hey! Look at me and put that phone down, dammit. This was a KEY promise. You haven't even started to work on, let's see, establishing an all-party oversight committee, guaranteeing CSIS warrants respect the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, requiring a review of the act after three years, requiring a warrant to engage in surveillance of Canadians' communications or even defining what the hell terrorist propaganda is, for chrissakes.

Double F.

I said put that phone down. We haven't even touched your broken promise about scrapping the F-35s. Or phasing out subsidies to the fossil-fuel industry. Or your cheesy finesse on investing in infrastructure. Or... oh, screw it. You can only fail so miserably.

I hope.