OTTAWA — Opposition critics say a new federal website designed to track 364 government commitments is a “propaganda tool” that risks misleading Canadians about the Liberals’ actual accomplishments.
Tuesday, the Privy Council Office — the department that supports Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office — announced the launch of canada.ca/results, a portal designed to showcase the status of tasks Trudeau gave cabinet ministers in their mandate letters.
The goal is to be “open and transparent,” a senior bureaucrat said.
But NDP and Conservative critics suggest people should take its findings with a grain of salt.
The new tool allows the public, journalists, and stakeholders to track whether specific pledges have been met, are on the way to being met, are underway but experiencing some challenges, or have been completely abandoned.
“There is some stuff in here that already raises some red flags,” said NDP Treasury Board critic Daniel Blaikie.
The Liberals’ pledge to balance the budget by 2019-2020, for example, is listed on the government website as “underway – with challenges.” None of the Finance department’s projects show a balanced budget for the next several years. Spending commitments the Liberals made suggest the budget won’t be balanced for several decades, and Finance Minister Bill Morneau refused last week to give a date for returning the books back to black.
Watch: Conservative MP asks Trudeau if he’ll balance budget ‘when hell freezes over’
The government justifies the website’s categorization for the balanced budget pledge by saying it plans to “balance the budget over the long-term and continue to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio.”
The decision of how to categorise a specific promise ultimately rests with the Prime Minister’s Office not the public servants, the senior bureaucrat, speaking during a background briefing, confirmed.
The Liberals, for example, list as “completed — fully met” a commitment to “work with Parliamentarians to reform question period so that all ministers, including the Prime Minister, are held to greater account.”
While Trudeau took it upon himself to answer all MPs’ questions on Wednesdays, it may be difficult to conclude when watching the daily exchanges that the prime minister and his cabinet are being held to greater account than former prime minister Stephen Harper and his cabinet.
“There are no answers being given,” said Conservative health critic Marilyn Gladu. “We’ve seen blatant lies, especially with respect to the ethics commissioner… Based on what they have been doing, I think this [website] will be spin-doctoring.”
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Source:: The Huffington Post – Canada Travel