CHG Federal Update: – End of Session Wrap

End of Session Wrap

June 22, 2017

With the House rising for summer, Capital Hill Group is happy to provide our clients and subscribers with a review of Parliamentary activities, including a deep dive into committee activities most relevant to you, a close look at the new Innovation Superclusters Initiative, and a look ahead to the political news that could make waves over the summer and beyond.

CONTENTS

Review of Government Legislative Activity
How much progress has the Government made in introducing and advancing its agenda?

Committee Work this Sitting: What to Look For
House and Senate Committees complete important work, reviewing bills and creating reports that inform Canadian policy. We have selected key Committees and provided an overview of their work since January. The highlights include a report on the changing media context in Canada; influential studies on Canadian defence that informed the Defence Policy Review; an interim report on unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) regulations; and an ongoing study of connected and automated vehicles. Read on to learn more.

House Committee Reports:

Senate Committee Reports:

Superclusters:  A New Initiative to Promote Canadian Business Partnerships 
With a July 21 application deadline, find out what the guidelines and background is on Innovation, Science, and Economic Development’s effort to promote innovation partnerships in Canada 

Senate Causing Headaches for Trudeau Government
House and Senate play ping-pong over legislation, with dramatic showdowns over Budget Implementation Bill – could future conflicts looms?

Reset for the Fall? Speculation on Prorogation and Cabinet Shuffle
Beset by delays in the Senate, disputes with the Opposition, and working overtime on managing relations with the Trump White House, there is a sense both in and outside of the Government that the Prime Minister may seek to prorogue the House over the summer. This would trigger a new Speech from the Throne where the government could outline priorities for the second-half of their mandate. Trudeau could also shuffle cabinet to present new faces to the public at the half-way point before the next election.

Big Name Conservative Retirements to Test New Leaders
Newly elected Conservative leader Andrew Scheer has some big shoes he will be looking to fill, with the former Cabinet Minister and Interim Conservative Leader Rona Ambrose and former Cabinet Minister and current Conservative Deputy Leader Denis Lebel both announcing they will be stepping away from federal politics at the end of this sitting, but the by-elections caused by their resignation will be a test for all parties. 

NAFTA Consultations
With the Trump White House intending to re-negotiate NAFTA, The Government of Canada is seeking the views of Canadians on the scope of the renegotiation and modernization of the existing NAFTA. 

Important Dates to Watch
Deadlines for Supercluster Applications, Political Gatherings, and the Return of the House and more
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Review of Government Legislative Activity
Since January, the Government has initiated 22 bills and 12 bills received royal assent, including those previously introduced that only received royal assent in the most recent sitting. This is low for a majority government, but consistent with this Government’s past record. Overall, it has introduced 63 bills and passed 25 of them. Approximately 20 bills are waiting for their Second Reading in the House.

Committee Work this Sitting: What to Look For

In the House:

The Heritage Committee (CHPC)

Report Status
Indigenous Participation in Sport No meetings
Canadian Women and Girls in Sport Last meeting: Jun 15
The Media and Local Communities Presented: Jun 15
Systematic Racism and Religious Discrimination Last meeting: Jun 8
Bill C-311, An Act to Amend the Holidays Act (Remembrance Day) Presented: Mar 21
The State of Canadian Museums Last meeting: Feb 2

The Heritage Committee’s report on The Media and Local Communities identifies many challenges in Canada’s changing media landscape and offers 20 recommendations. The main issue identified by the report is that traditional news sources are losing advertising revenue due to the increasing popularity of digital media sources. The recommendations focus on modernizing media policies and regulations so they apply to digital media. This includes extending Canadian content requirements to digital sources as well as allowing digital sources to benefit from the same government assistance as traditional media. The Committee also includes several recommendations aimed at assisting traditional media sources in expanding to the digital platform.

Finance (FINA)

Report Status
Comprehensive Review of Canada’s Tax System No meetings
Pre-Budget Consultations in Advance of the 2018 Budget Open for participation until Aug 4
Canada’s Federal Regional Development Agencies Supporting Businesses, Sectors, Individuals and Communities: A Summary of the Testimony Presented: Jun 20
Consumer Protection and Oversight in Relation to Schedule I Banks Last meeting: Jun 12
Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 Presented: May 31
Economic and Fiscal Outlook Last meeting: May 1
Report of the Bank of Canada on Monetary Policy Last meeting: Apr 12
Economic Growth in the Territories Last meeting: Apr 7
Canadian Real Estate Market and Home Ownership Presented: Apr 6
Bill C-240, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (tax credit – first aid) Presented: Feb 23
Second Report of the Advisory Council on Economic Growth Last meeting: Feb 15

The House Finance Committee launched its Pre-Budget Consultations on June 2nd and is accepting briefs until August 4th. The focus is on productivity and competitiveness, and submissions should answer these questions:

  1. What federal measures would help Canadians to be more productive?
  2. What federal measures would help Canadian businesses to be more productive and competitive?

In September, the Clerk of the Committee will extend invitations to selected groups or individuals to appear as witnesses. The findings of the Committee should be tabled in December and thus available to the Finance Minister as he develops the 2018 Budget.

The Committee also studied the April 2017 Economic and Fiscal Outlook published by the Office of the Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO). Testimony from Jean-Denis Fréchette, the Parliamentary Budget Officer, highlighted key issues for parliamentarians relating to economic and fiscal outlook, federal infrastructure spending, and operating expenses.

  • Economic and fiscal outlook: The PBO projects budgetary deficits that are $5.9 billion lower than the Government’s estimates for 2016-17 to 2021-22.
  • Federal infrastructure spending: The PBO expects federal infrastructure spending to increase in 2017-18 to more than projected in Budget 2016 after having lagged previously.
  • Operating expenses: Budget 2017 provides for 1% annual growth in the medium term while collective agreements promise annual wage growth exceeding this amount.

Health (HESA)

Report Status
Antimicrobial Resistance Last meeting: Jun 15
Federal Framework on Lyme Disease Last meeting: Jun 8
Public Health Effects of Online Violent and Degrading Sexually Explicit Material on Children, Women and Men Presented: Jun 9
Thalidomide Survivors Contribution Program Last meeting: Jun 1
Bill C-211, An Act Respecting a Federal Framework on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Presented: May 30
Bill S-211, An Act Respecting National Sickle Cell Awareness Day Presented: May 9
Development of a National Pharmacare Program Last meeting: May 2
Bill C-37, An Act to Amend the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to Make Related Amendments to Other Acts Presented: Feb 10
Current Blood Donation Restrictions on Men Who Have Sex with Men Open for participation, last meeting Feb 2

The House Committee on Health has been studying the Development of a National Pharmacare Program since April of 2016. They have received at least 27 briefs and heard from 89 witnesses. Their last meeting on this topic was on May 2nd of this year, but they have not released a formal report yet. The recommendations of this report will likely inform the future direction of Canadian pharmaceutical coverage. Many of those testifying strongly support a national pharmacare program similar to those of other countries who have similar healthcare systems. However, they also recognize the challenges of the Canadian context and the importance of a strong structure for the program and democratic accountability.

Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN)

Report Status
Bill C-17, An Act to Amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-Economic Assessment Act and to Make a Consequential Amendment to Another Act Last meeting: Jun 20
Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequalities in registration) Presented: Jun 16
Suicide Among Indigenous Peoples and Communities Presented: Jun 19
Default Prevention and Management Policy Presented: May 29

The House Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs conducted a study on Suicide Among Indigenous Peoples and Communities. Indigenous peoples in Canada experience disproportionately high rates of suicide than non-Indigenous groups. The study found that social determinants of health are a critical point of intervention that could help in this crisis. It offered 28 recommendations following the themes of self-determination and reconciliation, social determinants of health, and mental health services. Key recommendations are to:

  • Improve housing and community infrastructure
  • Close the educational attainment gap
  • Address abuse and mental distress
  • Support Indigenous peoples and communities in leading the changes they want to see in their communities
  • Recognize the importance of Indigenous language and culture to community well-being

The study was presented to the House on June 19th and is available on the Committee’s website for interested parties.

Industry, Science and Technology (INDU)

Report Status
Broadband Connectivity in Rural Canada Open for participation
Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer Open for participation until Jul 31
Canada – United States Cooperation in Innovation and Jobs Creation Presented: Jun 12
Manufacturing Sector Presented: May 31
Bill C-36, An Act to Amend the Statistics Act Presented: May 8
Bill C-25, An Act to Amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, the Canada Cooperatives Act, the Canada Not-for-profit Act, and the Competition Act Presented: Mar 22

The House Committee on Industry, Science and Technology is studying Intellectual property and Technology Transfer and is accepting briefs on the topic until July 31st. Their goal is to gain a better understanding of how intellectual property and technology move from post-secondary institutions to industry and to identify best practices.

Previously, the Committee completed a study on Canada – United States Cooperation in Innovation and Jobs Creation. This study looked at broadband connectivity, intellectual property, and commercialization challenges for universities. Their findings on broadband connectivity in rural and remote areas were that access should be expanded gradually and governments should avoid favouring one technology over another as different technologies can be complimentary. They also found that a legislative approach could facilitate intellectual property and technology transfer, but governments in Canada and the United States do not have the same jurisdiction over universities so policies cannot necessarily be synchronized easily. Also noted were the difficulties faced by universities in investing in pre-commercialization stages and training researchers in sales and commercialization.

National Defence (NDDN)

Report Status
Canada’s Defence Policy Review Last meeting: Jun 20
Canada’s Involvement in NATO Last meeting: Jun 15
Canada and the Defence of North America (three reports) Presented: Jun 15
Force Protection Presented: Apr 6
Suicide Mortality in the Canadian Armed Forces Last meeting: Feb 23

The House Committee on National Defence has been studying Canada and the Defence of North America for over a year and has published three reports. The first one is about NORAD and Aerial Readiness and has 13 recommendations. These provide guidelines and timelines for the purchase of the CR-18 replacements; emphasize pilot safety; prioritize air-to-air refueling; highlight the threats posed by cruise and ballistic missiles; identify new surveillance needs in the North; and mention cyber-attacks as an emerging threat.

The second report, on the Canada-U.S. Relationship, noted the challenges posed by the new administration in Washington. Particularly, Trump’s extreme position and failure to fill many senior-level positions has added a layer of uncertainty to American policy, making it difficult for Canada to align their goals with those of the United States. What is clear, though, is that Canada will be asked to do more by their southern neighbour, likely related to NORAD, NATO, or international peace operations.

The third and final report is on The Readiness of Canada’s Naval Forces. It emphasizes the importance of the Navy and the need to make it modern, balanced, multi-purpose, globally-deployable, and combat-capable. The document’s 22 recommendations include many relating to procurement, including:

  • Requirements for Canadian Surface Combatant capabilities
  • Replacing the submarine fleet, the RCAF CP-140 Aurora patrol aircraft, and icebreakers
  • Purchasing 12 Canadian Coastal Patrol Ships

Beyond these recommendations others propose increasing the Naval budget generally and reaffirming international commitments to NATO and ASEAN. The Committee’s findings informed the June Defence Policy Review published by the Ministry of Defence.

Public Safety and National Security (SECU)

Report Status
Bill S-231, An Act to Amend the Canada Evidence Act and the Criminal Code (protection of journalistic sources) Presented: Jun 20
Bill S-233, An Act to Amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements) Presented: Jun 8
Bill C-23, An Act Respecting the Preclearance of Persons and Goods in Canada and the United States Presented: Jun 16
Canada’s National Security Framework Presented: May 2
Bill C-226, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (offences in relation to conveyances) and the Criminal Records Act and to make Consequential Amendments to other Acts Presented: May 3

The House Committee on Public Safety and National Security studied Canada’s National Security Framework and presented a report that emphasizes the importance of respecting the constitutionally protected rights of Canadians while also effectively protecting Canadians against terrorism. The report concludes that these two goals are not counter to each other, as is often assumed, and provides 41 specific recommendations to protect human rights in Canada, including changes to the Criminal Code, warrant requirements for disruption activities that violate Canadian law, and mandatory reports on disruption activities.

Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN)

Report Status
Bill C-49, Transportation Modernization Act Open for participation
Aviation Safety Presented: Jun 20
Water Quality Last meeting: Jun 6
Navigation Protection Act Presented: Mar 23
Infrastructure and Smart Communities Last meeting: Feb 21
Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Regulations Interim report presented: Feb 21
Canada Infrastructure Bank Last meeting: Feb 9

The House Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities conducted a study on Aviation Safety in Canada, studying personnel, enforcement and monitoring of legislation, equipment and infrastructure, flight operations, accident intervention, and security. The report includes 17 recommendations. Many of these are related to training procedures such as the flight vs. simulator-based training requirements. Another important recommendation is that Transport Canada develops a timeline to address operating conditions and infrastructure needs of airlines in Northern Canada and small airports.

The Committee also studied Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) Regulations and published an interim report in February. The rapidly growing UAV industry has many benefits for Canadian society, but it also poses safety challenges, especially with the large number of recreational users. To increase safety, the Committee recommends the creation of simple, clear, and enforceable UAV regulations and offers 24 recommendations for them. Key recommendations include:

  • Flexibility in regulations to allow them to keep up with the industry
  • Complementing the regulatory structures for UAVs in the United States
  • Placing the onus for safety of Canadians on manufacturers and the industry at large
  • That Transport Canada assess the appropriateness of immediately regulating robot UAVs

In the Senate:

Aboriginal Peoples (APPA)

Report Status
Study on the New Relationship Between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples Last meeting: Jun 20
Bill S-3, An Act to Amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) Presented: May 30
We Can do Better: Housing in Inuit Nunangat Presented: Mar 1

The Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples is currently hearing testimony about the New Relationship Between Canada and First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples. The Committee has heard from a wide variety of individuals, including historical and legal experts, community leaders, individuals, and others. While not yet complete, the Study is likely to place the current relationship in the context of Canada’s historical relationship to Indigenous peoples. Its findings will serve as a guide to understanding and improving this relationship.

Banking, Trade and Commerce (BANC)

Report Status
National Corridor: Enhancing and Facilitating Commerce and Internal Trade Presented: Jun 21
Study on the Current and Emerging Issues of the Banking Sector and Monetary Policy of the United States Last meeting: Jun 21
Study on the Present State of the Domestic and International Financial System Last meeting: Jun 14
C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 Presented: Jun 7
Bill S-224, An Act Respecting Payments Made Under Construction Contracts Presented: Apr 4
Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s User Fee Proposal, dated September 2016, for changes to trademark fees Presented: Feb 7
Canadian Intellectual Property Office’s User Fee Proposal, dated September 2016,for changes to patent fees Presented: Feb 7

The Senate Committee on Banking, Trade and Commerce reviewed two proposals from the Canadian Intellectual Property Office regarding user fees. One, about trademark fees, would make three changes:

  • A new application fee merging current application and registration fees
  • A new fee per Nice Classification for filing and renewal
  • An increased renewal fee

The other, about patents, makes the following changes:

  • A new fee for late payment of a filing or maintenance fee
  • A new fee for a late request for examination of an application
  • A change fee-based services for correcting an error in a patent and for submitting an amendment for an application that was already allowed

After reviewing these Proposals, the Committee recommended that they be approved. Once the fee-for-service proposals have been approved by the appropriate House Committee, they will go through the Gazette process for approving new fees and regulations.

National Finance (NFFN)

Report Status
Study on the Federal Government Infrastructure Funding Program Last meeting: Jun 20
Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 Presented: Jun 20
Financial Implications and Regional Considerations of Canada’s Aging Population on the Public Purse Last Meeting: Jun 14
Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Achieving Infrastructure Success Presented: Feb 28

The Senate Committee on National Finance is conducting an ongoing study of the Federal Government Infrastructure Funding Program, and it completed an Interim Report on infrastructure spending in February entitled Smarter Planning, Smarter Spending: Achieving Infrastructure Success. This report had six important findings:

  • The Government has not developed a strategic infrastructure plan but should.
  • The Government has created many different programs across governmental organizations, making administration complex and potentially creating overlaps. Instead, the Committee recommends that only Infrastructure Canada be involved.
  • The Gas Tax Fund is unanimously praised by municipalities and should be used as a model.
  • Application-based programs should be sufficiently flexible, with timely and transparent approval processes and straightforward reporting requirements.
  • Budget 2016 excluded trade infrastructure, which is important and should be included.

Since this report was published, the Committee has continued to study Federal Government infrastructure funding programs and is currently considering a draft report on this topic.

National Security and Defence (SECD)

Report Status
Canada’s National Security and Defence Policies, Practices, Circumstances and Capabilities Last meeting: Jun 21
Study on Issues Relating to Creating a Defined, Professional and Consistent System for Veterans as they leave the Canadian Armed Forces Last meeting: Jun 21
Bill C-22, An Act to Establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and to make Consequential Amendments to Certain Acts Presented: Jun 19
Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 Presented: Jun 6
Reinvesting in the Canadian Armed Forces: A Plan for the Future Presented: May 8
Military Underfunded: The Walk Must Match the Talk Presented: Apr 13
Bill S-233, An Act to Amend the Customs Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (presentation and reporting requirements) Presented: Apr 5

The Senate Committee on National Security and Defence has conducted many important studies over the last six months. The latest is about Canada’s Defence Policy, with a meeting on June 21st featuring testimony from Minister of Defence Harjit Sajjan. The previous studies looked at investments in the Canadian Armed Forces, both stressing the need for more funding. The recommendations in both documents informed the Defence Policy Review, published in June.

Social Affairs, Science and Technology (SOCI)

Report Status
Bill S-228, An Act to Amend the Food and Drugs Act Presented: Jun 21
Bill C-44, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 1 Presented: Jun 6
Bill C-233, An Act Respecting a National Strategy for Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias Presented: Jun 1
Study on the Role of Robotics, 3D Printing and Artificial Intelligence in the Healthcare System Last meeting: May 17
Bill S-5. An Act to Amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act and to Make Consequential Amendments to other Acts Presented: May 2
Bill C-6, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act and to make Consequential Amendments to Another Act Presented: Mar 7

The Senate Committee on Social Affairs, Science and Technology recently concluded a study of Bill S-228, a Private Member’s Bill seeking to stop the marketing of unhealthy food and beverages to children. The main areas of contention are the age at which a person is considered a child; how restrictions would be enforced for digital advertising; and how to identify which foods and beverages are considered unhealthy. The Committee reported this Bill with amendments on June 21st. One of the important changes redefined children as individuals under 17 years instead of 13 years. This change has the potential to complicate implementation by blurring the line between advertisements directed at children and those directed at adults.

Transport and Communications (TRCM)

Report Status
Study on the Regulatory and Technical Issues Related to the Deployment of Connected and Automated Vehicles Last meeting: Jun 14
Study on the Transport of Crude Oil in Canada Last meeting: Mar 1

The Senate Committee on Transport and Communications has been studying Regulatory and Technical Issues Related to the Deployment of Connected and Automated Vehicles since March 2016. They have heard from 34 witnesses so far, including engineers, academics, automobile manufacturers, and others. One of the main topics is safety and security and how government and industry can work together to keep Canadians safe in the face of new technology. While no report is currently available, witness testimony has raised issues such as:

  • How insurance and liability will work
  • Whether regulations should focus on certain levels of automation over others
  • If vehicle and traffic laws should be changed to keep pace with technological advances
  • How the government and private sector should interact when formulating regulations
  • How regulations should be harmonized across provinces and territories

The report, when available, will provide much needed guidance on how the Government should move forward with regulating connected and automated vehicles.

Superclusters:  A New Initiative to Promote Canadian Business Partnerships

The Innovation Superclusters Initiative (ISI) was launched on May 24th 2017, and is a business-led partnership model to align the efforts of diverse industries, researchers, and intermediary institutions, and build deep, ecosystem-level advantages in regions across Canada. Through the program, Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) will invest up to $950 million over five years, offering non-repayable contributions to not-for-profit entities representing industry-led consortia.  Industry led-consortia refers to a group of firms (i.e., large, small, and medium-sized enterprises) and other organizations (e.g., post-secondary and research institutions, not-for-profits, non-federal Crown corporations, etc.).

Participants in the industry-led consortium must be organizations incorporated in Canada and active in Canada.  A consortium must be composed of a minimum of four private sector enterprises (minimum two large firms, one medium, and one small) and at least one post-secondary institution. Once formed, this group needs to identify a common area of collaboration and complete a Letter of Intent. Additionally, the application must include at least four Letters of Commitment from private sector enterprises and one Letter of Support from a post-secondary institution. Applicants are encouraged to secure committed participants, Letters of Commitment and Letters of Support beyond the minimum requirements outlined above, which the ability to do so being considered a positive in the assessment of the applications.

From the consortia that submitted applications, the Minister for ISED will select up to five recipients, and contributions for these successful applicants will range between $125 million and $250 million. ISED contributions must be evenly matched (1:1) by industry contributions.

Interested businesses and research institutions must join a consortium and submit an application by noon on July 21st 2017 to be considered.

Successful applicants in this first stage will be invited to complete a more in-depth application in Fall 2017, and final decisions can be expected by the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year.

You can view more information on the Supercluster Initiative here.

Senate Causing Headaches for Trudeau Government

While the Liberal government may have broken its campaign promise to implement electoral reform before the next election, Prime Minister Trudeau has kept his word on his other major democratic reform plank – appointing independent Senators not expected to toe party lines, although he may be regretting keeping this decision, as the Senate did cause some tense moments over the last session.

Most notably, the Prime Minister pushed back against Senate attempt to break up the Government’s budget implementation bill in the Upper House, in the face of a challenge from Senators led by Quebec’s Andre Pratte (appointed under Trudeau) to separate the section of the budget dealing with the creation of the Infrastructure Bank. Trudeau said that he “very much respects and encourages the important role the Senate has in deliberating on pieces of legislation that pass through the House, on making recommendations and improvements in many cases … I think it’s an enhancement to our democratic institutions and to the governance of our country” but that it is “important to understand that the House of Commons has the authority when it comes to budgetary matters” and that the government is “looking for swift passage of the federal budget that passed through the House of Commons, with all the legitimacy that the elected House of Commons has.”

The question of constitutional legitimacy caused some dramatic moments last week, as Senate Speaker George Furey ruled to disallow a motion from Senator Pratte to carve the infrastructure bank provisions out of the budget bill, before being overruled by his colleagues in a 38-33 vote. Then, earlier this week, a Senate vote to split the budget bill failed, ending in a 38-38 tie, with the Speaker voting against the motion to break the tie, as is Parliamentary convention. The Senate also made amendments to the budget implementation bill, looking to delete a provision allowing the government to hike the federal excise tax on wine, beer and alcohol every year by the rate of inflation. After receiving these amendments, the Government in the House was quick and harsh in rejecting them rejected their amendments, sending a message back to the upper house that the changes “infringe upon the rights and privileges” of the Commons. The Senate ultimately blinked in the showdown, today agreeing to vote and pass the budget bill without its amendments, but the Speaker of the Senate reasserting the Senate’s right to amend any bill, including budget bills.

Trudeau has committed himself to maintaining the appointment of independent Senators, so the Upper House may continue to occasionally flex its legislative muscle – as it did with assisted dying, labour legislation, and may do with legislation regarding the legalization of marijuana.

Reset for the Fall? Speculation on Prorogation and Cabinet Shuffle

According to Liberal sources quoted in Reuters and The Hill Times, “Things are dragging. We need a reboot…Prorogation is most likely going to happen. The only question is whether it’s in the next few months or early 2018… prorogation would be likely to happen the Friday before the House comes back”, which is currently scheduled for September 18th. If the House were formally prorogued before being called back for the Fall sitting, it would allow Trudeau to present a new agenda and Throne Speech when MPs return to Ottawa. It would also potentially limit the number of sitting days lost to a prorogation, insulating the Government from the kind of complaints Stephen Harper faced when he prorogued Parliament.

With the fall sitting of Parliament also marking two years before the next general election, Ottawa is rife with rumours of a cabinet shuffle – one that could involve some big names. The biggest speculation has involved Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, who was criticized by opposition, media, and some in the Forces after overstating the role he played in planning a military operation in Afghanistan. With the Defence Policy Review being issued, it could be an opportunity to shuffle both Minister Sajjan and Minister Kent Hehr at Veterans Affairs and let new Ministers handle implementation.

As well, Minister Bardish Chagger continues to hold both the House Leader and Small Business Portfolios. Additionally, Minister Jim Carr holds his main portfolio of Natural Resources and is acting Minister for Public Service and Procurement Canada after Minister Judy Foote took a leave of absence for personal and family reasons.  Trudeau could choose to assign new Ministers to these portfolios, as well as shuffle out any cabinet minister who could decide not to run in the next election.
In terms of promotions, Mary Ng is a name frequently rising in conversations. The former Director of Appointments in the Prime Minister’s Office was elected in a by-election in Markham—Thornhill in April 2017. Her close ties to the Prime Minister may give her a leg-up, and she would increase female representation in cabinet as well as provide the Cabinet with a Chinese-Canadian presence, a community the Conservatives have heavily courted.

Big name Conservative Retirements to Test New Leaders

It would mostly be internal drama to watch in Rona Ambrose’s seat of Sturgeon River—Parkland, consisting of small towns and rural areas to the north and west of Edmonton.  This is an extremely safe Conservative seat (Ambrose won 70% of the vote in the 2015 election), so the main item of interest would likely be in the caliber of candidates Scheer could recruit in a riding where winning the Conservative nomination would be tantamount to election.

The race to replace Denis Lebel, who served as Quebec lieutenant and successfully oversaw an increase in Conservative vote and seats in the last election, could prove more interesting. Lebel received only 33% of the vote in his Lac-Saint-Jean seat, with the NDP in second at 28%, and the Bloc Quebecois and Liberals finishing both with 18.4%, setting up the potential for a four-way race. The Lac Saint Jean region has strong conservative and nationalist streaks, being held by the Bloc Quebecois from 1993 until Lebel’s 2007 by-election victory, with the Liberals not winning the seat or its predecessors since Pierre Trudeau’s near sweep of Quebec in 1980. The Liberals have a wide-lead in province wide-polling in Quebec, but would it be enough for a breakthrough in a seat they have not held in a generation and could not even gather 20% of the vote in in 2015?

The timing of the when the votes are called may also mean they will be a test for a new NDP leader, and for Martine Oullet, the Bloc Quebecois leader who was elected in March. Assuming both Ambrose and Lebel formally resign from the House after the House rises this week, by-elections would have to be called within 180 days, so the Prime Minister could call them over the summer, or put them off until the fall, potentially making them the first test for the NDP leader who will be elected in September. With the NDP finishing only 5% behind Lebel in 2015, as well as holding some neighbouring seats in the region, and the seat at one time being held by the Bloc Quebecois, it will be a useful mid-term test of the electorate in Francophone Quebec.

NAFTA Consultations

In late May, the U.S. administration notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The Government of Canada is inviting all interested persons to provide information and views on the update and modernization of NAFTA from a Canadian perspective. The purpose of these consultations is to identify key interests and concerns of Canadians with respect to NAFTA.

All interested parties are invited to submit their views by July 18, 2017. Please be advised that any information received as a result of this consultation will be considered as public information, unless explicitly stated otherwise.

Submissions should include

  1. the contributor’s name and address and, if applicable, the name of the contributor’s organization, institution or business;
  2. the specific issues being addressed; and
  3. precise information on the rationale for the positions taken, including any significant impact it may have on Canada’s domestic or international interests.

Contributions can be sent by email or mail to the following:
Email: NAFTA-Consultations-ALENA@international.gc.ca

For more information on NAFTA renegotiations, please contact your consultant.

Important Dates to Watch

Event: Date:
Submission for NAFTA Consultations Deadline July 18
Innovation Superclusters Letter of Intent Deadline July 21
Pre-Budget Consultation Submission Deadline Aug 4
Liberal Party of Canada national caucus retreat Early September
First round of NDP Leadership Voting Begins Sept 18
House Scheduled to Return for Fall Sitting Sept 18