Dear Mr. Blair:
Thank you for agreeing to serve Canadians as Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
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. The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs is 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 Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, you will lead the Government’s work in ensuring that Canadians are kept safe from a range of threats, while safeguarding the rights and freedoms of Canadians. You will identify and prepare for threats to public security, including national security, cyber security and increasingly frequent climate-related emergencies. You will continue your leadership on organized crime reduction and border security, and will implement the Government’s firearms commitments.
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:
- With support from the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, implement our firearms policy commitments, including to:
- Amend Canada’s firearms laws to ban all military-style assault rifles, with an associated buyback program and two-year amnesty;
- Work with provinces and territories to give municipalities the ability to further restrict or ban handguns;
- Update firearms licence requirements for ammunition imports, strengthen safe-storage laws, develop a mechanism for suspending licences for those who pose a danger to themselves or others, continue to build a national system that allows for the flagging of bulk purchases of firearms, impose stronger penalties for gun smuggling, provide the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) with additional resources to detect and stop gun smuggling, and work to limit by regulation the glorification of violence in firearms marketing and sales; and
- Continue to protect the rights of hunters and farmers. There will not be a return of the long-gun registry.
- Advance measures to keep our communities safe. You will invest additional resources to establish a dedicated funding stream for municipalities to fight gang-related violence and expand diversion programs that keep at-risk youth out of the criminal justice system.
- Continue to support the work of the Canada Centre for Community Engagement and Prevention of Violence and invest in front line programs that work to counter radicalization to violent extremism.
- As the Minister of Health continues the strict regulation of cannabis, co-lead on key priorities related to public safety, including responsible usage and keeping cannabis away from children.
- Lead the Government’s work on irregular migration, with the support of the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, including the new Border Enforcement Strategy and continued work with the United States to modernize the Safe Third Country Agreement.
- Work with the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to continue to advance reforms and investments in the capacity of the asylum system to ensure it is efficient while meeting Canada’s international legal obligations.
- Work with the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to combat online hate and harassment, and continue to invest in resources to counter the rise of ideologically motivated violent extremism and terrorist organizations.
- Provide additional support to the RCMP, so that it can hire and train 100 additional officers specialized in narcotics trafficking and other international priorities to more effectively serve as liaisons for embassies abroad.
- Reintroduce and bring into force legislation to create a review body for the CBSA.
- Continue to advance Canada’s first-ever National Action Plan on Post-Traumatic Stress Injuries for first responders.
- Support the Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development to develop a National Action Plan on Gender-Based Violence.
- Expand the Memorial Grant Program for First Responders to include correctional workers by the end of 2020, and continue to consult with other public safety workers to further broaden the program as appropriate.
- Ensure that all officials in Canada’s law enforcement and security agencies have access to unconscious bias and cultural competency training, with support from the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth.
- With the Minister of Indigenous Services, co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing, which recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service, and work with interested communities to expand the number of communities served by First Nations policing.
- Continue efforts to reduce the smuggling of opioids and other synthetic drugs across Canadian borders in partnership with provinces, territories, municipalities, the United States and other international partners.
- Work with the Minister of Finance, the Minister of National Revenue and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to continue to develop new policies and legislation to reduce organized crime and gang activity in Canada, including money laundering.
- Work with the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, who is the Minister responsible for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, to create a new low-cost national flood insurance program to protect homeowners at high risk of flooding and without adequate insurance protection, as well as to develop a national action plan to assist homeowners with potential relocation for those at the highest risk of repeat flooding.
- Support the President of the Treasury Board in building a relationship and bargaining in good faith with the newly formed RCMP union.
- Support the Minister of National Defence to introduce a new framework governing how Canada gathers, manages and uses defence intelligence, as recommended by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
- Ensure the RCMP completes its review of unfounded cases and continues to collaborate with other police services as needed to make sure that survivors of sexual assault are treated fairly by the criminal justice system.
- Work with the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada to coordinate efforts to prosecute terror suspects to the fullest extent of the law, including bringing forward the creation of the Director of Terrorism Prosecutions.
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 and the Deputy Prime Minister early and often to support you in your role as Minister.
Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada