It’s another federal election campaign! It’s that special season that’s supposed to come around every four years. This time, it’s been less than two (but that’s another story).
You know the season. Lawns don’t get covered with leaves; they get covered in signs. And there is a chill in the air, but we keep warm with the hot air coming out of politician’s mouths.
Yes, it’s that time when politicians make big promises, many that they won’t keep.
Prime Minister Trudeau is an expert at this. He promised electoral reform, a $15 federal minimum wage, and no more drinking water advisories on First Nation reserves.
He backed down on all of them.
Call us jaded, but we can’t help but wonder if we’re in for another round of promises that have a low chance of coming true.
On his recent stop to Vancouver Island, Trudeau chose a senior’s home, Veterans Memorial Lodge, in Saanich to announce $9 billion in funding for long-term care and a $25 minimum wage for personal support workers.
Don’t get me wrong. We totally agree that long-term care needs better funding, and so do long-term care workers.
But the Trudeau team is good at these photo-ops. They knew how to pull on people’s heartstrings. Veteran’s Memorial was the senior home his grandma lived in until she passed away in 2012.
The day before the old folks’ home, Trudeau was at the Vancouver Convention Centre. He pulled out his virtual chequebook (it’s ours, actually) to announce his latest election promise: big investments in forest fire fighting.
“A re-elected Liberal government will invest $500 million ahead of the next fire season for the firefighters and equipment provinces need,” he said at the press conference.
“To begin with, we’ll train at least 1,000 more firefighters in communities across the country who’ll be able to mobilize right away when a major burn starts.”
That’s all well and good, Trudeau. But look around. You’re one fire season too late.
Let’s be honest, Trudeau’s promises have lost their sparkle since his “sunny ways” in 2015. Back then, we were all tired of Harper, and folks liked the thought of a hunky new Prime Minister. Trudeau rode that wave all the way to Ottawa.
But when it comes to keeping promises, his track record is pretty sad. Some of his broken promises have been whoppers.
Trudeau backed down on his promise to phase out government money for Big Oil. Then he spent $14.5 million to buy the TMX pipeline. British Columbians felt betrayed.
Instead of resetting Ottawa’s relationship with First Nations, reconciliation is still a mess.
And all that talk about open and transparent government was more hot air.
If you make a promise to a friend, your friend expects you’ll make good on that promise. That’s what trust is about. And trust is important between friends, and between a politician and the public.
Unfortunately, whipping out our chequebook during election campaigns is so normal in Canada that the public is kind of over it. We deserve much more honesty from our political leaders. We’re grown-ups. We can handle it.
Yeah, most people will welcome the funding promises for senior care and forest fire fighting. After a few bad years of death and destruction, who wouldn’t?
And that fact is not lost on Trudeau. But promises on the campaign trail are easy to make. Making those promises happen takes commitment and integrity.
Does Trudeau have either of those?