In the past few weeks, the Liberals of Justin Trudeau have gone from skywalkers to stumblebums. They've strikingly mismanaged issues such as their fundraising ethics and a new electoral system, serving themselves up as punching bags for the media and opposition critics.
But a few weeks do not a year make. If the work of the government is put in its broader time frame, Mr. Trudeau and company can find some comfort.
The party still enjoys high popularity with the people. So does the Prime Minister. The Liberals have put up a record of progress in year one that compares more than favourably to the first years of other newly elected Liberal governments, such as Lester Pearson's, Pierre Trudeau's, Jean Chrétien's.
In terms of the number of bills passed, the Grits of today are actually far behind recent Parliaments. But they can be credited with a dozen or more deeds, some of them still in the pipeline, that are significant. Conservatives, who have performed ably under Rona Ambrose, are not impressed. Nor can they be expected to be, especially given the bold turn of the Trudeauites to deficit spending. But the electorate put the Liberals in power for progressive purposes, and on many they have delivered.
What have they done? Their first big score was on immigration. The settlement of Syrian refugees won the country international plaudits. Their latest achievement was the securing of a deal with the provinces for a national price on carbon. After two decades of inertia, the country finally has a national climate plan.
In between, there has been much more. On the economy, there was the tax cut for the middle class and the means-tested child benefit plan. The Liberals worked out a deal with the provinces on the expansion of the Canada Pension Plan and they brought back the eligibility age for Old Age Security to 65 from 67.
There's tens of billions of dollars in infrastructure spending being rolled out in an attempt to spur the low-growth economy. It is a risk-laden venture as the Liberals now have a projected deficit of no less than three times the promised size.
On natural resources, there is finally progress on pipelines, as Mr. Trudeau is moving ahead on the Trans Mountain and the Enbridge Line 3 projects. On trade, his team have overcome obstacles to complete the European free-trade deal initially negotiated by Stephen Harper's Conservatives.
Canada's sad-sack Senate hadn't seen major reform in eons. The Liberals brought it, removing much of the pork-barrelling from the appointments process and making the Red Chamber considerably more independent.
Mr. Trudeau's fundraising practices are decidedly old-school politics. But his government has made major strides on openness that contrast the fear and loathing in Mr. Harper's control-freak kingdom. In his first year alone, Mr. Trudeau has held more press conferences in the National Press Theatre than Mr. Harper did in a decade. The long-form census has been returned, the much-pilloried Fair Elections Act is being replaced, new rules eliminate the offensive practice of political advertising on the taxpayer dime and there are a host of other improvements.
The government, which features the first ever gender-balanced cabinet, has made physician-assisted dying legal and launched an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
On defence, the military is finally getting a new fleet of search and rescue planes. There is an increased military presence in Iraq and 450 soldiers in Latvia. On the negative side, there's the been flip-flop on the Saudi arms sale and disarray over the purchase of F-35 fighter jets.
There's been backflips on budgetary and other promises, a series of gaffes by rookie ministers, the aforementioned stumbles of the past month, this week's failure to reach a new health accord with the provinces.
But any suggestion that Mr. Trudeau is an all-glitz, no-action prime minister has been shown to be pure poppycock. To go with the tinsel there's been far-reaching engagement. Despite the sour ending, it's been a year of progress.