Hill Update 2018

In the House

Last night both the House of Commons and the Senate adjourned for the winter break. This adjournment also signifies the last gathering in Centre Block for at least a decade.
Come January, the House of Commons will be located in West Block and the Senate will be housed in the former Government Conference Centre. The House will resume on January 28, 2019, but the Senate will not be sitting in the red chamber until February 21, 2019 due to acoustic problems – the upside, Senate proceedings will be televised! The senators will still resume their committee work in January despite the technical setback, and will sit longer during previously planned break weeks to make up for the lost time.
Although it seemed the House would rise on Wednesday, December 12, the Liberal government sat for one more day to push C-76 (Elections Modernization Act) through.
Yesterday Governor General Julie Payette visited the Senate to give Royal Assent to the following bills:

  • C-86, the second Budget Implementation Act for Budget 2018
  • C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act
  • C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code
  • C-76, Elections Modernization Act
  • C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act
  • C-90, Appropriation Act No. 3, 2018-19

The ceremony brings the total number of government bills passed to 24 for 2018, and a term total of 61.
When we resume in January, it will be a mad dash to see how many pieces of legislation the government will pass before the House rises for the summer ahead of the next federal election.
In the House, there are 28 bills at second reading that still require consideration in committee, as well as votes and consideration through the Senate. In the Senate, there are 4 bills in third reading and 10 government bills in consideration at committee for the New Year.

Government Investment Highlights

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland welcomed the modernized NAFTA – now USMCA (United States Mexico Canada Agreement), which will be referred to domestically as CUSMA. The modernized agreement preserves Canada’s preferential access to the U.S. and Mexican markets, ensuring that the vast majority of trilateral trade remains duty-free.
ISED Minister Navdeep Bains unveiled the Innovative Solutions Canada (ISC) program to challenge small businesses to innovate. Winning small businesses may receive up to $150,000 to refine their research and development and, if accepted into Phase 2, receive up to $1 million to develop a working prototype.
Minister Navdeep Bains also kicked all of the government’s superclusters in to high gear this fall. There are 5 superclusters across the country: Digital Technology based in British Columbia, Protein Industries in the prairies, Advanced Manufacturing in Ontario, SCALE.AI in Quebec, and the Ocean supercluster in the Atlantic.
The federal government also invested nearly $6.3 million to support six AI businesses in their efforts to scale up and expand into new markets, creating close to 1,000 jobs in the industry.
As part of the Atlantic Growth Strategy, the feds also invested in Indigenous-led economic development in partnership with the Mi’kmaq First Nation in the Atlantic.
And just last week, the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security released the first Canadian National Cyber Threat Assessment. Cybercrime is the cyber threat most likely to affect Canadians and Canadian businesses in 2019 and the government is seeking proactive solutions ahead of the election.

2019 Federal Election

First things first – by-elections. There are currently 3 vacant seats in the House – Outremont QC, York–Simcoe ON, and Burnaby South BC. Although no official date has been set, the Burnaby South by-election date will be in February, with the remaining two by-elections to take place perhaps at the same time or later next spring.
There is also the question of MPs who may resign between now and the election – Nicola Di Iorio of Saint-Léonard–Saint-Michel is set to resign on the convenient date of January 22, the date after which no by-elections will be called. We still await the final word on whether Raj Grewal (Brampton East) will resign in the New Year.
The main focus for the parties is nominating their 2019 team. The Liberals have nominated the majority of their incumbents – but not all – as they fulfill their promise of open nominations if MPs do not reach Party targets in fundraising and voter contact. Aside from incumbents, the Liberals have nominated just 5 additional candidates.
The Conservative Party has re-nominated all incumbent MPs who wish to run again, and have begun the nomination process for a few dozen other candidates. Trailing far behind is the NDP, where 1 in 6 incumbents are choosing not to run next year, and candidate recruitment has been lean.
We will be monitoring the development of each Party’s list of candidates and are looking forward to forthcoming platform commitments ahead of the campaign.

Happy Holidays
Capital Hill Group wishes you and yours the most joyous of holidays, and a Happy New Year.
See you in 2019!