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The Trudeau Government Just Released These 8 Under The Radar Priorities

From cracking down on junk food to figuring out suicide laws, the government is tackling some surprising areas.

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When a new government comes in it gives each department a "mandate letter" defining its priorities. Usually the letters are kept top secret, but today the Liberals made theirs public.

Mostly they enact the Liberal platform, from cutting taxes on the middle class to bringing in 25,000 refugees by the end of the year.

Each letter starts with a pep talk about delivering on promises, working together, and even respecting media. While most of the directions were already known, here are some that are new or flew under the radar.

1. Ban junk food advertisements to children.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

Health Canada is tasked with cracking down on unhealthy food and beverages. How? The mandate letter references the Quebec model, which bans advertising unhealthy food and drinks to children. There's evidence it works.

2. Revamp the nutrition labels on food to make them more informative. Also, bring in new tobacco packaging.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

The health department is also being directed to go after trans fats and salt in processed foods, but the details aren't clear.


3. Give trans people protection by adding gender identity provisions to the criminal code and Canadian Human Rights Act.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

This nearly happened under the last government. Some Conservative MPs sided with the opposition to pass Randall Garrison's trans-rights bill through the House of Commons. But then it languished in the Senate, was gutted, and ultimately didn't pass anyway. Now Trudeau is bringing it back.

4. Repeal mandatory minimum sentences (probably).

Joshua Lott / Reuters

The Justice Department is being told to review the justice reforms made by the Conservatives over the past decade. Mandatory minimums were the controversial centrepiece of those reforms. The mandate doesn't explicitly say to repeal them, but the writing seems to be on the wall.

5. Bring more gender parity to the top ranks of the civil service.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

Gender parity in cabinet went over well and the Liberals are keeping it going. Status of Women Canada is being directed to help develop a monitoring process to ensure the "government's senior appointments are merit-based and demonstrate gender parity."

6. Figure out doctor-assisted suicide. Quickly.

Joshua Lott / Reuters

The Supreme Court of Canada struck down the ban on doctor-assisted suicide almost a year ago. The Liberal government has until only February to figure out how this will work in practice.


7. Repeal the law that lets government strip citizenship from some Canadians.

Sean Kilpatrick / THE CANADIAN PRESS

This isn't a shocker as Trudeau had already promised this. But the Liberals will reverse the Conservative policy to allow the government to strip citizenship from dual-citizens who are convicted of terrorism-related offences.

8. Lots of talk of climate change

Joshua Lott / Reuters

The 30 mandate letters include several mentions of adapting to climate change. They includes helping farmers adjust to climate change, examining the impacts of climate change on the arctic, setting emissions targets with the provinces, and even "climate finance" to aid countries most destabilized by climate change.

Paul McLeod is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC.

Contact Paul McLeod at

Emma Loop is a politics reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. PGP fingerprint: 4A39 DD99 953C 6CAF D68C 85CD C380 AB23 859B 0611.

Contact Emma Loop at

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