Return of the HoC

As the House of Commons resumes today, a lot has changed since Canada’s members of Parliament last sat in June, including the addition of five new MPs elected in by-elections who will take their seats for the first time. July also saw a large cabinet shuffle with seven new ministers appointed and a total of 30 ministers in changed roles, which means there will be a very different lineup when Question Period resumes. 

Over the summer, a lot of attention has been paid to shifting polling numbers that have found the incumbent Liberals falling behind Pierre Poilievre’s Conservatives, which means Prime Minister Justin Trudeau comes back to Parliament with some pressure from his caucus regarding ways to boost his party’s popularity. Opposition Leader Poilievre will be eager to keep building the momentum his party developed over the summer, and the Bloc Quebecois, NDP and Green Party will be looking to show how they are advancing the issue their voters care most about.  

Poilievre’s messaging over the summer has been primarily focused on cost-of-living and affordability issues, especially housing, which continues to be top of mind for Canadians. This means that there will be continued and increasing scrutiny on Sean Fraser, the new Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities. New measures to address housing and affordability concerns were signaled during last week’s Liberal caucus meeting where Prime Minister Trudeau announced new policies such as the removal of federal sales taxes on construction of new rental apartments and that he will be meeting with grocery CEOs to demand immediate action to stabilize grocery prices. 

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has also been frequently highlighting housing challenges in recent weeks, with a particular focus on the challenges facing Canadians in the rental market. The NDP has noted their intention to use the leverage of their confidence and supply agreement, their negotiated longer term support of the Liberals in the House of Commons, to push for a variety of measures on housing, including another top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit and more support for social housing. 

The NDP will also be watching to see if the Liberals follow through on other elements of the NDP-Liberal deal, such as the promise that the government will introduce and pass legislation implementing a national pharamacare program by the end of the year. Another priority point in the agreement is the commitment to pass legislation banning replacement workers in federally regulated industries, which the NDP will also be looking to see progress on this fall. 

With the Conservatives expected to remain focused on the issues related to affordability and community safety, there will be significant  attention on Finance Minister and Deputy Premier Chrystia Freeland’s Fall Economic Statement later this fall. Freeland will have to juggle competing pressures to offer new initiatives to address growing cost-of-living concerns while demonstrating a commitment to fiscal responsibility. The new Treasury Board President, Anita Anand, will have to navigate this challenge and oversee the plan to find $15 billion in savings across the government. 

Along with the previously noted legislation on pharmacare, replacement workers and the Fall Fiscal Update, the government legislative agenda will include trying to complete a study of several pieces of legislation. This includes the high-profile gun control legislation Bill C-21, now in the Senate; Bill C-27, which will create new regulations for consumer data and artificial intelligence; Bill C-34, which will tighten the requirements for foreign investment reviews in the Canada Investment Act and C-48 which will bring reforms to the bail system that provinces have been asking for. 

Some indications of what future legislation we will likely see in the coming months will come when the new mandate letters for cabinet members are released in the coming weeks. The recent shuffle has meant that many ministers have been most recently preoccupied with getting briefed on their files and staffing their offices but are now starting to return to a focus on policymaking. 

The government will also be active on the regulatory side, with a number of significant regulations being promised before the end of the year. These include Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault’s plan to introduce a hard cap on GHG emissions from the oil & gas sector, which is likely to cause tension with some provincial governments, additional regulations on the use of plastic by retailers, and the CRTC’s regulations for the Online News Act which will impact how Canadians access news online.  

As always in a minority government, there will be increased speculation about when the next election will be, though with slumping polling numbers for the Liberals and the NDP positioning to secure large concessions from their deal with the governing party, it appears unlikely that this fall will see a snap writ drop absent a big surprise. Instead, we can expect to see all parties in the House of Commons working to position themselves for whenever the election does arrive as they fight over the mantle of who has the best plan to address the challenges facing Canadians.

To learn more about how this fall’s upcoming sitting may impact your organization, please reach out to our advisors here.

Wellington Advocacy is a national full-service government relations, strategic communications and digital mobilization firm committed to helping organizations navigate the complex world of public policy and government relations. With a team of top political professionals and seasoned experts across Canada, Wellington Advocacy offers a proven track record of success and tailored solutions that drive positive outcomes for its clients.


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