Dear Ms. Freeland:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs.
On Election Day, Canadians chose to continue moving forward. From coast to coast to coast, people chose to invest in their families and communities, create good middle class jobs and fight climate change while keeping our economy strong and growing. Canadians sent the message that they want us to work together to make progress on the issues that matter most, from making their lives more affordable and strengthening the healthcare system, to protecting the environment, keeping our communities safe and moving forward on reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. People expect Parliamentarians to work together to deliver these results, and that’s exactly what this team will do.
It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country. The Government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.
That starts with a commitment to govern in a positive, open and collaborative way. Our platform, Forward: A Real Plan for the Middle Class, is the starting point for our Government. I expect us to work with Parliament to deliver on our commitments. Other issues and ideas will arise or will come from Canadians, Parliament, stakeholders and the public service. It is my expectation that you will engage constructively and thoughtfully and add priorities to the Government’s agenda when appropriate. Where legislation is required, you will need to work with the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and the Cabinet Committee on Operations to prioritize within the minority Parliament.
We will continue to deliver real results and effective government to Canadians. This includes: tracking and publicly reporting on the progress of our commitments; assessing the effectiveness of our work; aligning our resources with priorities; and adapting to events as they unfold, in order to get the results Canadians rightly demand of us.
Many of our most important commitments require partnership with provincial, territorial and municipal governments and Indigenous partners, communities and governments. Even where disagreements may occur, we will remember that our mandate comes from citizens who are served by all orders of government and it is in everyone’s interest that we work together to find common ground. As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, you are the Government-wide lead on all relations with the provinces and territories.
There remains no more important relationship to me and to Canada than the one with Indigenous Peoples. We made significant progress in our last mandate on supporting self-determination, improving service delivery and advancing reconciliation. I am directing every single Minister to determine what they can do in their specific portfolio to accelerate and build on the progress we have made with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples.
I also expect us to continue to raise the bar on openness, effectiveness and transparency in government. This means a government that is open by default. It means better digital capacity and services for Canadians. It means a strong and resilient public service. It also means humility and continuing to acknowledge mistakes when we make them. Canadians do not expect us to be perfect; they expect us to be diligent, honest, open and sincere in our efforts to serve the public interest.
As Minister, you are accountable for your style of leadership and your ability to work constructively in Parliament. I expect that you will collaborate closely with your Cabinet and Caucus colleagues. You will also meaningfully engage with the Government Caucus and Opposition Members of Parliament, the increasingly non-partisan Senate, and Parliamentary Committees.
It is also your responsibility to substantively engage with Canadians, civil society and stakeholders, including businesses of all sizes, organized labour, the broader public sector and the not-for-profit and charitable sectors. You must be proactive in ensuring that a broad array of voices provides you with advice, in both official languages, from every region of the country.
We are committed to evidence-based decision-making that takes into consideration the impacts of policies on all Canadians and fully defends the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. You will apply Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+) in the decisions that you make.
Canada’s media and your engagement with them in a professional and timely manner are essential. The Parliamentary Press Gallery, indeed all journalists in Canada and abroad, ask necessary questions and contribute in an important way to the democratic process.
You will do your part to continue our Government’s commitment to transparent, merit-based appointments, to help ensure that people of all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and minority groups are reflected in positions of leadership.
As Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, you will work closely with me to strengthen the Canadian federation and lead work to implement national commitments and priorities that depend on strong relationships with other orders of government. These include strengthening the middle class, moving forward on climate action, making our communities safer and ensuring our health care system is there for those who need it.
I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities. In particular, you will:
- As Deputy Prime Minister, work very closely with me in both setting and fulfilling the Government’s agenda. In that function, you will work across Cabinet with all Ministers and be supported by the Privy Council Office.
- Lead our Government’s work in maintaining open and collaborative relationships with every province and territory, with the goal of working together to serve and improve the lives of all Canadians.
- Lead the conclusion of the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement legislative process while continuing to oversee Canada-U.S. relations.
- Lead key Cabinet work streams in the achievement of national commitments to Canadians. This includes:
- Work with the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health to strengthen Medicare by renewing our health agreements with the provinces and territories. This renewal should: ensure that every Canadian has access to a family doctor or primary health care team; set national standards for mental health services; make home care and palliative care more available; and continue to implement national universal pharmacare.
- Work with the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, to continue the implementation of the Pan-Canadian Framework on Clean Growth and Climate Change, while introducing additional carbon reduction measures that exceed current 2030 targets and firmly put Canada on a trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2050. This work must also be done in close coordination with the Minister of Natural Resources to ensure that the country’s vibrant energy sector is a full partner in this transition to a cleaner economy and that we continue our work to get our natural resources to world markets.
- Work with the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to introduce a national ban on all military-style assault rifles and work with the provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development to create up to 250,000 additional before- and after-school spaces for kids under 10, while providing additional support for early childhood educators and laying the groundwork for a pan-Canadian childcare system.
- Lead work with the provinces and territories to continue to eliminate barriers to trade between them, and work toward a stronger, more integrated Canadian economy. You will build on the Canadian Free Trade Agreement and actively assert federal jurisdiction where needed under section 91(2) of the Constitution Act, 1867 and Supreme Court decisions on the regulation of trade and commerce. Your work will include creating a Canada Free Trade Tribunal to hear, investigate, and help resolve cases where domestic trade barriers may exist.
- Coordinate closely with the Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages to ensure that the Regional Development Agencies’ plans and operations are consistent with the Government’s objectives of growing our economy and strengthening all regions of Canada. This includes working closely with the Quebec Lieutenant and the Special Representative for the Prairies.
- Work with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to coordinate the work of Ministerial Regional Offices to ensure they support the work of all Ministers to engage with all regions of the country.
- Support me in hosting a First Ministers’ Meeting in early 2020, where discussions will include how we move forward on the national commitments outlined in your mandate.
- Support the Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations on the self-determination work that is taking place in full partnership with First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. Specifically, you will support them with their engagement with provinces and territories. You will also support me in preparing for a First Ministers’ Meeting specifically on how we continue to advance reconciliation.
These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments. As mentioned, you are encouraged to seek opportunities to work across Parliament in the fulfillment of these commitments and to identify additional priorities.
I expect you to work closely with your Deputy Minister and their 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 the many daily decisions necessary to ensure the achievement of your priorities, the effective running of the government and better services for Canadians. It is my expectation that you will apply our values and principles to these decisions so that they 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 implement our priorities depends on consideration of 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 their direction, is to support you in the performance of your responsibilities.
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. 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, including elements that have been added to strengthen it, and ensure that your staff does so as well. I expect that in staffing your offices you will hire people who reflect the diversity of Canada, and that you will uphold principles of gender equality, disability equality, pay equity and inclusion.
Give particular attention 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.
I will note that you are responsible for ensuring that your Minister’s Office meets the highest standards of professionalism and that it is a safe, respectful, rewarding and welcoming place for your staff to work.
I know I can count on you to fulfill the important responsibilities entrusted in you. It is incumbent on you to turn to me early and often to support you in your role as Deputy Prime Minister.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada