Canada: government & governance 43rd Parliament

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Prime Minister Justin Trudeau
House of Commons
Canada: government & governance 2019

Report finds MPs vote with own party 99.6 per cent of the time, warns of unhealthy partisanship
An independent analysis of the last Parliament found MPs voted with their own party 99.6 per cent of the time and displayed unhealthy levels of partisanship, polarization and hostility.

In its latest report on parliamentary trends, the Samara Centre for Democracy spoke with MPs who sat in the House the Commons between 2015 and 2019. The centre also conducted a detailed analysis of voting trends, government tactics and the length of time MPs spent debating legislation.

It said the level of party loyalty in Canada is “extreme” when compared with the British Parliament, where MPs are “notably more rebellious.”

Looking at government tactics in the House of Commons, the report noted that the Liberal government continued a controversial practice of the previous, Conservative government: introducing large “omnibus” bills that can be hard for MPs to review properly.

13 January
Harry and Meghan, and why members of the Royal Family can’t live in Canada
(Globe & Mail editorial) Britain is the inventor of one of the world’s great innovations in government: a monarchy that reigns but does not rule. Canada took that system and improved it, by pushing it one step further. The Canadian monarchy is virtual; it neither rules nor resides. Our royals don’t live here. They reign from a distance. Close to our hearts, far from our hearths.
On Monday, the British paper the Evening Standard reported that sources had told it that Ottawa had agreed to pay for security costs for the soon-to-arrive royal couple. When asked, Finance Minister Bill Morneau told reporters that was untrue, and that his government had not even discussed the matter. The dollars and cents of supporting a royal resident might be significant, but that’s not what’s really at issue. It goes deeper than the possibility of the feds having to find a few million extra bucks.
Canadians like their monarchy, and visits by the Queen and other members of the Royal Family tend to produce outpourings of public enthusiasm. But while the people who embody the Crown pay visits from time to time, they don’t set up a home on the premises. A royal living in this country does not accord with the long-standing nature of the relationship between Canada and Britain, and Canada and the Crown.

9 January
Is Justin Trudeau eyeing the exits?
By Konrad Yakabuski
Even with a majority, Mr. Trudeau was the most risk-averse prime minister in memory. Apart from the Canada Child Benefit and a tentative move toward carbon pricing, nothing Mr. Trudeau did during his first term was very ambitious. There were lots of earnest declarations but precious little in the way of transformative policy.
Granted, Mr. Trudeau was never a policy wonk. Now, however, he appears to have grown tired of politics, too. The country is dangerously divided; perhaps he has concluded that he cannot do much about that. He has shown none of the passion of a Prime Minister determined to reconquer the hearts of Canadians, one selfie at a time, during a second term.
Meanwhile, there are a slew of tough files on his desk that he must be dreading. For starters, he must decide whether to approve Teck Resource’s Frontier oil-sands project and whether to ban Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei from Canadian 5G networks. There will be no easy way to spin either of those decisions. But that’s what governing is all about.
Prescient Liberals are already talking about Mr. Trudeau’s replacement, with one name above all others on their lips – and no, it’s not Ms. Freeland’s. Departing Bank of England Governor Mark Carney is returning to Ottawa within weeks. For many Liberals, it won’t be a moment too soon.

23 December
Trudeau keeps the jets, Freeland does the work (video)
Freeland will be doing all the hard stuff for this government, while Trudeau poses for pictures.

16 December
Campbell Clark: Trudeau takes steps to insulate himself from political risk
Justin Trudeau has set up his second-term government like a leader who realizes he just had a narrow escape. He has created rows and rows of defensive barriers between the Prime Minister and political risk.
During his first term, Mr. Trudeau made himself the face of virtually everything his government did. Everything, seemingly, came from the PMO: Mr. Trudeau in front, and behind the scenes, his two senior advisers, Gerald Butts and Katie Telford, orchestrated it all. But that meant every problem, and every mistake, was at the top.
Now, a new operating procedure is taking shape. Ministers will be seen handling files and speaking to issues more, and Mr. Trudeau less. There will be layers of insulation between the Prime Minister and any misstep.

13 December
Speedier airport screening, universal pharmacare: Trudeau hands cabinet ministers their to-do lists
Mandate letters guide policy objectives, governing style for minority government
Trudeau issued mandate letters to each of his ministers Friday, outlining the key policy objectives each minister is tasked with as well as the overarching goals of the government. The ministers’ to-do lists mirror the promises in the Liberal election campaign platform, with its goals of making life more affordable, strengthening the health care system, fighting climate change and promoting reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
“It is more important than ever for Canadians to unite and build a stronger, more inclusive and more resilient country,” reads the opening of the letters.
“The government of Canada is the central institution to promote that unity of purpose and, as a Minister in that Government, you have a personal duty and responsibility to fulfill that objective.”
Deputy Prime Minister and Intergovernmental Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland has been handed the most critical and wide-ranging job; she’s tasked with working across cabinet to advance the government’s agenda and working with provinces and territories on health care, climate change action and gun control measures.
In each letter, Trudeau directed ministers to turn to him as well as Freeland “early and often” for support in their roles.
Chrystia Freeland is now the minister for almost everything
When Freeland was announced as the new deputy prime minister and intergovernmental affairs minister, it wasn’t obvious what she would be doing, beyond perhaps shuttling between provincial capitals to broker peace with recalcitrant premiers.
With the release of her mandate letter on Friday, it’s now clear what files Freeland will be involved with: nearly all of them.

12 – 13 December
This could be ugly
New Speaker says he’ll evict Wilson-Raybould if she doesn’t leave willingly
While Wilson-Raybould said she would like to stay where she is, Rota said it’s not up to her.
“There’s a minister who wants to go in there and that minister has the right to go in because it’s been chosen as his office,” he said. “As an Independent, unfortunately, [Wilson-Raybould] is at the bottom of the list or near the bottom of the list.”
Jody Wilson-Raybould is refusing to move out of her entire ministerial office suite
Wilson-Raybould said she invited Algonquin Elder Claudette Commanda to bless the offices after her swearing-in following the October election. … Commanda said the ceremony to cleanse and bless the office also included a prayer for Wilson-Raybould to keep her office space. … Commanda said Wilson-Raybould wanted to respect the fact Ottawa sits on unceded Algonquin land and she wanted an Algonquin elder to conduct the ceremony to help her prepare for the opening of Parliament.
Wilson-Raybould’s supporters made the office dispute an issue at last week’s meeting of the Assembly of First Nations.

12 December
The list of possibles is a long one.
Who’s next? Conservative speculation about Scheer’s replacement breaks into the open
Leadership talk has been simmering since the election. On Thursday, it boiled over.
Since the Conservative Party’s near-miss in the October election, most prospective candidates have held back on revealing their ambitions. Now that Scheer’s made the decision to quit, the rumour mill is grinding away louder than before.
An internal party review of the Conservatives’ election performance is underway. Many within the party have already pointed to Scheer’s leadership as the prime factor in the party’s defeat.
Conservative commentator Geoff Norquay said the next leader must have a national vision that resonates with voters in urban areas, women and Canadians concerned about climate change.
The next step in the leadership contest is for the Conservative Party’s National Council to form a leadership election organizing committee, which will decide on the rules, procedures, process and timelines for the contest, said party spokesman Cory Hann.
The Conservatives already have a policy convention scheduled for April in Toronto, but it’s not clear if that could also serve as the forum to pick a new leader. Conservative caucus backs Scheer as interim leader amid private school backlash
Prime Minister welcomes new parliamentary secretaries
The Prime Minister will soon release an updated version of Open and Accountable Government, which sets out his expectations for Cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries, as well as their roles and responsibilities. The updated guide will also clarify the role of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, incorporating recommendations made by the Honourable Anne McLellan in her recent report on the issue.
In March 2019, the Prime Minister sought advice from former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada Anne McLellan on the relationship between the federal government and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. Her review of the roles of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada was published in August 2019.

10 December
Trudeau’s minority Liberal government survives first confidence vote
Confidence vote passes 205-116, but opposition win vote to compel Liberals to study China at committee
Justin Trudeau’s Liberals survived Tuesday their first test of confidence in the House of Commons but got a pointed reminder of how opposition parties can still make life complicated for a minority government.
The motion authorizes the committee to order the prime minister, Foreign Affairs Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Canada’s ambassador to China, Dominic Barton, to appear as witnesses “from time to time as the committee sees fit.”
But while that could tie up Trudeau and his ministers and dwell on sensitive diplomatic and trade conflicts with China that the Liberals would prefer to deal with outside the public spotlight, they will at least get to continue governing.
The Liberals, with the support of all opposition MPs but the Conservatives and one Green MP, passed a series of votes on supplementary spending estimates. The estimates passed on a vote of 205-116, ensuring that previously planned government programs get the funding they need to operate.

9 December
After years of mixed messages, Trudeau signals he’s treating the Crown more seriously
(National Post) After nearly three years of leaving the post vacant, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has appointed a new Canadian secretary to the Queen, amid rumours of the Crown beginning preparations for its inevitable transition and the possibility of a Canadian royal tour next year.
Shortly after his government was first elected in 2015, Trudeau had removed the previous secretary, Kevin MacLeod who had been appointed by Trudeau’s predecessor Stephen Harper. Last month, Trudeau quietly appointed Donald Booth a long-time federal civil servant.
The secretary serves as the primary link between the federal cabinet and the Crown, providing information and advice, and is central to the organization of royal tours.

6 December
Andrew Coyne: The Liberals care about national unity, but they care more about winning a majority
(Globe & Mail) …the oddest part of the speech, in the wake of an election that revealed profound fears across much of the oil-producing West that the rest of Canada wants to put it out of business, notably by blocking the construction of pipelines to markets east and west, is that the government could not bring itself, in the whole of the vice-regal address, to mention the West, or pipelines, or oil. Not even once.
… it talked about all of these things, only without naming them. Instead of Alberta or Saskatchewan or the West, it referred to certain “regions”; the grievances feeding the worst outburst of western rage in decades it called “local needs.” For oil, there was “Canada’s natural resources,” and for pipelines, “getting Canadian resources to new markets.”

5 December

Throne speech promises tax cut, climate action and ban on military-style firearms
In 28-minute address, Liberal government calls on MPs to work across party lines in minority Parliament
(CBC) In a throne speech promising new efforts to tackle climate change, make life more affordable and impose a ban on “military-style” firearms, the Liberal government today called on members of Parliament to work across party lines to solve some of the country’s most pressing issues.
The first throne speech since the election — which saw voters return Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Liberals to power in a minority government — struck a conciliatory tone.
The government signalled it will take up issues championed by the opposition parties — like tax-free parental benefits and a crackdown on money laundering — alongside its own ambitious agenda for progressive reform.
“While your approaches may differ, you share the common belief that government should try, whenever possible, to make life better for Canadians,” said Gov. Gen. Julie Payette, reading the prepared text of the throne speech.
“Some believe that minority governments are incapable of getting things done. But Canada’s history tells us otherwise.”
On the national unity front, the speech acknowledged the growing restlessness in Alberta and Saskatchewan at a time of depressed oil and gas prices and constrained pipeline capacity.
Thursday’s 28-minute address, titled “Moving Forward Together,” included a promise to “find solutions” to help those two western provinces, and oil-rich Newfoundland and Labrador, weather the oil price slump.
While the Governor General delivers the remarks, the text itself is written by the Prime Minister’s Office. However, Payette added some personal remarks to the speech. The PMO confirmed the first 11 paragraphs of the speech were the Governor General’s “preamble.” Payette, a former astronaut, said Canadians must work together in collaboration because “we are inextricably bound to the same space-time continuum and on board the same planetary spaceship.”
Tories, NDP won’t support throne speech but Bloc will back Liberals’ agenda if it comes to vote
The Throne Speech: More will be done
Paul Wells: If the Liberals’ goal was to be deliberately vague, well, the Trudeau team’s speechwriters absolutely nailed it
(Global) Climate change, healing regional divides key planks for Trudeau Liberals in Throne Speech

Liberal MP Anthony Rota elected Speaker of the House of Commons
(CBC) Liberal MP Anthony Rota will preside over the new minority Parliament as the new Speaker of the House of Commons.
Rota beat four other candidates in a vote this morning, including caucus colleague Geoff Regan, who was Speaker during the last session of Parliament and had wished to stay on.
Rota, who represents Nipissing-Timiskaming, choked up while talking about the honour of being the first Canadian of Italian descent to sit in the Speaker’s chair and gave a shout-out to his daughter, who was finishing her university exams today.

19 November
Aaron Wherry: For better or worse, Trudeau’s next 4 years are going to be about climate change
It was the sleeper issue of the election campaign – and it’s driving a wedge between East and West
He is unlikely to emerge from the result of the October 21 election as a wholly different person. He’s surely still the same complicated figure he was before this fall’s campaign. He is also still the prime minister.
But things have changed. His government’s situation, his public standing and the demands upon him are different now. And the aftermath of an election offers a natural pivot point, a chance to take stock of what’s been and adjust for what’s to come.
When last we heard from the prime minister at any length (nearly a month ago), he was talking about taking some time to “reflect.”
He has not yet reported back with the fruits of that reflection. In fact, his public appearances have been relatively limited since election night.
There was no rah-rah speech to supporters the day after the election, as there was in 2015. There was no Halloween photo-op appearance in costume with his kids. In 2015, he gave himself just 16 days to set up a new government. This time, he has taken nearly a month.

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