Having established, in my last post, that Justin Trudeau’s speaking engagements haven’t really affected his performance as an MP, I think it’s time we asked the question: how has his performance as an MP actually been? One way to measure this is to actually examine his voting record, as shown on the Parliamentary web site.
We start with the 40th Parliament, 1st session, which is when Mr. Trudeau first entered the Buildings as the representative for Papineau. That particular session lasted a bare 3 weeks, covering the last half of November and first part of December 2008, so it’s not surprising that Justin had one recorded vote: rejection of a subamendment brought forward by the Bloc Québécois. This would have been a whipped vote, and it was joined by the Tories and NDP, so no surprises there.
The second session of the 40th Parliament took up most of 2009, and Mr. Trudeau had 125 recorded votes. Among them:
- several whipped votes supporting the Conservatives on money measures covering the fiscal year ending in March, for most of January
- on 10 March, votes supporting Opposition motions on Quebec forestry, EI reform, and increased spending on science. This last one was sponsored by Marc Garneau
- on 1 April, a vote supporting second reading of NDP MP Bruce Hyer’s Bill C-311 on climate change accountability; he would also vote for its concurrence in the next session
- on 22 April, a vote supporting second reading of Tory MP Joy Smith’s Bill C-268, which imposed a minimum term of five years for child trafficking; he would also vote for this bill passing third reading and referral to the Senate on 30 September
- on 22 April, a vote supporting second reading of Bloc MP Thierry St-Cyr’s Bill C-291, which delayed the coming into force of certain sections of the Immigration and Refugee Protection act
- on 27 May, a vote supporting a Bloc motion increasing the guaranteed income supplement for pensioners
- on 27 May, a vote supporting NDP MP Yvon Godin’s Bill C-232, which required Supreme Court justices to be fully bilingual; he would also support the bill at third reading
- on 3 June, a vote supporting the government’s Bill C-24, implementing trade agreements between Canada and Peru
- on 3 June, a vote to support his own motion to study the establishment of a national voluntary service policy for Canadian Youth (the motion was defeated)
- on 3 June, a vote to support a Bloc motion to study the establishment of a North American cap-and-trade market for greenhouse gas emission targets
- on 3 June, a vote against Bloc MP Pierre Paquette’s Bill C-307, which would have barred the federal government from having a say in how the Quebec government implemented its language charter
- on 1 October, a vote supporting the Liberals’ motion of non-confidence (it was defeated)
The third session (2010-2011) had Mr. Trudeau voting 148 times. Among the votes:
- on 14 April, a vote supporting NDP MP Alex Atamanenko’s Bill C-474, which required the government to have a harm analysis conducted before allowing the sale of any genetically-modified seed
- on 16 June, a vote supporting NDP MP Linda Duncan’s Bill C-469, which would have established a Canadian Environmental Bill of Rights
- on 29 September, a vote supporting Marc Garneau’s motion that the government reinstate the mandatory long-form census
- on 29 September a vote to support Liberal MP Gerard Kennedy’s Bill C-440, which would have barred the government from deporting “war resisters” (the bill was defeated in that vote)
- on 27 October, a vote against Tory MP Lee Richardson’s motion to encourage investment in Canada through lower corporate tax rates, maintaining a stable economy and the signing of free trade agreements
- on 23 November, a vote to support Liberal MP Dominic LeBlanc’s motion to cancel the F-35 fighter purchase and find a CF-18 replacement via open competition
- on 30 November, a vote against Bloc MP Claude Bachand’s motion to condemn the government for extending Canada’s mission to Afghanistan
- on 7 December, a vote to support NDP MP Nathan Cullen’s motion to ban bulk oil tanker traffic in the Dixon Entrance, Hecate Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound
- on 9 February, a vote to support NDP MP Bill Siksay’s Bill C-389, which puts “gender identity and expression” under the Canadian Human Rights Act
We now come to the current session of Parliament, which started in June 2011. Among Mr. Trudeau’s votes:
- on 30 November, a vote against Tory MP Richard Harris’s Bill C-316, which amends the Employment Insurance Act so that a claimant’s qualifying and benefit periods can be extended to cover time spent in jail — so long as the claimant isn’t found guilty of the charges which prompted the incarceration.
- on 1 February 2012, a vote against Tory MP John Carmichael’s Bill C-288, which basically states that landlords can’t stop their tenants from displaying the flag from their apartment balconies; however, on 28 March he votes to support this bill on third reading
- on 8 February, a vote against NDP MP Mathieu Ravignat’s Bill C-306, which wanted an MP’s seat to be declared vacant (and a subsequent by-election called) if the MP in question defected to another party
- on 15 February, a vote supporting Tory MP Bill Richards’ Bill C-309, which makes it a Criminal Code offence to wear a mask or conceal identity when taking part in a riot or other unlawful assembly
- on 15 February, a vote against Tory MP Brian Storseth’s Bill C-304, which deleted Section 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act
- on 29 February, a vote against Tory MP David Wilks’ Bill C-299, which imposes a mandatory minimum 5 year sentence on anyone found guilty of kidnapping a child
- on 7 March, a vote supporting Tory MP Roxanne James’ Bill C-293, which basically says that a corrections commissioner can stop an offender from filing a complaint or grievance when the offender has a history of submitting frivolous or un-serious complaints
- on 20 June, a vote against Tory MP Parm Gill’s Bill C-394, which makes it an offence to recruit someone into a criminal organization
So. What does Mr. Trudeau’s voting record say about him?
Well, leaving aside the dictates of party discipline and partisan loyalty, I’d say that the record fits the mold that people think of, when they think of the ideal Liberal: left-of-centre when it comes to social issues, bit more right-of-centre when it comes to the economic ones. There’s a tendency to disagree with the Bloc, especially when it comes to attempts to expand Quebec’s powers. It’s a record that most voters in the middle would feel comfortable with, even when they look at the votes they don’t agree with.
I think I argued, a while back, that Justin Trudeau doesn’t really represent the face for true reform of the Liberal Party. His voting record pretty much confirms this.