This Week in Ottawa: November 3, 2023

Top news

  • Prime Minister Trudeau travelled to Washington DC today to attend President Biden’s Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity summit, where leaders from 12 nations in North and South America have gathered to discuss issues of importance to the hemisphere.
  • Global Affairs Minster Joly gave what was billed as a major speech on Canadian Diplomacy Amidst Geopolitical Uncertainty. In the speech, Joly emphasized the need for “pragmatic diplomacy” so Canada can work with all countries, even those with which it disagrees, to avoid conflicts.
  • Canada’s federal and provincial finance ministers are holding a virtual meeting today. The meeting was called to discuss Alberta’s proposal to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan. However, several provinces have called for the meeting to discuss calls for expanding the exemption to the carbon tax for energy sources beyond heating oil.
  • The Public Inquiry into Foreign Interference in Federal Electoral Processes and Democratic Institution released its first public statement this week noting that Commissioner Marie-Josée Hogue intends to conduct the inquiry in two phases, with the first phase looking at foreign interference and the government’s reaction to it in the  2019 and 2021 federal elections on which she will hold public hearings in early 2024. The second phase, which will include public hearings in the fall of 2024, will review the government’s structural capacity to deal with foreign interference.

Government announcements

  • Immigration Minister Miller released Canada’s 2024-2026 Immigration Levels plan. The plan calls for Canada to accept 485,000 new permanent residents in 2024, rising to 500,000 in 2025 and staying at that level in 2026. The Minister characterized this as stabilizing Canada’s immigration levels for successful integration. The Minister also released the report An Immigration System for Canada’s Future, which lays out how the government intends to strengthen the immigration system for the future.  
  • Natural Resources Minister Wilkinson announced that the government would open a call for applications for the Critical Minerals Infrastructure Fund (CMIF) in late fall 2023. The $1.5 billion fund will be open to projects that support clean energy and transportation needs for critical mineral development projects.
  • Treasury Board President Anand announced the federal government was banning the use of WeChat and Kaspersky suite of applications on government-issued devices after the Chief Information Officer of Canada determined these apps pose an “unacceptable level of risk to privacy and security.”
  • Immigration Minister Miller announced Canada has met its commitment to accept 40,000 Afghan refugees. The commitment was made in 2021 after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan’s government.  
  • International Trade Minister Ng concluded her trade mission to Japan. The trade mission saw 240 people from 160 Canadian organizations join Minister Ng in Japan to discuss business opportunities in the Japanese market.
  • The Canadian government joined several other nations in the Counter Ransomware Initiative Joint Statement on Ransomware Payments, which commits the governments to refusing to pay any ransomware demands and urging private organizations to follow this policy to reduce the incentive for future attacks.
  • Innovation Minister Champagne attended the UK government’s international summit on artificial intelligence, where Canada joined 28 other countries in signing The Bletchley Declaration, committing to work together on the risks and opportunities of AI.
  • Former BC Premier John Horgan has been appointed as Canada’s next Ambassador to Germany.  

In the House of Commons

  • Bill C-42: This bill to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act to require more disclosure of the ownership of corporations was approved by the Senate at 3rd reading and received Royal Assent.
  • S-205: This bill to amend the Criminal Code in respect of interim release related to intimate partner violence offences passed 2nd reading in the House and was referred to the Committee on the Status of Women.
  • The Conservative Party used an Opposition Day to introduce a motion calling for the government to extend the carbon tax exemption granted to home heating oil to all energy for heat sources. The motion, which will be voted on next week, won the support of the NDP.  The government this week rejected calls from opposition MPs and provinces to expand the exemption, saying there will be no more carveouts of the carbon tax.

Economic numbers of the week

  • 5.7%: Canada’s unemployment rate rose by 0.2% to 5.7% in October with 18,000 net new jobs created last month

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