Trudeau’s Approval Rating Enters “Middle Marriage” Phase

Jimmy Wang - 2A Mechanical
Posted on: January 28, 2018

A survey released by Nanos Research on Monday, January 15 has shown a drop in support for Trudeau’s Liberal government. The poll revealed that 39% of Canadians rated the federal government’s performance as either “poor” or “very poor”, and that 37% of Canadians reported a “very good” or “somewhat good” performance. It was only November 2015 when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was sworn into the highest office in Canada, entering office with an approval rating of 60%. The landslide of optimism and enthusiasm displayed by the Canadian public for the new PM has not been seen in many years, but two years and two months later, that optimism and enthusiasm seems to have faded away, with the Trudeau government’s approval rating falling back to the Conservative government’s approval rating back in 2014, a year before they lost the last election.

How did Canada’s overly positive view of the young and charismatic Justin Trudeau slide back to the status quo so quickly? Let’s review the Liberal party’s policy during the 2015 election and how Trudeau’s government has delivered. The Liberals campaigned on a platform of:
● Reducing the retirement age back to 65
● Marijuana legalisation
● Reopening VA offices
● Reforming child benefits
● Electoral reform
● Investing in the healthcare system to lower cost of prescription drugs
● Reducing taxes on small businesses
● Favouring the idea of a carbon tax
● Encouraging a non-partisan senate
● Admitting more Syrian refugees
● Ending airstrikes on Syria
● Running three fiscal deficits to fund infrastructure programs
● Funding for housing projects
● Support an inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women
● The establishment of a youth advisory council
● Funding the establishment of more youth jobs
● Amend bill C-51

With the next federal election set for October of 2019, how well has the Liberal government returned on their campaign promises? Here is a list of accomplishments and the statuses of their promises:
● Moved the retirement age from 67 to 65 (March 2016)
● Recreational marijuana is set to be legalized (July 2018)
● 9 Veteran Affairs offices reopened out of 116 locations currently active (December 2017)
● Child benefits reform set to take action soon (July 2018)
● Electoral reform ambitions abandoned (February 2017)
● OHIP+ enacted (January 2018)
● Following previous conservative party’s small business tax plan from 2015 (October 2017)
● No federal carbon tax plan enacted but provincial carbon taxes are enacted in QC, AB, and BC (January 2018)
● Revamped senate-appointment system enacted (April 2016)
● Ended Canadian airstrikes in Syria (February 2016)
● Accepted 40,000 Syrian refugees into the country (January 2016)
● 120 billion dollars invested into infrastructure programs (March 2016)
● Announced housing funding plan schedule to come into effect after 2019 (November 2017)
● Initiated inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (December 2015)
● Youth Advisory Council established (July 2016)
● Amended Bill C-51 being discussed in Parliament (January 2018)

As you can see the Liberal government hasn’t been completely stagnant, yet the most common complaint of Trudeau’s government is the sense of inaction. Perhaps it is the immediate impact fullness of the actions the government has taken. Legislation like reworking the senate appointment system don’t exactly grab news headlines or people’s attentions. The average Canadian doesn’t worry about funding for infrastructure programs everyday. In my opinion, the average Canadian doesn’t worry. We are not in the mists of a war or recession. There is currently no major issue Canadians are discussing for a prolonged period of time for the government to take immediate action. Simply put, this country is not in crisis and, when a country is not in crisis, minor actions made by the government aren’t seen as significant. I believe that the true reason Trudeau’s popularity has fallen wasn’t because of the policies he advocated; it was the feeling of change and the new he instilled in Canadians. Here was a party led by this young and progressive politician replacing the decade old conservative government. People expected change and they got that shortly after the election (gender balanced and multicultural cabinet, and encouraging Syrian refugees, for example), but there just wasn’t and hasn’t been enough big ticket issues to go around till now.
I find today there’s a strong sense of the establishment party being in power and that sense is founded in reason. Justin Trudeau is the son of Pierre Trudeau. With him coming to power, it marks the first political dynasty in Canadian history. The Liberal party is the oldest party in Canada and is centre-left on the political spectrum. But the question I want to you to ask is: “is establishment politics really that bad?”. With the 2016 US election still relevant in our collective memories, establishment politics was painted in a negative light by popular candidates Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. Even Trudeau campaigned on a platform of change and reform. However, with our current “establishment” government, there is no major crisis and most Canadians are living fairly good lives. Looking south of the border at what is apparently a non-establishment government led by a “Washington outsider”, perhaps we should be thankful with the stability Trudeau’s government provides.

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