A positive direction in Canada

Posted December 3, 2015 from Canada

I'm feeling positive about the letter Canada's new Prime Minister sent to the new Minister of Status of Women. I have pasted it below (you can read the original at: http://pm.gc.ca/eng/minister-status-women-mandate-letter#sthash.lo8WsVTB...). I'm cautiously optimistic about these promises.

Dear Ms. Hajdu:

I am honoured that you have agreed to serve Canadians as Minister of Status of Women. You are part of a strong team of ministers led by the Minister of Canadian Heritage.

We have promised Canadians a government that will bring real change – in both what we do and how we do it. Canadians sent a clear message in this election, and our platform offered a new, ambitious plan for a strong and growing middle class. Canadians expect us to fulfill our commitments, and it is my expectation that you will do your part in delivering on those promises to Canadians.

We made a commitment to invest in growing our economy, strengthening the middle class, and helping those working hard to join it. We committed to provide more direct help to those who need it by giving less to those who do not. We committed to public investment as the best way to spur economic growth, job creation, and broad-based prosperity. We committed to a responsible, transparent fiscal plan for challenging economic times.

I expect Canadians to hold us accountable for delivering these commitments, and I expect all ministers to do their part – individually and collectively – to improve economic opportunity and security for Canadians.

It is my expectation that we will deliver real results and professional government to Canadians. To ensure that we have a strong focus on results, I will expect Cabinet committees and individual ministers to: track and report on the progress of our commitments; assess the effectiveness of our work; and align our resources with priorities, in order to get the results we want and Canadians deserve.

If we are to tackle the real challenges we face as a country – from a struggling middle class to the threat of climate change – Canadians need to have faith in their government’s honesty and willingness to listen. I expect that our work will be informed by performance measurement, evidence, and feedback from Canadians. We will direct our resources to those initiatives that are having the greatest, positive impact on the lives of Canadians, and that will allow us to meet our commitments to them. I expect you to report regularly on your progress toward fulfilling our commitments and to help develop effective measures that assess the impact of the organizations for which you are answerable.

I made a personal commitment to bring new leadership and a new tone to Ottawa. We made a commitment to Canadians to pursue our goals with a renewed sense of collaboration. Improved partnerships with provincial, territorial, and municipal governments are essential to deliver the real, positive change that we promised Canadians. No relationship is more important to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. It is time for a renewed, nation-to-nation relationship with Indigenous Peoples, based on recognition of rights, respect, co-operation, and partnership.

We have also committed to set a higher bar for openness and transparency in government. It is time to shine more light on government to ensure it remains focused on the people it serves. Government and its information should be open by default. If we want Canadians to trust their government, we need a government that trusts Canadians. It is important that we acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect – they expect us to be honest, open, and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.

Our platform guides our government. Over the course of our four-year mandate, I expect us to deliver on all of our commitments. It is our collective responsibility to ensure that we fulfill our promises, while living within our fiscal plan. Other issues will arise or will be brought to our attention by Canadians, stakeholders, and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to your agenda when appropriate.

As Minister, you will be held accountable for our commitment to bring a different style of leadership to government. This will include: close collaboration with your colleagues; meaningful engagement with Opposition Members of Parliament, Parliamentary Committees and the public service; constructive dialogue with Canadians, civil society, and stakeholders, including business, organized labour, the broader public sector, and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors; and identifying ways to find solutions and avoid escalating conflicts unnecessarily. As well, members of the Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, are professionals who, by asking necessary questions, contribute in an important way to the democratic process. Your professionalism and engagement with them is essential.

Canadians expect us, in our work, to reflect the values we all embrace: inclusion, honesty, hard work, fiscal prudence, and generosity of spirit. We will be a government that governs for all Canadians, and I expect you, in your work, to bring Canadians together.

You are expected to do your part to fulfill our government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure gender parity and that Indigenous Canadians and minority groups are better reflected in positions of leadership.

As Minister of Status of Women, your overarching goal will be to ensure government policy, legislation, and regulations are sensitive to the different impacts that decisions can have on men and women. During our time in government, I expect to make meaningful progress on reducing the wage gap between men and women and to encourage an increase in the number of women in senior decision-making positions and on boards in Canada, as well as make progress towards better representation of women where they have traditionally been under-represented, such as in the skilled trades.

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory, and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

Work with experts and advocates to develop and implement a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan, aligned with existing provincial strategies. You will be supported by the Minister of Justice to make any necessary criminal code changes and by the President of the Treasury Board who will develop strategies to combat sexual harassment in federal public institutions. Work with the Privy Council Office to ensure that a gender-based analysis is applied to proposals before they arrive at Cabinet for decision-making. Support the Privy Council Office as it develops monitoring and reporting processes to ensure that the government’s senior appointments are merit-based and demonstrate gender parity. Support the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs in ensuring that no one fleeing domestic violence is left without a place to turn by growing and maintaining Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses. Support the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness in reviewing current gender- and culturally-sensitive training policies for federal front-line law enforcement officers to ensure that they are strong and effective. Support the Minister of Employment, Workplace Development and Labour and work with your ministerial colleagues in taking action to ensure that Parliament and federal institutions are workplaces free from harassment and sexual violence. Support the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to develop a process and mandate for an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls in Canada. These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. The government’s agenda will be further articulated through Cabinet discussions and in the Speech from the Throne when Parliament opens.

I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and his or her senior officials to ensure that the ongoing work of your department is undertaken in a professional manner and that decisions are made in the public interest. Your Deputy Minister will brief you on issues your department may be facing that may require decisions to be made quickly. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions, so that issues facing your department are dealt with in a timely and responsible manner, and in a way that is consistent with the overall direction of our government.

Our ability, as a government, to successfully implement our platform depends on our ability to thoughtfully consider the professional, non-partisan advice of public servants. Each and every time a government employee comes to work, they do so in service to Canada, with a goal of improving our country and the lives of all Canadians. I expect you to establish a collaborative working relationship with your Deputy Minister, whose role, and the role of public servants under his or her direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.

In the coming weeks, the Privy Council Office (PCO) will be contacting you to set up a meeting with PCO officials, your Deputy Minister and the Prime Minister’s Office to further discuss your plans, commitments and priorities.

We have committed to an open, honest government that is accountable to Canadians, lives up to the highest ethical standards, and applies the utmost care and prudence in the handling of public funds. I expect you to embody these values in your work and observe the highest ethical standards in everything you do. When dealing with our Cabinet colleagues, Parliament, stakeholders, or the public, it is important that your behaviour and decisions meet Canadians’ well-founded expectations of our government. I want Canadians to look on their own government with pride and trust.

As Minister, you must ensure that you are aware of and fully compliant with the Conflict of Interest Act and Treasury Board policies and guidelines. You will be provided with a copy of Open and Accountable Government to assist you as you undertake your responsibilities. I ask that you carefully read it and ensure that your staff does so as well. I draw your attention in particular to the Ethical Guidelines set out in Annex A of that document, which apply to you and your staff. As noted in the Guidelines, you must uphold the highest standards of honesty and impartiality, and both the performance of your official duties and the arrangement of your private affairs should bear the closest public scrutiny. This is an obligation that is not fully discharged by simply acting within the law. Please also review the areas of Open and Accountable Government that we have expanded or strengthened, including the guidance on non-partisan use of departmental communications resources and the new code of conduct for exempt staff.

I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. In turn, please know that you can count on me to support you every day in your role as Minister.

I am deeply grateful to have this opportunity to serve with you as we build an even greater country. Together, we will work tirelessly to honour the trust Canadians have given us.

Yours sincerely,

Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P. Prime Minister of Canada

Comments 6

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Dec 09, 2015
Dec 09, 2015


This was an interesting letter to read, especially since I am not Canadian. The Prime Minister has a lot of strong goals, and expects his staff to carry them out. I would like to know more of your thoughts on the letter. You mention being cautiously optomistic, but I would like to know what change are you most looking forward to? No matter what a persons political beliefs are, I believe that they are responsible for holding their government responsible for the promises made.



Dec 09, 2015
Dec 09, 2015

Hi Samantha, thanks for adding your thoughts. I am "cautiously optimistic" because this is a new government and the Prime Minister has promised A LOT in the last coupe of weeks, in all areas of his governance. He will inevitably disappoint many people, but I am hoping he can follow through with as many promises as possible.

The fact that he publicly publishes letters like this to his Ministers is in stark contrast to our last government, who kept as much as possible secret. I am especially interested in his promises towards renewing relationships with Aboriginal Canadians and the very long paragraph outlining gender and domestic violence, gender- and culturally-sensitive training policies for federal front-line law enforcement officers, an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, and a cooperative approach to leadership.

Carolyn Seaman
Dec 11, 2015
Dec 11, 2015

Dear Lori,

Thank you for sharing this letter. Your Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has made headlines recently and I was particularly drawn to his commendable record naming women to half posts in his cabinet. 

I agree with you that he has made SO MANY PROMISES, and very publicly for that matter. And a part of me really hopes that he is able to successfully fulfil those promises along with the very inclusive team he has built around his government.

I also hope that Canadians, and the world as a whole, are able to provide him the benefit of the doubt and the cooperation he needs to achieve all he has set out to. I will look out for updates on his achievements and I hope that they are a positive example for other nations of the world.

Once again, thank you for sharing this.

Warm regards,

Dec 11, 2015
Dec 11, 2015

Carolyn, you make a very important point: While Trudeau has made many promises, they are not his alone to carry out. He needs the support of the other people we have elected, as well as ordinary citizens in order to fulfill these goals. Cooperation is the key word and I do hope that we can ALL come together to make change. I think Canada has the potential to be a positive influence in the world – now it's our turn to make that happen. Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

Julia O
Dec 14, 2015
Dec 14, 2015

Hi Lori, thanks very much for posting this letter. I actually hadn't read it so it was a great opportunity to do so. I like your phrasing of "cautiously optimistic" about our new Prime Minister and I share your feeling. Just reading the letter, especially the part about how journalists are professionals and ask necessary questions, hit home how different Trudeau is than Harper and how he actually values dialogue and constructive criticism. It will be really interesting to see how Trudeau and his government deliver on the campaign promises in the months and years ahead. While I think it's safe to say that Trudeau definitely values gender equality more than Harper did, it remains to be seen how much real progress can or will be achieved. Thanks a lot for posting this. Best wishes, Julia

Dec 14, 2015
Dec 14, 2015

Yes, Trudeau certainly seems to value gender equality more than Harper and the "splash" he is making on so many issues is encouraging. I look forward to seeing how he progresses to get things done. There's no harm in being cautiously optimistic! ;-)