For those of you who may not have heard, Canada elected a new federal government this week. After nearly 10 years of Conservative reign, the Liberals, and their charismatic leader Justin Trudeau, will have their crack at guiding the country for the next 4 years.
As someone who’s never been a big fan of Stephen Harper and his controlling/divisive nature, I’m pretty optimistic about this shift. Not only do I think Trudeau will help to re-establish Canada’s reputation among the international community, his election promises to pursue electoral reform, revise our tax structure and be a leader on climate change are all moves in the right direction.
A few of the more under-reported commitments Trudeau made during the campaign that really excited me were summarized by the Centre for Science in the Public Interest in a press release on October 20, 2015.
- introduce new restrictions on the commercial marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children, similar to those now in place in Quebec;
- bring in tougher regulations to eliminate trans fats, similar to those in the U.S., and to reduce salt in processed foods;
- improve food labels to give more information on added sugars and artificial dyes in processed foods; and
- additional investments of $40 million for Nutrition North and $80 million for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.
The new Government also advocates a set of reforms that could really help breathe life into informed decision-making and, more importantly, into the health of Canadians by proposing to:
- establish a Chief Science Officer and Advertising Commissioner for the Auditor General,
- enhance the independence of Parliamentary committees and Statistics Canada, and
- strengthen access-to-information laws.
Liberal plans to help charities and non-profits to be more independent of government may even help ensure that public interest groups play a more robust role in informing future election debates.
As a dietitian, I especially LOVE their promises regarding junk food marketing to children and regulations for trans fats and sodium. Now if we just get to revising our existing nutrition guidelines (Canada’s Food Guide) we’ll really be on a roll.
Of course, these are all just promises at this point, and as we all know the track record of politicians keeping their campaign promises isn’t great.
It’s your move Justin. Please justify my optimism.