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Canadian Politics

A21(b) - Assessing the Policy Performance of Justin Trudeau’s Liberal Government: Retrospective, Prospective or Gyroscopic Mandate Assessments - Panel 4

Date: Jun 6 | Time: 03:15pm to 04:45pm | Location: SWING 109

Chair/Président/Présidente : Lisa Birch (Université Laval)

Session Abstract: Democratic mandate theory has many variants models of representation varying from promissory, to anticipatory to gyroscopic or surrogate representation (Mansbridge, 2003). These theoretical models of representation have different implications for governing party behavior and for the ways in which citizens hold them accountable and make voting decisions. They also have different implications for how political parties construct their campaign platforms. The Trudeau government’s decision to hire Michael Barber, to implement his "deliverology" model and to create the Mandate Letter Tracker suggests that the Trudeau government may prioritize promissory representation. Yet, over the course of a four-year period, unanticipated events forced issues onto the government’s agenda and led to decisions. The Trudeau polimeter tracks the 353 promises identified in the platform. As of early September 2018, 42% of promises are rated as kept, 39% as kept in part or in the works, 4 % as broken and 15% are not yet rated. However, in an era of permanent campaigns, political marketing, and new political governance, one may well question the very nature of election promises. Some promises may target specific market segments and others may be more or less salient to citizens. Which model of representation best accounts for the actions of the Trudeau government since it came to power in October 2015? What role, if any, did deliverology play? Does it matter which promises are kept and which promises are broken? We propose 4 panels, linked to a collective book to be published in both official languages.

The Trudeau Government’s Legislative Agenda: Between promises and a mandate for change: Lisa Birch (Université Laval), Steve Jacob (Université Laval)
Abstract: The fact that Justin Trudeau's government has kept most of its campaign promises appears to support the traditional model of democratic accountability known as “promissory representation,” whereby citizens vote based on what the parties promise they will do if elected and then hold the government accountable to keeping its election promises. However, since many important decisions by the Trudeau government have not been announced by election promises, we cannot talk exclusively about “promissory representation”. We are more in a situation of “anticipatory representation” whereby citizens hold government accountable by assessing the quality of representation and deliberation in policymaking during a term of office.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion : Between Real Change and Branding?: Karen Bird (McMaster University)
Abstract: This paper assesses the policy performance of the Trudeau government on gender equality, diversity and inclusion. It finds a remarkable record of both promise fulfilment and action that transcends the party’s campaign platform. Some of this is the result of external events and forces that could not have been predicted during the 2015 campaign. But it also appears that the diverse composition of Trudeau’s cabinet had substantive impact on the expansion of this legislative agenda.

Indigenous Reconciliation: Thierry Rodon (Université Laval), Martin Papillon (Université de Montréal)
Abstract: This chapter examines to what extent the Trudeau government has delivered on its campaign promises to improve the fate of Indigenous communities and to further Indigenous Reconciliation. It also examines the extent to which the Liberal government has implemented the Calls to Action of The Truth and Reconsiliation Commission that fall under federal jurisdiction.