OTTAWA — Justin Trudeau, fresh from confidently guiding his Liberal party to a convincing election win, delivered a message Tuesday to those around the world who may have felt Canada lost its way during a decade of Conservative rule.
“Many of you have worried that Canada has lost its compassionate and constructive voice in the world over the past 10 years,” Trudeau told a boisterous rally in Ottawa.
“Well, I have a simple message for you. On behalf of 35 million Canadians, we’re back.”
Trudeau used his triumphant return to the nation’s capital to assure civil servants that he will run “a government that listens to, works with and respects the public service.”
And he used the occasion to thank staff in party headquarters and the 80,000 volunteers whom he credited with making nearly 12 million phone calls and door knocks over the course of the longest campaign in modern Canadian history. But as gruelling as the campaign was, he acknowledged the hard part starts now.
“This afternoon we can celebrate, but our hard work is only beginning.”
Both at home and abroad, Trudeau faces several pressing priorities and a raft of longer-term promises.
The immediate issues for the prime minister-designate include a major international conference on climate change, a military mission in the Middle East he has pledged to end and the still-churning refugee crisis enveloping Europe.
On the horizon domestically loom key promises from his party’s successful campaign: lower taxes for the middle class, the legalization of marijuana, and a slate of democratic reforms including a new electoral system to replace the venerable first-past-the-post regime under which he won a majority of the seats with just under 40 per cent of the vote.
He will also have to move quickly to institute the reforms he’s promised to the disgraced Senate, where the Conservatives still hold sway and could prove a roadblock to Liberal legislation. Tory dominance of the chamber could be instantly diluted by filling the 22 vacancies left by outgoing prime minister Stephen Harper.
Trudeau has kicked senators out of the Liberal caucus and has vowed to create a blue chip advisory body to recommend non-partisan Senate nominees in future, a move designed to return the institution to its intended role as an independent chamber of sober second thought.
Governments plan to gather in Paris in December for a global summit on climate change. That leaves the Liberals just weeks to come up with a national position based on the party’s promise to join with the provinces and territories to act on climate change, put a price on carbon and reduce carbon pollution.
The Liberals have also committed to ending Canada’s combat mission in Iraq against rampaging radical militants — instead focusing on the training of local forces, while providing more humanitarian support and immediately welcoming 25,000 more refugees from Syria.
Trudeau has said the first piece of legislation his government would put forward is one to lower taxes for the middle class and raise taxes for the wealthiest Canadians.
A Liberal government is also committed to revamping the recently enacted omnibus security bill, known as C-51, that gave Canada’s spy agency substantial new powers and angered civil libertarians.
Trudeau has also promised the largest new infrastructure investment in Canadian history. The plan would nearly double federal spending on public transit, affordable housing, recreational facilities and other items to almost $125 billion over the next decade.
Trudeau, 43, completes the first father-son dynasty in Canada’s federal government history, as the first-born of Pierre Elliott Trudeau follows in his father’s footsteps to 24 Sussex Drive.
He faced more than two years of Conservative attack ads before defeating Harper, including a barrage of “just not ready” ads so ubiquitous that school-age children could recite them.