With each passing day, Justin Trudeau faces new questions about his commitment to “real change.” Any mention of the former Tory PM still makes people react with an involuntary shudder, as if Darth Vader was entering the room. But it does look like the honeymoon may be coming to an end for his replacement.
The Liberals are a big business party, but they came to power by promising to address demands raised by the labour and people s movements: repeal anti-immigrant legislation; reform the first-past-the-post electoral system; legalize marijuana (and stop criminalizing users); halt Canadian participation in the bombing of Syria and Iraq; massive infrastructure funding; raise taxes on the 1%; put a temporary hold on ending urban door to door Canada Post delivery; appoint women to half of federal Cabinet posts; a public inquiry into the missing and murdered aboriginal women; implement all recommendations of the Truth & Reconciliation Commission; restore the long-form census; allow federal scientists to speak publicly; tackle climate change, etc.
Half a year later, a few of these promises have been kept, at least partially. But most are being kicked down the road, underfunded to death, or ignored. The 2016-17 federal budget deficit was too limited to create large numbers of good jobs. The TPP corporate rights deal is being pushed rapidly towards Parliamentary ratification, despite wide objections. Reconciliation with indigenous peoples hit the ditch after the government’s failure to take serious action on housing, clean drinking water and better education. And not least, the Liberals appear eager to promote oil pipelines demanded by Big Energy.
As we said after the election, the defeat of the Tories was a big victory for working people. But without stronger pressure from the labour and democratic movements, the Liberals will inevitably bend to the agenda of the corporations.