Current Leadership Team
- Justin Trudeau - Prime Minister
- Became Liberal leader in 2013 with 80% of the vote.
- Prior to entering politics in 2008 Trudeau served as a substitute drama teacher and snowboard instructor.
- Trudeau first rose to prominence in a charity boxing match between himself and Senator Patrick Brazeau that was spearheaded by Ezra Levant and the then Sun News Network.
- Ralph Goodale - Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness:
- Ralph Goodale has been a politician since 1974, which means he also served in Pierre Trudeau’s caucus.
- He took a bit of break from federal politics returning to Saskatchewan.
- He returned to federal politics in 1993 and served in many portfolios under Prime Minister’s Jean Chretien and Paul Martin.
- When Trudeau appointed his cabinet in 2015, Goodale was seen as a stabilizing force due to his many years of experience.
- Dominic Leblanc - Minister of Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs and Internal Trade
- Dominic Leblanc is Justin Trudeau’s childhood friend.
- He has represented his New Brunswick riding since the year 2000.
- Under Justin Trudeau he has served as Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, Minister of Fisheries, Oceans, and the Canadian Coast guard, and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs, and Internal Trade.
- Bill Morneau - Minister of Finance
- Prior to running for election in 2015, Bill Morneau was the executive chair of Morneau Shepell, a human resources company started by his father.
- The company represents over 20,000 other companies providing pensions employee benefit, and employee assistance programs.
- Bill Morneau has also been investigated by the Ethics Commissioner to determine if there was a conflict of interest with changes that the government made to pension programs.
- We talked about this on episode 42, 40, and 39. Morneau was since cleared by the Ethics Commissioner.
- Chrystia Freeland - Minister of Foreign Affairs
- The minister responsible for the renegotiation of NAFTA.
- But before this she was Minister of International Trade. Her professional history started in the journalism industry started as a freelance reporter for the Financial Times, The Washington Post, and the Economist while working in Ukraine.
- She was also deputy editor of the Globe and Mail from 1999 to 2001
- But perhaps what she will be remembered for most is the Minister who laid down on Justin Trudeau’s floor to take a rest after finishing NAFTA negotiations.
- Marc Garneau - Minister of Transport
- Marc Garneau has one of the most impressive resumés outside of politics.
- He was the first Canadian in space riding on the US Space Shuttle 3 times.
- He was also president of the Canadian Space Agency from 2001 to 2006.
- He first entered politics in the 2008 federal election and ran in the 2013 leadership race, he withdrew from the race and supported Justin Trudeau.
- His sole cabinet position in this government has been as Minister of Transport.
- Two of his big news items from his time as Minister include the airline passenger bill of rights that set guidelines for treatment of passengers by airlines and his response to the ongoing grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
- Jim Carr - Minister of International Trade Diversification
- Jim Carr like Ralph Goodale has a long history of partisan politics. He first ran for the Manitoba legislature in 1986 as a Liberal.
- Like Goodale he also took a break from politics to work for the Winnipeg Free Press and in 1998 he was president and CEO of the Business Council of Manitoba.
- He was first elected for the federal Liberals in 2015 and was Minister of Natural Resources until July 2018 when he was moved to the position of Minister of International Trade Diversification.
- While the lack of pipelines built comes down to an issue of the whole of government, this was Jim Carr’s portfolio, so it makes sense he was moved after the Trans Mountain pipeline was bought.
- Harjit Sajjan - Minister of Defence
- Harjit Sajjan is one of the more distinguished Minister’s in the Trudeau government.
- He emigrated to Canada with his family in 1976 when he was 5 years old.
- He lived in the Vancouver area eventually joining the military. He served numerous tours in Bosnia and Afghanistan and was heavily decorated.
- He took heat from the media when in a public speech he called himself “the architect” of Operation Medusa, a Canadian operation to remove the Taliban from the Kandahar area in 2006. Anyone who knows how the military works will know that offensives are designed by groups of people, not just one.
- Sajjan is one of the more distinguished cabinet ministers and has served as Minister of Defence since 2015.
- Amarjeet Sohi - Minister of Natural Resources
- Amarjeet Sohi was one of Trudeau’s star candidates in 2015.
- He is a former Edmonton City Councillor and before that worked as a bus driver.
- In the Trudeau government he served as Minister of Infrastructure until July 2018.
- In July 2018 he became Minister of Natural Resources in charge of the pipeline file. This change was made to give Alberta cabinet representation.
- Calgary MP Darshan Kang resigned from the party amid sexual harassment allegations.
- Kent Hehr who held the cabinet positions of Minister of Veterans Affairs and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities was removed from cabinet after sexual harassment allegations. And Edmonton Centre MP Randy Boissonnault was already Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Canadian Heritage.
- The Liberals will face a tough fight keeping any of these seats this fall.
- Maryam Monsef - Minister of International Development and Minister for Women and Gender Equality
- Maryam Monsef was initially appointed as Minister for Democratic Institutions and was in charge of the government’s electoral reform push.
- It was ultimately decided that electoral reform would not be feasible as there was no clear consensus on what system to adopt, this was largely due to the process taken by the government and how it was handled by Monsef.
- She was later shuffled to the portfolio of Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Minister for International Development.
- She has also faced controversy by saying she was born in Afghanistan when she was actually born in Iran.
- This if prosecuted, lying on a citizenship application, is grounds for deportation and revocation of citizenship.
- Ahmed Hussen - Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship
- Hussen is a new immigrant to Canada arriving from Somalia in 1994.
- He worked in the Ontario legislature for the Dalton McGuinty government.
- Through 2012 Hussen also served as a member of the Harper government’s Cross Cultural Roundtable on Security that discussed policy issues with the government.
- He was also a lawyer practicing Criminal Law, Immigration and Refugee Law, and Human Rights law in Toronto.
- He was promoted to Immigration Minister after John McCallum departed the post for China.
- Hussen is of course also charged with working with our next Minister to handle the steady flow of asylum seekers coming into Canada.
- Bill Blair - Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction
- Bill Blair served as the police chief in Toronto since 2005 before running for the Liberals.
- He initially served as a backbencher in the government but in July 2018 was appointed Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.
- With tens of thousands of asylum seekers coming into Canada, it is now up to Bill Blair to produce a workable solution.
- David Lametti - Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
- David Lametti was first elected in 2015 for the Liberals.
- Prior to this he was a professor at McGill University. His first role in government was as Parliamentary Secretary to Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland.
- He assumed the role of Justice Minister and Attorney General after Jody Wilson-Raybould was removed from the position over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
- It will be up to David Lametti to decide if SNC-Lavalin is granted a deferred prosecution agreement.
- Trudeau’s former principal secretary, what this effectively means is that he was Trudeau’s advisor for all things.
- Trudeau and Butts have known each other since their university days. Gerald Butts also did work with the former Wynne government in Ontario and the World Wildlife Foundation.
- While at the World Wildlife Foundation he is famously quoted that on the Northern Gateway file, the best approach is an “alternate economy” rather than the energy economy.
- Examining the cabinet, the relationship between Trudeau and Butts, and what has happened since the government took power, it’s no wonder we are where we are at with pipelines.
- Jody Wilson-Raybould has formed much of the discussion around this government over the last 3 months.
- She is a lawyer, former Crown Prosecutor and Regional Chief to the BC Assembly of First Nations.
- It was her actions as Justice Minister and refusal to grant SNC-Lavalin a Deferred Prosecution Agreement that kicked off the events that lead to where the government is today.
- Philpott is a family doctor from Markham-Stouffville where she practiced until 2015 when she ran for the Liberals.
- She was also the an associate professor at the University of Toronto’s Department of Family and Community Medicine.
- In the Trudeau government she served as Health Minister.
- She is the first medical doctor to hold the post.
- She along with Jody Wilson-Raybould were expelled from the Liberal party in April over the SNC-Lavalin scandal.
History of the Liberal Party
- The history of the Liberal Party of Canada, is in a lot of cases related to the history of Conservatism in Canada, being two opposing sides of the same coin of democratic leadership. Indeed, even the name of the Conservative party at Confederation in 1867 was the "Liberal-Conservative" party. At that time, the differences between Liberals and Conservatives amounted to differing degrees of how to accomplish the same task.
- The first few years of the Liberal Party, though they weren't in government for much of the first 30 years after 1867, had a huge influence on Canada's first steps as a sovereign country. The original leaders of the Liberal Party were descendants from the rebellions of 1837. The rebellion leaders included George Brown, Robert Baldwin, William Lyon Mackenzie and the Clear Grits in Upper Canada, Joseph Howe in Nova Scotia, and the Patriotes and Rouges in Lower Canada led by figures such as Louis-Joseph Papineau. The Clear Grits and Parti rouge sometimes functioned as a united bloc in the legislature of the Province of Canada beginning in 1854, and a united Liberal Party combining both English and French Canadian members was formed in 1861. The rebellion of 1837 was fought about political reform, and the advent of responsible government, a key tenet of our democracy to this day, and thus helped to sow the seed of the Liberal Party.
- Responsible government is a conception of a system of government that embodies the principle of parliamentary accountability, the foundation of the Westminster system of parliamentary democracy. Governments (the equivalent of the executive branch) in Westminster democracies are responsible to parliament rather than to the monarch. We may take it for granted these days, but almost 200 years ago, this was a huge deal to fight for, and a big step for Canadians being able to control our own country.
- Much of the Liberal Party's history after confederation was defined by Alexander Mackenzie, who was the de facto leader of the Official Opposition after Confederation and finally agreed to become the first official leader of the Liberal Party in 1873. He was able to lead the party to power for the first time in 1873 and become Canada's second Prime Minister, after the John A MacDonald led Conservative government lost a vote of no confidence in the House of Commons due to the Pacific Scandal, where members of the Conservative government were caught accepting bribes from companies trying to win the contract to build a National Railway out to BC, a key lynchpin of BC joining Canada.
- MacKenzie was a man of humble origins, he was a stonemason, and was afforded a position of power rarely given to those not of the upper class at that time. One of Mackenzie's government's first measures was to introduce secret ballots in an effort to improve the integrity of future elections, another freedom we take for granted these days. Mackenzie, in his dual capacity of Minister of Public Works also oversaw the completion of the Parliament Buildings, and drew up the plans for the West Block himself.
- However Mackenzie's principles, his term was marked by economic depression that had grown out of the Panic of 1873, which Mackenzie's government was unable to alleviate. In 1874, Mackenzie negotiated a new free trade agreement with the United States, eliminating the high protective tariffs on Canadian goods in US markets. However, this action did not bolster the economy, and construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway slowed drastically due to lack of funding. In 1876, the Conservative opposition announced a National Policy of protective tariffs, which resonated with voters. When an election was held at the conclusion of Mackenzie's five-year term, the Conservatives were swept back into office in a landslide victory, and the Liberals would not return to power until 1896.
- In 1896, Wilfrid Laurier was elected as the first French-Canadian Prime Minister, and he won 4 majority governments that lasted over 15 years (and he's also on the $5 bill). The election of 1896 was dominated by the Manitoba Schools question, a political crisis involving publicly funded separate schools for Roman Catholics and Protestants. The crisis eventually spread to the national level, becoming one of the key issues in the federal election of 1896.
- Because of the close linkage at that time between religion and language, the Schools Question raised the deeper question whether French would survive as a language or a culture in Western Canada. The result of the crisis was that by the end of the 19th century, French was no longer supported as an official language in Manitoba or the neighbouring North-West Territories, which in turn led to a strengthening of French Canadian nationalism in Quebec, also resulting from the 1885 execution of Louis Riel.
- Laurier developed a compromise with Thomas Greenway, Premier of Manitoba. They agreed that Catholic education would be permitted in public schools, and French would be used in teaching, but only on a school-by-school basis requiring there to be a minimum of 10 French speaking pupils. They also re-established a Catholic school board, but without government funding. Many Catholics were still opposed to this compromise, and even appealed to Pope Leo XIII. The Pope sent an observer, who concluded, like Laurier, that the compromise was the fairest one possible with so few Catholics left in the province.
- Laurier's terms as Prime Minister were defined by that early compromise between English and French. Laurier is often considered one of the country's greatest statesmen. He is well known for his policies of conciliation, expanding Confederation, and compromise between French and English Canada. His vision for Canada was a land of individual liberty and decentralized federalism. He also argued for an English-French partnership in Canada.
- He once said "I have had before me as a pillar of fire, a policy of true Canadianism, of moderation, of reconciliation." He passionately defended individual liberty, "Canada is free and freedom is its nationality," and "Nothing will prevent me from continuing my task of preserving at all cost our civil liberty." Laurier was also well-regarded for his efforts to establish Canada as an autonomous country within the British Empire, and he supported the continuation of the Empire if it was based on "absolute liberty political and commercial". In addition, he was a strict nationalist, argued for a more competitive Canada through limited government, and was an adherent of fiscal discipline. Laurier oversaw Alberta and Saskatchewan becoming provinces, and he also led to the creation of the Canadian Navy.
- The end of Laurier's tenure as Prime Minister was dominated by relations with the US. In 1911, a controversy arose regarding Laurier's support of trade reciprocity (or free trade) with the United States. This had the strong support of agricultural interests, but it alienated many businessmen who formed a significant part of the Liberals' support base. The Conservatives denounced the deal and played on long-standing fears that reciprocity could eventually lead to the American annexation of Canada.
- Contending with an unruly House of Commons, including vocal disapproval from Liberal MP Clifford Sifton, Laurier called an election to settle the issue of reciprocity. The Conservatives were victorious and Robert Laird Borden succeeded Laurier as Prime Minister.
- Laurier remained in opposition during the First World War. The 1917 was a bitter campaign of conscription, with English Canada largely supporting conscription to help the war effort and Britain, and French Canada vehemently opposing conscription, as they felt that they had no particular loyalty to either Britain or France, and that their only loyalty was to Canada.
- I talked about the Conscription Crisis on the History of the Conservative Party episode, but needless to say, that crisis opened a deep schism between French and English parts of Canada that still show today, over 100 years later.
- The Liberals would remain in opposition until 1921 when William Lyon Mackenzie King won election for the first of 3 lengthy non-consecutive terms in power.
- King was an interesting person of history. He lacked the charisma of such contemporaries as Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, or Charles de Gaulle. He lacked a commanding presence or oratorical skill; his best writing was academic, and did not resonate with the electorate.
- Cold and tactless in human relations, he had many political allies but very few close personal friends. He never married and lacked a hostess whose charm could substitute for his chill. He kept secret his beliefs in spiritualism and use of mediums to stay in contact with departed associates and particularly with his mother, and allowed his intense spirituality and belief in the occult to distort his understanding of Adolf Hitler and other world issues throughout the late 1930s.
- Nevertheless, he was shrewd and intelligent politician, whose tenure in power as Canada's longest serving Prime Minister shows that he knew what Canadians needed and wanted at the time. He reconciled factions, unifying the Liberal Party and leading it to victory in the 1921 election. He personally handled complex relations with the Prairie Provinces, while his top aides handled the demands of French Canadians. During the Second World War, he carefully avoided the battles over conscription, patriotism and ethnicity that had divided Canada so deeply in the First World War, and modernized Canada into a middle power.
- In the period just before and after the Second World War, the party became a champion of 'progressive social policy'. King introduced several measures that led to the creation of Canada's social safety net. He also reluctantly introduced old age pensions when J. S. Woodsworth required it in exchange for his Co-operative Commonwealth Federation party's support of King's minority government.
- King's most trusted minister was Louis St. Laurent, who succeeded King as Prime Minister in 1948, serving until 1957. St. Laurent shared many of the same policies as King, and kept on the same course of turning Canada to a middle power. A staunch nationalist, he was an enthusiastic proponent of Canada's joining NATO in 1949 to fight the spread of Communism, and his image of a popular Prime Minister led him to 2 victories over the Conservatives.
- St. Laurent's tenure could be seen as the first real "media image" in Canada, where he was displayed as having a 'common touch' that turned out to be appealing to voters. At one event during the 1949 election campaign, he disembarked his train and instead of approaching the assembled crowd of adults and reporters, gravitated to, and began chatting with, a group of children on the platform. A reporter submitted an article entitled "'Uncle Louis can't lose!" which earned him the nickname "Uncle Louis" in the media.
- St Laurent's government was engaged in huge Public Works projects, including the Trans Canada Highway, the Trans Canada Pipeline, and the St. Lawrence Seaway. He also oversaw Newfoundland's joining into Canada in 1949. By 1957, even though the Liberals were still popular in Quebec, the Progressive Conservatives won every other region.
- Lester B Pearson would be the next Liberal Prime Minister, in 1963. His term marked plenty of social progress, including the introduction of national universal healthcare, the Canadian Pension Plan, student loans, and a new Canadian Flag. In 1967, he de facto abolished capital punishment in Canada. Pearson's greatest accomplishment was defusing the Suez crisis, and his work with the UN led to the modern definition of peacekeeping, and upholding Canada's positive world reputation.
- Pearson's successor as Prime Minister was Pierre Elliott Trudeau, and depending on who you speak to, is regarded as one of Canada's best or worst Prime Ministers. Trudeau became a media sensation, inspiring "Trudeaumania", and took charge of the Liberals in 1968. From the late 1960s until the mid-1980s, his personality dominated the political scene to an extent never before seen in Canadian political life. His personality and political career aroused polarizing reactions throughout Canada.
- Admirers praise what they consider to be the force of Trudeau's intellect and his political acumen, maintaining national unity over the Quebec sovereignty movement, suppressing a Quebec terrorist crisis, fostering a pan-Canadian identity, and in achieving sweeping institutional reform, including the implementation of official bilingualism, patriation of the Constitution, and the establishment of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- Critics accuse him of arrogance, of economic mismanagement, and of unduly centralizing Canadian decision-making to the detriment of the culture of Quebec and the economy of the Prairies. The last of which led to Western Alienation. Following a rapid increase in the price of oil between 1979 and 1980, the government of Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau introduced the National Energy Program (NEP), which intended to increase Canadian ownership in the oil industry, increase Canada's oil self-sufficiency and redistribute the wealth generated by oil production towards the federal government. The program was extremely unpopular in the west, where most of Canada's oil is produced. It heightened distrust of the federal government, especially in Alberta. Many Albertans believed that the NEP was an unjustified intrusion of the federal government into an area of provincial jurisdiction, designed to strip their province of its natural wealth. By keeping the oil prices below world market prices, the eastern provinces were essentially being subsidized at the expense of the Western provinces.
- Trudeau was succeeded as Liberal leader and Prime Minister by former cabinet minister John Turner, who had been out of politics for almost a decade. Before handing power to Turner, Trudeau advised Governor General Jeanne Sauvé to appoint over 200 Liberals to patronage positions. He and Turner then crafted a legal agreement calling for Turner to advise an additional 70 patronage appointments. The sheer volume of appointments, combined with questions about the appointees' qualifications, led to condemnation from across the political spectrum.
- However, an apparent rebound in the polls prompted Turner to call an election for September 1984, almost a year before it was due. Turner's appointment deal with Trudeau came back to haunt the Liberals at the English-language debate, when Progressive Conservative leader Brian Mulroney demanded that Turner apologize for not advising that the appointments be canceled—advice that Sauvé would have been required to follow by convention. Turner claimed that "I had no option" but to let the appointments stand, prompting Mulroney to tell him, "You had an option, sir--to say 'no'--and you chose to say 'yes' to the old attitudes and the old stories of the Liberal Party." The Liberals never recovered from this. Combined with anger in Quebec at being left out of patriation, the Liberals were heavily defeated at the 1984 election, losing 95 seats in what was then the worst defeat of a sitting government at the federal level.
- The Liberals wouldn't taste power until Jean Chretien in 1993. Chrétien was strongly opposed to the Quebec sovereignty movement and supported official bilingualism and multiculturalism. He won a narrow victory as leader of the federalist camp in the 1995 Quebec referendum, and then pioneered the Clarity Act to avoid ambiguity in future referendum questions. He also advanced the Youth Criminal Justice Act in Parliament. Chretien led Canada to multiple economic surpluses, and reduced spending.
- Although his popularity and that of the Liberal Party were seemingly unchallenged for three consecutive federal elections, he became subject to various political controversies in the later years of his prime-ministership. He was accused of inappropriate behaviour in the Sponsorship scandal, although he has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
- The sponsorship scandal occurred from 1996 until 2004, when broad corruption was discovered in its operations and the program was discontinued. Illicit and even illegal activities within the administration of the program were revealed, involving misuse and misdirection of public funds intended for government advertising in Quebec. Such misdirections included sponsorship money awarded to Liberal Party-linked ad firms in return for little or no work, in which firms maintained Liberal organizers or fundraisers on their payrolls or donated back part of the money to the Liberal Party. The resulting investigations and scandal affected the Liberal Party of Canada and the then-government of Prime Minister Paul Martin, and caused the Liberals to lose grip on power, which they wouldn't regain until the election of Justin Trudeau in 2015 almost 10 years later.
- Gone are the days of centrism to attract both those on the centre right and centre left.
- Paul Martin and Jean Chretien’s era of the Liberal party is gone.
- Fiscally the Liberal party favours tax breaks for the “middle class” which was never really defined while running steep and deep deficits.
- The current Liberal party administration has held corporate taxes steady in the era of cutting corporate taxes in the US.
- If the current trend continues, deficits are forecast to continue until the year 2040.
- The focus for this government has been maintaining debt to gdp ratios rather than aiming for a zero deficit government.
- The downsides of this: not as much room if recession, interest payments, and a structural reliance on debt overall.
- Carbon tax: The government has implemented a carbon tax on provinces that do not have their own carbon tax. The government says that the tax will be rebated back. The revenues are supposed to go back to green initiatives but this hasn’t happened anywhere in Canada that has implemented a carbon tax.
- Pipelines: Bill C-69 (restructuring NEB), Bill C-48 (tanker ban), purchasing TMX, while saying they support THE Trans Mountain Pipeline.
- Social Justice: In the 2015 election the Liberals capitalized from the NDPs voter base. While there is still a difference between the NDP and the Liberals on social policy, the Liberals of 2015 and 2019 are decidedly more progressive than the Liberals of 2005.
- Defence: This government cancelled the F-35 project and elected to purchase use F-18’s from Australia. Questions remain as to how much it will cost Canada to pull out of the multi-country F-35 deal and just how long the F-18’s will remain in service. The F-18 is a late cold war era aircraft, taking its first flight in 1978 and entering service in 1983.
- Borders and Immigration: #WelcomeToCanada. Irregular border crossers as the government calls them. Over 42,000 since January 2017. They have been housed in stadiums and hotels, the RCMP intercept what was a blatant violation of the safe third country agreement (what is this?) The government did hope to address this with the US but as with most things this government has tried to do this year it has been overshadowed. This will be an election issue. The government also wants to increase annual immigration admissions to 350,000 in 2021. Currently we bring in 310,000 immigrants per year. The government says these immigrants will address skills shortages and gaps in the labour market.
- (The Biggest that doesn’t exist) Foreign Policy: China (Meng Wanzhou), India, trade deals, NAFTA, G20, Asian Pacific, UN Security Council.
How to Find Us
Episode Title: The History of the Liberal Party
Teaser: A very special episode where we look at the current leadership team of Trudeau’s Liberals, and we delve into the history of the Liberal Party of Canada’s Prime Ministers, as well as a look to the future of Liberal policy ahead of the 2019 election.
Recorded Date: May 11, 2019
Release Date: May 26, 2019
Edit Notes: None
Podcast Summary Notes
- Current Leadership Team
- History of the Liberal Party
- Current Policies