This Week In Ottawa June 2, 2023

Top news

  • Despite the House of Commons endorsing an NDP motion this week that called for David Johnston to step down from his position as special rapporteur, the government and Mr. Johnston rejected the motion’s demand and said he would continue with his plans to conduct hearings on the dealing with foreign interference in the fall.  
  • During the debate on the NDP motion, former Conservative leader Erin O’Toole raised a point of privilege based on the briefing from CSIS in which he was informed that he had been a target of Chinese interference. The Speaker found that his new allegations could be studied by the ongoing study at PROC looking at the issues raised by MP Michael Chong. That committee heard testimony this week from several officials, including Jody Thomas, the PM’s national security and intelligence advisor, who blamed the failure to communicate intelligence on China’s target of Chong as a function of a “breakdown” in information sharing.
  • This week saw a major turnover announced in the federal public service, starting with the news that Clerk of the Privy Council Janice Charrette will retire on June 24th and be replaced by John Hannaford, currently serving as the Deputy Minister of Natural Resources. The government also announced a shuffle of several high-level public servants, including the official acknowledgement that Finance Deputy Minister Michael Sabia’s final day in the department is today as he leaves the federal government to join Hydro-Quebec. His replacement has not yet been announced.
  • The federal government has approved Nova Scotia’s request for assistance from the Canadian Armed Forces as the province deals with the serious wildfire situation it is facing.

Government announcements

  • Minister Gould announced the launch of the $755M Social Finance Fund. The program is meant to provide flexible financing options to social purpose organizations and helps to leverage private capital investment in initiatives that will advance Canada’s efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals.
  • The Federal and Nova Scotia governments have created the Progress Monitoring Committee as recommended by the final report of the Mass Casualty Commission, which called for an independent body to review progress on implementing its recommendations.
  • Minister Bennett announced that Canada would implement new regulations requiring warning labels on every cigarette. The new requirements will be phased into effect on August 1, 2023.
  • Minster Fraser announced the government is launching category-based selection for the Express Entry immigration program. The priority categories for the coming year will be those with strong French language skills or work experience in healthcare, science, technology, engineering, and professional trades, such as carpenters, plumbers and contractors, transport, and agriculture and agri-food.
  • The Competition Bureau has posted its new enforcement guidelines on wage-fixing and “no poaching” agreements to implement the new criminal code offence created by amendments to the Competition Act that ban employers from agreeing to try to fix wages or refrain from higher each other’s employees.
  • Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the first Friday of June each year will be proclaimed the National Day Against Gun Violence.
  • Catherine Tait has been re-appointed as President and CEO of CBC/Radio Canada with an 18-month extension until  the end of 2024, during which the government intends to run a selection process to identify her replacement.  
  • The government announced new details of the $95.8M in funding allocated in Budget 2023 to support Indigenous families seeking to access information and support about murdered and missing loved ones.
  • During his visit to Chad, Minister Sajjan announced $39.8M in new gender-responsive humanitarian assistance that will be given to the UN and NGOs providing humanitarian aid in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.

In the House of Commons

  • Bill C-9: The Senate returned the revisions to the Judges Act to the House with amendments.
  • Bill C-42: The government’s bill to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act was approved at 2nd reading the House.
  • Bill C-49: This Bill to amend the federal agreements with Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia regarding off-shore energy production including an expansion of the jurisdiction of off-shore oil regulators to also cover renewable energy projects was introduced in the House.
  • S-5: The government’s revision of the Canada Environmental Act passed at 3rd reading in the House with amendments returning the bill to the Senate to vote on the House’s changes.
  • Bill C-244: MP Wilson Miao’s bill An Act to amend the Copyright Act (diagnosis, maintenance and repair) was approved at report stage.  
  • Bill C-281: MP Philip Lawrence’s bill to strengthen the Magnitsky Act was approved at Report stage.
  • A Conservative opposition day motion calling for the government to end its safe supply program and invest in treatment for opioid addiction instead was rejected by the House with all other parties voting against it.
  • The government has announced its intent to amend the standing orders to make hybrid Parliament permanent.  This is likely to lead to a contentious debate as the Conservatives and BQ have been critical of allowing MPs to continue to participate remotely while the NDP and Liberals have been advocating the practice been made permanent as a way of giving MPs more flexibility.
  • Liberal House Leader Mark Holland said he expects the House will be doing late night sittings daily until the House rises for the summer as the government attempts to advance as much legislation before the break.

Economic numbers of the week

  • 0.8%: Statistics Canada reported that Canada saw a 0.8% boost in GDP in the first quarter of 2023 bouncing back from the last quarter of 2022 when the GDP rate was flat. This growth rate was higher than expected which has led to some speculation the Bank of Canada will have to raise interest rates again.  

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