What we’re watching
- The federal government is continuing to evaluate and update their response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine. On Saturday, Canada and allied nations agreed to expel certain Russian banks from SWIFT, the high-security network that connects thousands of financial institutions around the world. On Sunday, it was announced that all Russian aircraft operators have been banned from Canadian airspace and that Canada would be sending an additional $25 million in non-lethal military aid to the Ukraine.
- Later today, Prime Minister Trudeau will join a meeting hosted by President Biden, with the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Poland, Romania, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and NATO, to discuss Ukraine, after which he will join a debate in the House of Commons on Canada’s response to the situation in Ukraine, speaking at 6:30pm ET.
- The coming weeks will see a number of provinces drop some or all of their COVID-19 related restrictions and mandates, with Ontario, Quebec and many Atlantic provinces set to begin lifting proof of vaccination requirements followed by the lifting of masking requirements later in March. Aberta will be ending almost all public COVID restrictions, including mask mandates, on Tuesday, March 1st.
- It’s provincial budget season across the country, with BC, Alberta, and P.E.I presenting their respective budgets over the last week. Meanwhile, the Ontario PC government tabled legislation to shift the provincial budget deadline from March 31 to April 30, setting the stage for the budget to immediately precede the upcoming provincial election.
- Mary Ng, Minister of International Trade, Export Promotion, Small Business and Economic Development is in Washington, D.C., today to reinforce the importance of Canada’s strong partnership with the United States.
In the House
- The House returns today after a slightly abbreviated break that began on the 21st of February, directly after voting passing the Emergencies Act motion. MPs will sit for only this week before another two break weeks, returning again on Monday, March 21st.
- The House will resume second reading debate today on Bill C-11 (Online Streaming Act), and Tuesday will be a Conservative opposition day.
In the Senate
- With the Emergencies Act being revoked by the government on February 23rd, the motion for the consideration of the Act was withdrawn in the Senate.
- Two government bills which recently passed in the House are now making their way through the Senate, those being Bill C-10 (An Act respecting certain measures related to COVID-19) and C-12 (An Act to amend the Old Age Security Act (Guaranteed Income Supplement).
- There are also two government bills that were introduced in the Senate, Bill S-5 (Strengthening Environmental Protection for a Healthier Canada Act), and Bill S-4, (An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Identification of Criminals Act.) Both have yet to be debated at second reading.
- Interim Conservative party leader Candice Bergen announced changes to the opposition’s shadow cabinet this past week. Notable changes include Ed Fast taking over from Pierre Poilievre as Finance Critic, and Michelle Rempel Garner being dropped altogether, although she was appointed to the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians.
- Conservative Party leadership contender Pierre Poilievre announced on Thursday evening the four national campaign co-chairs for his leadership bid. They include Edmonton MP Tim Uppal, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird, Quebec Senator Leo Housakos and Former Minister of Fisheries and Oceans Gail Shea.
- The field of candidates is starting to take shape, with both Jean Charest and Patrick Brown said to be considering entering the fold.
- Dominic Leblanc is appearing alongside officials today at the Standing Committee on Transport, Infrastructure and Communities (TRAN) to discuss his mandate.
- Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) is continuing their study into the Situation at the Russia-Ukraine Border and Implications for Peace and Security. Bob Rae, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Canada to the United Nations in New York, had been added to today’s meeting.
- The Standing Committee on National Defence (NDDN) is continuing its Threat Analysis Affecting Canada and the CAF Operational Readiness.
- The Finance Committee will meet today to begin its clause-by-clause consideration of Bill C-8, an act to implement the economic and fiscal update tabled by Minister Freeland in December 2021.
- The Ethics Committee will continue its study on the collection and use of mobility data by the Public Health agency of Canada, with Michael Geist appearing as a witness at today’s meeting.
- Minister Rodriguez will be appearing this afternoon at the Standing Committee on Canadian Heritage (CHPC) as part of their study into Challenges Related to the Recovery of the Arts, Culture, Heritage, and Sport Sectors.
- On Tuesday Premier Ford announced that Ontario will be scrapping vehicle licence plate renewal fees and the requirement for drivers to have a licence plate sticker effective March 13. Ford stated that this measure will impact 7.5 million vehicle owners and return $1 billion to the Ontarian economy.
- Queens park reconvened last Monday for its spring session, however the Premier was not in attendance at the legislature.
- One of the first legislative acts of this new session was the unanimous passing of a motion calling on MPP Randy Hillier to issue a written apology to federal transport Minister Omar Alghabera, whom Hillier had called a “terrorist. Additionally, the legislature authorized the Speaker to not recognize Hillier until the apologies are delivered and they are deemed sincere.
- Tuesday also saw Associate Small Business and Red Tape Reduction Minister Nina Tangri table the session’s first piece of government legislation, Bill 84, Fewer Fees, Better Services Act, which is a red-tape cutting bill that Premier Doug Ford had hinted at earlier in the day as part of the government’s effort to cut the cost of living and doing business.
- On Wednesday NDP MPP Faisal Hassan introduced Bill 86, Our London Family Act, which aims to crack down on Islamophobia in Ontario. The bill was drafted in collaboration with the National Council of Canadian Muslims, and the Liberals and Greens have already pledged to support it. At a press conference earlier in the day, the NDP and Muslim groups called on the PCs to add their support.
- It was announced on Thursday that the Ontario Government is planning to introduce legislation later this month that would require employers to tell their workers if and how they are being monitored electronically.
- The third session of the 30th Alberta legislature opened with a speech from the throne delivered on Tuesday, possibly the last throne speech before the next provincial election in 2023.
- Thursday saw the release of the provincial budget, the first balanced budget since 2014, with a $511 million surplus. New spending highlights include $600 million to increase health care capacity, $600 million for workforce development and a $73 million investment in the tech sector.
- There also was a minor but notable cabinet shuffle on Friday, with Tyler Shandro becoming the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, Kaycee Madu returning to cabinet as Minister of Labour and Immigration and Sonya Savage being released from her double duty as acting Minister of Justice (continuing as Minister of Energy).
- BC Finance Minister Selina Robinson delivered the provincial budget on Tuesday. The 2022 Budget’s climate-focused investments are receiving accolades from environmental groups, but criticism remains for the NDP government’s continued support for the fossil fuel industry and old-growth logging.
- The Budget sees $1 billion in new funding over three years for CleanBC in Budget 2022, this being roughly double last year’s funding increase. This funding includes $9 million over three years to expand the Low Carbon Fuel Standard, $30 million for active transportation and $3 million to develop new energy efficiency standards for space and water heating systems, and for home energy efficiency
- Nova Scotia Premiere Tim Houston announced on Wednesday that the province would be dropping all COVID-19 related restrictions by March 21 if “everything stays on course”.
- P.E.I Premier Dennis King announced Wednesday that the province will scrap its COVID-19 vaccine passport system on February 28th. Also starting that day, non-vaccinated travellers entering P.E.I. will not be required to isolate.
- The P.E.I budget was presented last Thursday, which includes a total expenditure of almost $2.7 billion — a two-per-cent increase in program spending over last year — that would more than triple the provincial deficit to $92.9 million.
- Newfoundland and Labrador plans to remove all COVID-19 related restrictions by March 14.