This Week In Ottawa March 31, 2023

Top news

  • On Tuesday Minister Freeland tabled the 2023 federal budget. Wellington Advocacy has prepared an overview of the highlights and main considerations of the Budget that can be found here.
  • The Mass Casualty Commission released its final report into the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting and the police handling of the situation. The 7-volume report included 130 recommendations many of which regard calls for a major overhaul of the RCMP, its culture and operations. It also recommended the development of more clear guidelines on the relationship between the RCMP and the federal government.
  • Today Minister Champagne announced he has approved the transfer of the Freedom Mobile’s wireless spectrum licenses from Shaw to Videotron clearing the final obstacle to the merger of the Rogers  and Shaw. Rogers and Videotron owner Quebecor have agreed to 21 legally binding commitments as part of the approval.
  • Former Conservative Party Leader Erin O’Toole announced this morning that he will be resigning as a Member of Parliament at the end of the House of Commons Spring sitting. O’Toole was first elected as MP for the GTA riding of Durham in 2012 and served as Minister of Veterans Affairs, Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs and led the Conservative Party from 2020 to early 2022.
  • Next week the federal government will enter into mediated talks with PSAC, the union which represents 155,000 federal government employees, the mediators will attempt to find a breakthrough which will allow the negotiators to agree on a new contract for PSAC workers. PSAC is currently conducting a vote to ask members for a mandate to strike if talks fail.
  • The Auditor General tabled 4 reports this week. Her findings included a review of Canada’s international assistance in support of gender inequality which found the government was unable to demonstrate the value of its spending in this area and a review of internet access in remote and rural communities which found that delays in promised government spending was slowing progress at connecting Canadians in these areas.
  • The government has appointed Martine Richard as acting Ethics Commissioner while the search for a permanent replacement for the recently retired Mario Dion is run. The appointment has drawn criticism from the opposition because the acting Commissioner is Minister Leblanc’s sister-in-law.

Government announcements

  • Minister Fortier has launched a consultation on the Annual Regulatory Modernization Bill asking for input on regulatory barriers to economic growth and solutions as to how to streamline Canada’s regulatory process. The consultation will be open until 26, 2023.
  • Minister Ng welcomed the conclusion of negotiations to allow the UK to join the CPTPP. The UK will be the first nation to join the trade agreement since it was signed in 2018.
  • The government has announced that Japan has fully re-opened its border to Canadian processed beef for the first time in two decades.
  • Minister Wilkinson released the modernized Policy for Radioactive Waste and Decommissioning which updates the 1996 Radioactive Waste Policy.

In the House of Commons 

  • C-11: The House of Commons voted on the Senate amendments to the contentious bill to regulate internet streaming after the government invoked closure to end the debate. With the Commons rejecting several of the Senate amendments the bill will now return to the Senate after it comes back from its Easter break in April.
  • C-26: This bill to amend the Telecommunications Act regarding cyber-security passed 2nd reading at the House of Commons and was referred to the Public Safety Committee.
  • C-46: The government tabled this bill which implements the budget’s commitment to an increased GST rebate to assist with the rising cost of groceries.
  • C-215: This bill to amend the Employment Insurance Act introduced by Conservative MP Jacques Gourde was dropped from the order paper after the Speaker ruled it would require a royal recommendation to proceed.
  • C‑226: A PMB from Green Party Leader Elizabeth May entitled “An Act respecting the development of a national strategy to assess, prevent and address environmental racism and to advance environmental justice” passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons.
  • C-234: A PMB which would exempt fuel used by farmers for grain drying was passed at 3rd reading in the House over the opposition of the Liberals with all opposition parties voting in favour.
  • S-203: The act to develop a framework on the autism spectrum disorder was approved by the House and received royal assent.
  • S-214: An Act to establish an International Mother Language Day on February 21 of each year passed 3rd reading in the House of Commons.
  • The order of precedence for Private Members Bills has been recently replenished with a new set of bills that will be debated during the time set aside for PMBs each sitting day. The list can be seen here under the Items in the Order of Precedence heading.

Economic numbers of the week 

  • +0.5%: Statistics Canada reported this morning that Canada’s GDP grew by 0.5% in January rebounding from the 0.1% decline in December with growth in 17 of 20 sectors surveyed. The initial estimate for February is that the economy expanded by 0.3% last month.

Coming Up

  • The House of Commons will be on a break for the next two weeks and return on April 17th.

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