- Prime Minister Trudeau announced a Parliamentary Secretary shuffle last Friday.
- This weekend, the Conservative Party of Canada held a virtual policy convention where Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole delivered the keynote address outlining the party’s path to victory come the next election. Focusing on the theme of “secure”, O’Toole pledged to restore one million jobs lost to the pandemic within a year, tougher ethics laws for politicians and lobbyists, new funding and a national strategy for mental health, and to beef up the domestic production of vaccines, other medicines and pandemic supplies.
- Last Friday, Prime Minister Trudeau confirmed reports that his government and the Biden administration are finalizing an exchange agreement whereby the United States will provide 1.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Canada as a loan.
- The AstraZeneca vaccine has been the subject of significant scrutiny in the media recently. Last Tuesday, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization recommended that the AstraZeneca vaccine be given to Canadians over the age of 65. While there were some concerns regarding the vaccine in Europe, Health Canada confirmed last Thursday that “the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine in protecting Canadians from COVID-19 continue to outweigh the risks.”
- Following the Royal Assent of Bill C-18 late last week, International Trade Minister Mary Ng announced that Canada is ratifying the Canada-United Kingdom Trade Continuity Agreement.
- Last Thursday, Prime Minister Trudeau announced that non-essential travel restrictions between Canada and the United States have been extended until April 21, 2021.
- Also last Thursday, Minister of Agriculture Marie-Claude Bibeau announced an investment of $185 million over the next 10 years for the new Agricultural Climate Solutions (ACS) program.
- During a speech last Tuesday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole stated that a Conservative government led by him would not cut foreign aid spending.
- Last Tuesday, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna launched public engagement on Canada’s first National Infrastructure Assessment. The government will be seeking feedback from stakeholders until June 30, 2021.
- The issue of sexual misconduct in the Canadian military continues to generate headlines as new developments emerge. Last week, Lt.-Col. Eleanor Taylor, the deputy commander of the 36th Brigade Group, condemned the Armed Forces for failing to address the systemic problem when announcing her resignation. In another recent development, the Standing Committee on the Status of Women met last week to discuss a request by committee members to study sexual misconduct within the Canadian Armed Forces. The issue is already being studied by the Standing Committee on National Defence.
In the House:
- The House returns today following a constituency week. After sitting for one week, there will be another two-week “break” and then we are into a long-haul of five consecutive sitting weeks. This is followed by a one-week break and then another (up to) five consecutive sitting weeks.
- Much of the week will be taken up by the final three allotted days or opposition days of the supply period. This means we won’t likely see much progress on the many pieces of government legislation that sit at second reading.
- Today, MPs will debate an NDP opposition motion aimed at removing profit from long-term care.
- Tuesday and Thursday are Conservative opposition days. The Conservatives currently have three opposition motions on the notice paper. One calls on the government to table “a clear data-driven plan to support safely, gradually and permanently lifting COVID-19 restrictions,” while the others deal with sexual misconduct in the military and conflict of interest.
- Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez hasn’t divulged what government bills will be called for debate this week (on Wednesday and Friday).
- The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (CHPC) will meet today to continue hearing from witnesses regarding Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Broadcasting Act and to make related and consequential amendments to other Acts. The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) will appear on Friday.
- The Standing Committee on Natural Resources (RNNR) will meet today regarding main and supplementary estimates. Minister O’Regan will appear.
- The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development (ENVI) will meet today to consider a draft report concerning zero-emission vehicles. The committee will also begin drafting instructions for a report regarding the enforcement of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.
- The Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN) will meet today to continue studying sexual misconduct issues in the Canadian Armed Forces.
- The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans (FOPO) will meet today to consider a draft report regarding the implementation of Mi’kmaq treaty fishing rights to support a moderate livelihood.
- The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs (INAN) will meet today regarding main and supplementary estimates. Ministers Bennett, Vandal and Miller will appear. The committee will also meet tomorrow to hear from witnesses regarding Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
- The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration (CIMM) will meet today. In addition to committee business, they will consider a draft report concerning the impact of COVID-19 on the immigration system and will draft instructions for a report on special immigration measures for the people of Hong Kong.
- The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology (INDU) will meet tomorrow to continue studying support for the aerospace industry.
- The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-food (AGRI) will meet tomorrow to consider their draft report on processing capacity.
- The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST) will meet tomorrow to discuss Bill C-218, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (sports betting). This bill will also be on the agenda when the committee meets again on Thursday.
- The Subcommittee on International Human Rights of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (SDIR) will meet tomorrow to examine the role of the Canadian Ombudsperson for Responsible Enterprise. Minister Ng will appear.
- The Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) will meet tomorrow for a clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-14, An Act to implement certain provisions of the economic statement tabled in Parliament on November 30, 2020 and other measures.
- The Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) will meet tomorrow to continue hearing from witnesses regarding the Canada Infrastructure Bank.
- Last Thursday, the Premiers of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador announced that the “Atlantic Bubble” will be restored by April 19, 2021. This will allow residents of the Atlantic provinces to travel within the region without needing to self-isolate for 14 days.
- Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will deliver the 2021 Ontario Budget this Wednesday. According to the government, the budget will “support the province’s comprehensive vaccine distribution plan, along with providing additional resources for the health care sector and initiatives to protect the economic well-being of families, workers and employers.”
- Premier Ford continues to call on the federal government to provide an increased and reliable supply of COVID-19 vaccines. On Friday, he announced that the Ontario government is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective today. He also announced that people aged 60 and over can now book pharmacy appointments to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
- British Columbia’s Special Committee to Review the Personal Information Protection Act will be holding a new round of public consultations in light of Bill C-11’s proposed changes to the federal act(s). The Committee’s consultation, expected to take place this summer, will focus on the provisions in Bill C-11 and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), as well as on the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia’s recommendations to the Committee. The Committee must present its report, including any recommendations, to the Legislative Assembly by December 8, 2021.
- The Quebec government will unveil its budget for the 2021-2022 year on March 25. Eric Girard, Minister of Finance, has said the forthcoming Budget will enable the province to continue efforts to manage the health crisis, offer individuals and businesses support, and revive the economy.