After ten years of Stephen Harper, Ottawa is broken. When he was first elected, he promised us principled government. He promised us accountability and honesty.
But year after year, Stephen Harper has delivered partisanship and petty politics, broken his promise and appointed 57 senators, wasted over $750 million on partisan government ads, and grown more intolerant of dissent and closed-off from Canadians.
This is unacceptable. So this week, I presented a comprehensive plan to fix this -- a plan for real change.
Our Liberal plan will restore openness and accountability by modernizing the way our government works.
Our plan builds on measures we have already implemented -- but also moves far beyond them. Liberals led the way two years ago by disclosing our expenses online. Since then, all other parties have followed our lead. Last year, as a tangible step to end partisanship and patronage in the Senate, I removed Senators from the Liberal Caucus. These actions are a down-payment on the values I will bring to the office of Prime Minister.
Our plan is a sweeping agenda for change, at the heart of which is a simple idea: open government is good government.
First, we will make transparency a fundamental pillar of our government. We will reduce fees for Access to Information requests and extend them to cover all Ministers' offices -- including the Prime Minister's office. We will ensure that all government data is open by default and that Canadians have easy access to their own personal information.
Second, we will make sure Canadians have a strong voice in Ottawa. We will strengthen the role of Members of Parliament, introduce more free votes, and reform Question Period to make it relevant. Moreover, we will reform the Senate; instead of cynically promising to do the impossible, or picking a fight with the provinces over the Constitution, we will end partisanship in the Senate and continue the real change our party started two years ago.
Third, we are committed to open and fair elections. We will ensure that the 2015 election is the last federal election to use the first-past-the-post voting system. We will consult with Canadians on reform measures - such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting, and online voting -- and within 18 months of forming a government, we will bring forward legislation to enact electoral reform. We will also ban wasteful partisan advertising, toughen penalties for election fraud, and close loopholes in political finance laws.
Fourth, we will ensure that evidence-based decision-making is a guiding principle of our government, by using data, not partisan ideology, to inform public policy. We will make Statistics Canada fully independent and restore the mandatory long-form census. A Liberal government will let science -- and scientists - speak, even when the truth is inconvenient.
Finally, we will introduce better service for Canadians. Our plan will transform the relationship Canadians have with their government: it will ensure gender parity in all government appointments, including the federal cabinet; it will overhaul the CRA to make it more user-friendly; and it will open our democracy to Canadians by allowing all of us to participate online in public policy development.
Today, if you are a veteran looking for benefits; if you are laid off and need help; if you need more information to file your taxes; or if you just want your mail delivered to your door -- this government is not interested in helping you.
That needs to change.
What Liberals have announced are important steps to a more open and transparent democracy. Taken together, our plan for real change will shed new light on government and ensure that it is focused on the people it is meant to serve: Canadians.
Justin Trudeau, M.P.
Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada
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