This Week In Ottawa May 5, 2023

Top news

  • The federal government has reached tentative agreements with striking PSAC workers. The proposed contract would see public servants receive a 11.5% wage increase over 4 years. The agreement does not enshrine a right to work remotely in the contract but government has agreed to conduct a review of the Directive on Telework. The contracts must now be ratified by union members. Leaders of one section of the PSAC have urged members to reject the contract which could result in a resumption of the strike if enough members take this advice. 
  • The issue of foreign interference returned to the forefront Canadian politics once again this week following revelations in the Globe and Mail that a Chinese diplomat based in Canada sought to target Conservative MP Michael Chong’s family in Hong Kong. In response the Minister Joly announced her officials had called in the Chinese Ambassador for a discussion on Chinese interference and she is considering expelling the diplomat in question. The Prime Minister has provided little clarity over how his claims that the initial CSIS did not get passed outside of CSIS squares with subsequent claims that it had been passed on to offices such as the Privy Council Office.
  • On a different aspect of the interference story the PM’s brother Alexandre Trudeau testified at Ethics Committee’s study of a foreign donation to the Trudeau Foundation. He insisted there was no possible question of foreign interference related to the donation and defended how the controversy has been handled by the Foundation.
  • Liberal Party members from across Canada are in Ottawa for the party’s first in-person convention since 2018. Liberals will hear from a variety of speakers including Prime Minister Trudeau who addressed the gathering last night and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who is doing a discussion with Minister Freeland this evening. The list of policy resolutions that delegates will consider can be found here.
  • International Trade Minister Mary Ng contacted US Ambassador to Canada David Cohen following a speech he made in which he described Canada’s reaction to the Inflation Reduction Act as a “a “hissy fit” to express her view on the importance of Canada and the US working together on North American competitiveness. 

Government announcements

  • Minister Champagne announced a new licensing policy on access to 5G spectrum for small internet providers, innovative industries and rural, remote and Indigenous communities to make it easier for them to access the 5G spectrum.
  • Minister Wilkinson announced the launch of Canada Electricity Advisory Council which will provide the government with advice on actions needed to meet the government’s net zero goals in the electricity sector.
  • The Canadian Security Intelligence Service released the CSIS 2022 Public Report. The reports provides an overview of CSIS’s threat assessment and the actions it took over the course of last year.
  • Minister Sajjan announced the federal government has committed more than $70 million to provide humanitarian support to Sudan and neighbouring countries impacted by the conflict between different military factions.
  • Minister Bibeau launched the of the new phase of the Local Food Infrastructure Fund (LFIF) which is now open to applications for projects between $15,000 to $120,000 that can improve food security in local communities.
  • Environment and Climate Change Canada enforcement officers have opened an formal investigation into whether the oil spill at the Kearl Oil Sands Site violated the Fisheries Act.

In the House of Commons

  • Bill C-21: The government has introduced new amendments to the gun control bill to replace the controversial amendments it withdrew earlier this year. The revised amendments will only target new gun sales. This scaling back of the bill was strongly criticized by gun control advocates while firearms owners groups continue to object what they see as unfair restrictions on legal gun owners.
  • Bill C-45: This bill which expands and modernizes the mandates of the First Nations Tax Commission and the First Nations Financial Management Board passed 2nd reading in the House with the unanimous support of all MPs.
  • Bill C-47: The spring budget bill was approved at 2nd reading in the House and referred to the Finance Committee after the House voted for a government motion to end the 2nd reading debate. 
  • Bill S-211: The bill to establish new reporting requirements on forced and child labour in supply chains passed 3rd reading in the House and is now awaiting Royal Assent.
  • A Conservative Opposition Day motion calling for the federal government to take action on housing prices by tying infrastructure funding to housing approvals was defeated with all other parties opposing.  

Economic numbers of the week 

  • 41,000: The April Labour Force Survey reported that that there were 41,00 net new jobs created in Canada last month leaving the unemployment rate at 5%. The gains were driven by a jump in part-time employee while full-time levels remained steady.  

Coming Up

  • King Charles III’s coronation ceremony will be held on May 6 in London. A Canadian delegation including Governor General Mary Simon and Prime Minister Trudeau will attend the ceremony.
  • India’s Minister of Commerce and Industry, Consumer Affairs and Food, and Public Distribution and Textiles, Piyush Goyal will visit Canada from May 8-11 for a bilateral meeting with Minister Ng as Canada and India continue talks on a free trade agreement. 

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