This Week in Ottawa: October 27, 2023

Top news

  • Prime Minister Trudeau announced yesterday that the government will pause the application of the carbon tax on home heating oil and increase the top-up rebate of the carbon tax for rural residents. He also announced a pilot project in Atlantic Canada which will provide additional funding for households who switch from using home heating oil to heat pumps to heat their homes,
  • Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault released interim guidance as to how the government will move forward on federal environmental assessments in response to the recent Supreme Court decision that found significant parts of the Impact Assessment Act are unconstitutional. The government has asked the Impact Assessment Agency to review all current assessments for whether they are under federal jurisdiction.
  • Senator Ian Shugart had passed away on Wednesday. Prior to his appointment to the Senate, he had a long career in the public service culminating with serving as Clerk of the Privy Council from 2019-21.
  • Global Affairs Canada’s Rapid Response Mechanism reported it has detected a misinformation campaign aimed at the Prime Minister, Leader of the Opposition, and members of cabinet seeking to spread deep fake videos making false allegations with the goal of discouraging Canadian leaders from criticizing the Communist Party of China.
  • The Government Operations Committee continued its study of government IT practices regarding the ArriveCan app with whistle-blowers who have triggered an RCMP investigation appearing on Thursday. The Conservatives also raised questions this week about why the firms under investigation received $17 million in contracts from CBSA after the agency had been provided with the allegations of wrong-doing.

Government announcements

  • Finance Minister Freeland announced the first investment of the Canada Growth Fund will be a $90 million investment in Eavor Technologies, a geothermal energy company. The Canada Growth Fund is a $15 billion federal fund that will make arms-length investments in the clean technology sector.
  • Finance Minister Freeland said she will meet with provincial and territorial finance ministers to discuss Alberta’s proposal to withdraw from the Canada Pension Plan.
  • The Patented Medicine Prices Review Board announced the first phase of consultations on its proposed new Guidelines will be roundtables with stakeholders held in December.
  • The Competition Bureau has opened a consultation on its proposed Amendments to the Abuse of Dominance Provisions. It is accepting submissions up until December 24th.
  • Immigration Minister Miller announced new measures to protect international students from fraud and strengthen the International Student Program.
  • Innovation Minister Champagne announced he has tripled the funding of the Contributions Program for Non-Profit Consumer and Voluntary Organizations to $5 million in order to fund more consumer research projects on the retail sector. The Minister is also issuing calls for research on shrinkflation and dequaliflation.
  • International Trade Minister Ng announced Canada has completed a foreign investment promotion and protection agreement with Taiwan.
  • Environment Minister Guilbeault announced a collaboration with the Nature Conservancy of Canada to help protect 30,000 hectares of land near Canada’s National Parks.
  • Minister Sajjan announced the launch of the PacifiCan’s Business Acceleration Pilot which will provide funding to organizations that offer tailored support to growth-oriented businesses.
  • The government announced a panel of experts to help develop a restorative engagement program for the public service. The panel will recommend how to build a program that will address harms and promote healing for public servants who have experienced harassment, discrimination, and violence in the workplace.
  • Canadian Heritage Minster St-Onge issued a call for proposals for the Digital Citizen Initiative seeking projects that will counter harmful disinformation.

Parliament this week

  • Bill C-50: This bill to create a strategy to help workers in the energy sector transition to clean energy jobs passed 2nd reading and was referred to the Natural Resources Committee.
  • Bill C-234: The Senate Committee studying this bill to expand the carbon tax exemption for farming amended the bill to narrow the proposed exemption.
  • Bill C-252: This PMB which would ban the marketing of food and beverages directly to children passed 3rd reading in the House.
  • Bill C-278: MP Dean Allison’s bill to ban the use of federal vaccine mandates for COVID-19 vaccines was defeated at 2nd reading.
  • Bill C-280: This PMB which would amend the Bankruptcy Act to address how perishable fruits and vegetables should be dealt with during bankruptcy proceedings passed 3rd reading in the House.  
  • Bill C-284: This PMB to establish a national strategy for eye care was passed at 3rd reading in the House.
  • NDP MP Daniel Blaikie’s motion to put limits on the government’s right to designate legislation as a matter of confidence was defeated.

Economic numbers of the week

  • 5%: The Bank of Canada maintained its policy interest rate at 5% noting that there is “growing evidence that past interest rate increases are dampening economic activity and relieving price pressures.”

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