In keeping with his promise of openness and transparency, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau publicly released the mandate letters to each of his cabinet ministers, outlining the Canadian government’s policy objectives and priorities. Samples of several of the mandate letters are set out below.
The Mandate Letter to the Minister of Foreign Affairs tasks the Honourable Stéphane Dion with the overarching goal of restoring “constructive Canadian leadership in the world and to advance Canada’s interests,” while serving our security and economic interests and contributing to “a more peaceful and prosperous world.” The top priorities are:
- Improve relations with the United States;
- Ensure a close link between defence policy, foreign policy and national security;
- Revitalize Canada’s public diplomacy, stakeholder engagement, and cooperation with partners in Canada and abroad;
- Reenergize Canadian diplomacy and leadership on key international issues and in multilateral institutions;
- Increase Canada’s educational and cultural interaction with the world.
The Mandate Letter to the Minister of International Trade tasks the Honourable Chrystia Freeland with the overarching goal of increasing “Canada’s trade and attract job-creating investment to Canada, focusing on expanding trade with large fast-growing markets, including China and India, and deepening our trade links with traditional partners.” The top priorities are:
- Develop strategies to implement the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and consult on Canada’s potential participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP);
- Implement and expand Canada’s Free Trade Agreements globally, including implementation of agreements with Israel, Chile and Ukraine.
- Promote Canadian agricultural interests during future trade negotiations;
- Develop a new Canadian Trade and Export Strategy to support Canadian businesses exporting to international markets and help Canadian jurisdictions attract foreign direct investment;
- Working with the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development, to engage with provincial, territorial and municipal governments to ensure the government’s strategies are aligned to strengthen the overall Canadian brand and reduce complexity and administrative burden for foreign investors and Canadian companies engaged in international trade;
- Provide support to the relevant ministers to make strategic investments in clean technology and our resource sectors;
- Provide support to the Minister of Canadian Heritage to restore the Trade Routes and PromArt international cultural promotion programs;
- Provide support to the Minister of Foreign Affairs to strengthen Canada’s relationship with its North American partners, advance bilateral and trilateral initiatives to reduce impediments to trade between our countries and to strengthen North America’s global competitiveness.
- Provide support to the relevant ministers in developing a North American clean energy and environment agreement;
- Work with the Ministers of Finance and International Development and La Francophonie on development financing issues.
The Mandate Letter to the Minister of Innovation, Science and Economic Development tasks the Honourable Navdeep Singh Bains with helping “Canadian businesses grow, innovate and export so that they can create good quality jobs and wealth for Canadians.” The top priorities are:
- Restore the long-form census and update legislation governing Statistics Canada to reinforce the institution’s independence;
- Improve the quality of publicly available data in Canada;
- Develop an Innovation Agenda that includes: expanding effective support for incubators, accelerators, the emerging national network for business innovation and cluster support, and the Industrial Research Assistance Program; and working with Regional Development Agencies to make strategic investments that build on competitive regional advantages;
- Support the relevant ministers in making strategic investments in our clean technology sector;
- Support the relevant ministers and institutions in making investments that will make our resource sectors world leaders in the use and development of clean and sustainable technology and processes;
- With the support of the Ministers of Finance and International Trade, develop appropriate investments and strategies for the auto sector to adjust to Canada’s potential participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership;
- Support the Minister of International Trade in the development of programs to support Canadian businesses to increase their exports, expand the range of their trading partners, and adjust to, take advantage of, and prepare for, the implementation of new trade agreements;
- Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in a review of existing measures to protect Canadians and our critical infrastructure from cyber-threats;
- Support the Minister of Science in establishing new Canada Research Chairs in sustainable technologies;
- Increase high-speed broadband coverage and work to support competition, choice and availability of services, and foster a strong investment environment for telecommunications services to keep Canada at the leading edge of the digital economy;
- Work with the relevant ministers to promote economic development and create jobs for Indigenous Peoples;
- Work with the relevant ministers to ensure the identification of industrial benefits for Canadian firms, including in the Naval and Canadian Coast Guard fleet renewal and the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy.
The Mandate Letter to the Minister of Health tasks the Honourable Jane Philpott with the overarching goal of strengthening “our publicly-funded universal health care system and ensure that it adapts to new challenges.” The top priorities are:
- Engage provinces and territories in the development of a new
multi-year Health Accord, which should include a long term funding
agreement and it should
- support the delivery of more and better home care services,
- advance pan-Canadian collaboration on health innovation,
- improve access to necessary prescription medications to include joining with provincial and territorial governments to buy drugs in bulk, reducing the cost Canadian governments pay for these drugs, making them more affordable for Canadians, and exploring the need for a national formulary; and
- make high quality mental health services more available to Canadians who need them;
- Promote public health by: increasing vaccination rates; introducing new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, similar to those now in place in Québec; bringing in tougher regulations to eliminate trans fats and to reduce salt in processed foods, similar to those in the United States; and improving food labels to give more information on added sugars and artificial dyes in processed foods;
- Work with the Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities in increasing funding to the Public Health Agency of Canada to support a national strategy to raise awareness for parents, coaches, and athletes on concussion treatment;
- Introduce plain packaging requirements for tobacco products, similar to those in Australia and the United Kingdom;
- Support the Ministers of Justice and Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness on efforts that will lead to the legalization and regulation of marijuana;
- Work with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to update and expand the Nutrition North program, in consultation with Northern communities.
The Mandate Letters called on each Cabinet Minister to create Cabinet committees to track and regularly report on their progress in carrying out the mandates and call on each Minister to ensure that the government will be open, honest and transparent and will live up to the highest ethical standards.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.