For the past 11 years, the Liberal Party of Canada has put its promises into print in
a series of pre-election policy documents known as the Red Books. These publications make
it possible for voters to hold the party accountable for how well it has kept its
In 1993, Jean Chrétien�s Liberals had been out of government for almost a decade. Platform
co-chairs Paul Martin and Chaviva Hosek consulted coast to coast for more than a year
before coming up with the series of policies that put the party back on the government
side of the House. The 112-page book they co-authored, entitled Creating Opportunity: The
Liberal Plan for Canada, was immediately nicknamed the Red Book because of the colour of
The 1997 version was 10 pages skinnier, as Chrétien�s team consolidated its control over
spending and grew more careful about making promises that might turn into quagmires. Few
people have forgotten the party's unkept 1993 pledge to scrap the GST, for example. The
second Red Book�s title reflected the party�s stay-the-course plan: Securing Our Future
Together: Preparing Canada for the 21st Century.
Leading up to the 2000 election, Chrétien was in a position of strength, facing a divided
field of foes. The Canadian Alliance under Stockwell Day looked likely to form the
official Opposition at best. The third Red Book, titled Opportunity for All: The Liberal
Plan for the Future of Canada, reflected the contemporary view of Chr�tien�s
Liberals: that a large part of their continued success was due to their strategy of not
promising or making major structural changes in the way Canada operated.
In fact, the party�s plan in 2000 consisted of simple commitments, many of which had not
been just promised, but already tackled in the months leading up to the November vote. And
they were contained in an economical 32 pages -- including the covers, which, naturally,
were a bright, bright red.
CBC.ca has tracked every promise in that pamphlet to see what action has been taken since
November 2000. Where possible, we�ve sought feedback from lobby and industry groups as
well as the government departments involved.
Obviously, some of the government�s most pressing issues over the past four years could
not have been foreseen in 2000. The new priorities include beefing up national security
in the wake of the Sept.11 attacks against the United States, dealing with the mad-cow
crisis, and responding to court rulings legalizing same-sex marriage.