- Both the Liberals and NDP gathered for their virtual party conventions this past weekend.
- The policy narrative coming out of the Liberal convention was focused on childcare and the green economic recovery – telegraphing likely budget priorities. Hawkish Liberal convention watchers were also treated to a campaign-style speech from Prime Minister Trudeau, in which he called on party activists to redouble their efforts to ensure electoral victory over the “disconnected” Erin O’Toole conservatives.
- Meanwhile, the NDP carefully toed the line between election readiness and election wariness. Jagmeet Singh faced his second leadership review vote on Sunday and received the support of 83% of delegates.
- Last Wednesday, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland held a virtual meeting with her American counterpart, Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen. According to a government readout, Freeland highlighted Canada’s close friendship with the U.S. while also expressing concern over the Biden administrations’ “Buy American” policy. The two also spoke about the arbitrary detention of Canada’s Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in China. Another likely topic of discussion (though conspicuously absent from the readout) is the spectre of U.S. retaliation over Canada’s proposed unilateral tax on digital services, which is expected to be addressed in the upcoming federal budget.
- Meanwhile, the Trudeau government continues to hold off on reopening the Canada-U.S. border, which has now been closed to non-essential traffic for more than a year. Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Dominic Leblanc has argued that it remains too early to have a conversation about reopening the border but hopes that discussions will resume once Canada’s vaccination numbers go up.
- The Parliamentary Budget Officer (PBO) released its latest analysis of a national guaranteed basic income on Wednesday. According to the PBO report, a national guaranteed basic income would cost $85 billion in 2021-22 while potentially cutting Canada’s poverty levels nearly in half.
- Official Opposition Leader Erin O’Toole promised last week that a Conservative government would call a public inquiry into the Trudeau government’s pandemic response. Building on last month’s report by Canada’s Auditor General, O’Toole’s criticism is targeted at the government’s lack of preparedness, as well as its handling of vaccine procurement and border closures.
In the House
- The House is back in full swing today following two break weeks. MPs will now sit for an uninterrupted five weeks.
- Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland will present Budget 2021 — Canada’s first in two years and her first since taking over as Finance Minister — next Monday, April 19.
- Minister Wilkinson is expected to introduce new legislation to update the Canadian Environmental Protection Act (CEPA) today.
- Legislation currently at the report stage includes Bills C-14 (Economic Statement Implementation Act) and C-218 (Safe and Regulated Sports Betting Act).
- Aside from budget debate, we expect the government to prioritize the following legislation over the coming weeks:
- C-12, An Act respecting transparency and accountability in Canada’s efforts to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by the year 2050
- C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
- C-19, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (COVID-19 response)
- C-21, An Act to amend certain Acts and to make certain consequential amendments (firearms)
- Notable mention: despite growing calls from Canadian industry to see progress, we are not expecting further debate on Bill C-11, the Digital Charter Implementation Act
- Minister of Public Safety Bill Blair, Minister of Justice David Lametti, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki, and officials from Public Safety, Justice and the RCMP, will all be appearing today at the Standing Committee on Access to Information, Privacy and Ethics as they continue their study of Pornhub.
- The Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage will meet today to consider a draft report regarding challenges faced by the arts, culture, heritage and sports sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. The committee is set to begin clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-10 on Friday.
- The Standing Committee on Natural Resources will meet today to continue hearing from witnesses about critical minerals and associated value chains in Canada.
- The Standing Committee on Health will meet today to continue studying the “emergency situation facing Canadians in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- The Standing Committee on Environment and Sustainable Development will meet today to begin a study of single-use plastics.
- The Special Committee on Canada-China Relations will meet today to hear from additional witnesses regarding Canada-China relations. Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan will appear.
- The Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans will meet today to consider a draft report concerning Mi’kmaq treaty fishing rights to support a moderate livelihood.
- The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology will meet tomorrow for their first meeting of a new study on competitiveness in Canada.
- The Standing Committee on Agriculture and Agri-Food will meet tomorrow to consider a draft report on processing capacity.
- The Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs will meet tomorrow to continue hearing from witnesses regarding Bill C-15, An Act respecting the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. National Chief Perry Bellegarde will appear.
- Facing a third wave of COVID-19 infections and with ICU admissions at an all-time high, Premier Doug Ford tightened Ontario’s lockdown restrictions twice last week. Beginning last Thursday, the province entered a state of emergency and four-week stay-at-home order.
- Last Thursday, Premier François Legault announced that his government will reinstate the 8:00 pm curfew and shut down schools in Montreal and Laval amidst growing case numbers.
- Lockdown measures in Quebec City, Lévis, and Gatineau have also been extended until April 19.
- Long-time Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi announced that he will not be seeking re-election in October, prompting speculation about a possible run for federal office.
- UCP leader and Alberta premier Jason Kenney is facing a caucus revolt over COVID restrictions and continues to face pressure on both his left and right flanks. Read more on this below.
- There is a speech from the throne today in British Columbia, setting the Horgan government’s agenda ahead of next week’s provincial budget (April 20th). This will be the Horgan government’s first budget since winning their majority mandate in the October provincial election.
- Last week, Nova Scotia removed its 14-day self-isolation requirement for people travelling from Newfoundland and Labrador. The province has also permitted malls, retail stores, and gyms to return to 100% capacity.
- aNewfoundland & Labrador Premier Andrew Furey appointed his new cabinet last week.