At Issue panel: Trudeau's first six months in power

During the election the Liberals made an overarching promise that they would change the way politics are done in Canada. After six months, have they kept their promise? Thursday's At Issue panelists Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert, and Shachi Kurl join Peter Mansbridge.

Panelists Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert and Shachi Kurl weigh in on the Liberal government's milestone

During the election the Liberals made an overarching promise that they would change the way politics are done in Canada. After six months, have they kept their promise?

Thursday's At Issue panelists Andrew Coyne, Chantal Hébert, and Shachi Kurl joined Peter Mansbridge to discuss what's changed — and what hasn't.

"In the outward appearance of things, it's a much more agreeable face of politics: more gracious at times, more capable of reaching out to opponents, less hardball, less secretive," Coyne said. But the new Liberal government is also one that is "quite adept to the black arts of politics." 

He said that while the Liberals may be lighter in tone, in substance they are not hugely different than previous governments. 

Kurl said that this early on, the Liberals simply have to maintain voter expectations. 

"They don't even have to keep any promises six months in — and so the early answer on change is yes," she said. 

One considerable change is the Liberals' use of public consultation in decision making. Kurl said this is a smart move away from the "centralist" and "top-down" decision-making policy seen under the Harper government. This is a strategic political play by the Liberals to buy more time to address their campaign promises, she said.

Hébert noted that Trudeau's tone when addressing his Liberal caucus to celebrate six months in power was not overly triumphant, and that his remarks reminded caucus of all of the work still to be done moving forward.

Though the Liberals have delivered on some of their campaign promises, electoral reform will be a big test to the new government, she said.

"If this government is serious about changing the way he does politics, he's going to have to put forward a mechanism that allows the opposition parties to have more say than their numbers in the House of Commons [would suggest] on how we vote in the future," Hébert said.

The At Issue panel appears Thursday nights on CBC Television's The National.