Canada Next: why the feds will have to get along with provinces in the year ahead
During the 2015 federal election campaign, U of T experts provided analysis on a wide array of issues, including the environment, democratic reform, taxation, seniors’ care and how the party leaders performed in debates.
Read more about Election 2015
As Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberal government look ahead to 2016, U of T News asked two of those experts – Professor David Soberman of U of T's Rotman School of Management and Christopher Cochrane, an associate professor of political science – for their views on what should be done next year.
1. Provide some “meat” regarding promised infrastructure projects and an explanation of how the federal government will work with the provinces to put these into place.
2. Explain what our training mission will be in Syria and how it will work. A clear articulation of how Canada’s contribution will be important.
3. Move ahead quickly with the inquiry into missing indigenous women and come up with an action plan to address the problem.
4. Provide clear forecasts through a budget regarding the fiscal state of the government and the plan to eliminate deficits over time.
5. Provide clear information on proposed changes to the Canada Pension Plan (while Ontario backs away from creating its own plan).
6. Provide clear indications of where we are going on internal security and the threat of terrorism. Bill C-51 was passed but Canadians need to understand how positions of the previous government will be modified.
7. Senate reform is a huge issue. There have been some discussions about what can be done, but to really get this problem addressed, the government has to have the courage to think about constitutional changes.
8. Implementation of the Paris Agreement and how the new approach to the environment will affect Canadians every day.
9. An indication of trade policy positions and in particular the TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and what the future holds.
10. Continual updates on how Syrian refugees are faring and allowing Canadians to have confidence in that we are doing our best to help these people integrate and become productive members of our society.
“Canada is a federation. The wrecks of grand federal plans are strewn along the shores of provincial jurisdiction. All but a few of the items on the Trudeau government’s agenda will require the support of provincial governments.
“The federal government will need the support of the provinces in order to settle and integrate Syrian refugees; curb carbon emissions; invest in infrastructure; reform the Senate; enhance the Canada pension plan; adjust tax rates; enhance childcare and facilitate economic growth. This is well known to the prime minister.
“The only question is whether the government can move quickly enough to set the entirety of its agenda in motion during the window of opportunity afforded by the current `best-case scenario’ for federal-provincial relations.
“For nearly the entirely of the government’s first term, nearly all of the provincial governments – including in Ontario, Quebec, and Alberta – will be ideologically in synch with the Liberal agenda. This is a rare state of affairs in Canadian politics.
“My prediction for 2016 is that the Liberal government will take every advantage of this rare opportunity by integrating the provinces very directly into federal decision-making processes. This will make it much easier when it comes to the implementation stage of the long list of items on the Liberal agenda that require the co-operation of the provinces.”