The annual CFPJ Report Card has been prepared by faculty and graduate students at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs in partnership with iAffairs Canada. At the halfway mark in its term, the Trudeau government gets an overall grade of B-, improving in some areas while underperforming in others. The government’s actions and rhetoric have been inconsistent, at times contradictory and mostly focused on messaging and advancing the Liberal brand rather than fixing real problems.
On peacekeeping and defence procurement – for example – openness, transparency and accountability are nowhere to be seen. The government took over two years to announce an open and fair competition to replace its CF-18s. The Liberals also kept Canadians in the dark for over a year after announcing its peacekeeping plan, only to scale back on this commitment substantially.
While airstrikes in Iraq and Syria have ceased, the government has been criticized for continuing to put special forces in the line of fire. The missions in Latvia and Ukraine, have been criticized as unnecessarily provoking Moscow.
On protecting the security of Canadians, the government is committed to what is perhaps the largest reorganization of the Canadian security and intelligence community since 1984. It remains to be seen what effects these changes will have on facing the dual challenges of cybersecurity and terrorism.
On trade, the government has handled the NAFTA renegotiation well, assembling a strong team of negotiators with bipartisan support. Their full-court press strategy of pitching the deal to state governments, individual members of Congress and industry leaders may bear favourable results in the face of an unpredictable American administration despite the friction produced by tariffs on steel and aluminum.
In other areas, such as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) debacle, the government has made a number of unforced errors and its “progressive trade agenda” has proven to be more rhetoric than reality.