This Week In Ottawa March 10, 2023

Top news

  • Under growing pressure to take steps on foreign interference, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a number of new steps on Monday, including a request that the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians and National Security and Intelligence Review Agency open up new reviews into how Canadian intelligence services handled allegations of foreign interference and a promise to appoint a Special Rapporteur to make recommendation including whether he should call a public inquiry into the matter.
  • The announcement was greeted with skepticism by opposition parties who continue to call for a public inquiry and to call the PM’s chief of staff, Katie Telford, to testify at the House of Common’s PROC hearings into the issue. Liberal MPs filibustered multiple meetings this week to prevent the motion calling for her testimony from being voted on. The committee is scheduled to return next Tuesday.
  • Former cabinet minister Marc Garneau announced his resignation as MP for the Quebec riding of Notre-Dame-de-Grâce—Westmount on Wednesday. He had served as an MP since 2008, including in cabinet as Minister of Transport and Minister of Global Affairs.
  • Today, Minister Freeland announced that the Federal Budget will be tabled on March 28th.
  • Minister Lametti met today with his provincial counterparts to discuss the demands by the provinces for changes to Canada’s bail system. 
  • The Supreme Court acknowledged this week that Justice Russell Brown has been on paid leave since the begging of February because of an on-going investigation by the Judicial Council. Media reports indicate the issue in question relates to an altercation at a resort in Arizona. Justice Brown has issued a statement strongly denying the claims made about him. 

 Government announcements

  • Minister Wilkinson has announced $344M in funding to support five new programs to support Canada’s critical mineral sector.
  • Today, Minister Mendocino opened consultations on a Foreign Influence Transparency Registry. The consultation seeks input on the scope of activities requiring registration, what should be exempt, and what the penalties for breaking the law should be. The consultations will be open until May 9th.
  • Minister Duclos has announced that the federal government will deduct $82M from the Canadian Health Transfers to 8 provinces over patient charges for medically necessary services. The services noted were primarily diagnostic imaging which accounts for $76M. He warned provinces that he will look at imposing more penalties for things such as service fees for virtual or telehealth products. 
  • The Department of National Defence has opened consultations on a Defence Policy Update
  • Minister Sajjan announced $157.6M in new humanitarian funding at the United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries (LDC5) held in Doha, Qatar.
  • The CRTIC has launched a review of its approach to internet services competition and ordered an immediate 10% reduction to some internet wholesale rates. It is reviewing whether companies should be ordered to allow competitors access to their fibre-to-the-home networks and other measures that could encourage more competition.

In Parliament

  • Bill C-11: The government has officially rejected several of the amendments made by the Senate to the legislation that would regulate internet streaming services. This means that the bill will have to return to the Senate for concurrence before it becomes law.
  • Bill C-39: This bill to delay the extension of Medical Assistance in Dying to people suffering from mental illness by a year was approved by the Senate and received Royal Assent.
  • C-41: The government has introduced legislation that would allow the Minister of Public Safety to authorize activities in areas controlled by terrorist groups which are currently illegal. The change is meant to allow aid groups to provide humanitarian aid in Afghanistan, which they have been unable to do since the Taliban took over.  
  • Bill C-224: An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting passed 3rd Reading in the House with unanimous support from all MP.
  • Bill C-232: This bill to create an Arab Heritage Month passed 3rd reading in the House.  
  • MPs rejected an NDP motion critical of Ontario’s proposed healthcare changes by a margin of 298-26, with only the Green MPs supporting it.

Economic numbers of the week

  • 22,000: The Labour Force Survey for February reported that Canada saw 22,000 net new jobs created with the unemployment rate remaining steady at 5.0%.

Coming Up

  • US President Joe Biden will visit Ottawa on March 23-24.
  • The Federal Budget will be tabled on March 28.

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