Monthly Archives: November 2019

Welcome Back to West Block: The Issues

img_20160902_09532983This is the wrap up post in a series setting up the 43rd session of Parliament. As mentioned in my previous post, the government has set up its cabinet to deal specifically with three issues, the West, the environment and the middle class with a multi-minister approach to each of those three issues.

Since the reveal of Trudeau’s cabinet, the media have been focusing on how Trudeau will manage the West and just how a Ministry for Middle-Class Prosperity will affect the prosperity of the middle class.  There will no doubt be plenty of analysis and political punditry.  Seeing how Minister Fortier will handle the questions during question period will hurt or hinder Liberal attempts at having success much in the same way Minister Monsef, in the last parliament, handled the now gone ministry of democratic reform.  The term “middle class lens” could be a day time drinking game.

But beyond the West, the Environment and the Middle-Class there are issues that were hung out at the end of the last parliament that the government will need to address.

The Health Minister will have two files to take up most of her time. New medically assisted dying legislation is due to be introduced.  This legislation follows a 4th interim report  https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/publications/health-system-services/medical-assistance-dying-interim-report-april-2019.html) that was released in April of 2019 and there are calls for relaxed rules for allowing medically induced deaths.  The second file is that of a national Pharmacare program.  The liberals don’t have the luxury of a majority government to wait until the 3rd year of a 4-year mandate to roll this out.  Working with the Finance Minister, Health Minister Patti Hajdu will probably be forced to deal with this in the first two years of this minority session.  The NDP promised to have a full plan in place by 2020, we’ll see how much the Liberals will be depending on support from Jagmeet Singh and his team to determine how fast or slow Trudeau rolls this out.

While not much was said about Veterans by the Liberals in the election, Minister MacAulay still needs to deal with gaps in funding of the Liberal Pension-for-life plan from a couple years ago.  Our current serving soldiers will rely on the Defence Minister to follow through on the National Defence Review and renewed calls from the US to pay its full share to NATO.

Even with 9 ministers that have a hand in the economy of Canada, the government will need to look ahead and avoid a recession that is expected to hit the United States (https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/21/economy/consumer-spending-recession/index.html ) and will have a spillover into Canada.  How will Finance Minister Bill Morneau handle his first “R word” budget?  Considering the amount of spending the Liberals have done in good years, is there anything left to hold off a downturn in the economy in bad years.

There is one final issue that Liberals will need to deal with – and it could be the hardest one they will have to get a grip on.  That is their ever-present need of virtual signaling.  Gone are the days of the liberalization of Canadian policy; think of the attestation Trudeau forced on non-profit and religious groups to qualify for Canada Summer Jobs funding, there is no majority to allow liberal left thinkers to have their way with policy and how we will qualify or not qualify for taxpayer funded programs.

Now it’s all in the hands of the 338 Members of the House of Commons, 157 in government and 181 in opposition.  It’s time to raise the curtain and see how this all plays out.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Welcome Back to West Block: The Government

20191125_115040.jpgA kinder and gentler Trudeau government?  Is this an expectation of Canadians? It certainly was something that Canada voted for on October 21st, no more of a government that had blinders on, plowed ahead with its values-based agenda all others be damned. The results of the election indicated that the government was expected to work with all parties and all provinces.

What could the government possibly do for an encore to 2015? Based on the new cabinet that was announced on November 20th Trudeau has decided that he has three themes in his new cabinet.  More importantly the government seems more focused on working with the provinces and municipalities, rather than the opposition parties in achieving success in the three themes

The first theme is national unity and ensuring that Alberta and Saskatchewan are heard.   Trudeau has tied several ministries together.  With Intergovernmental Affairs, Natural Resources, Agriculture, Infrastructure and Communities Trudeau has a group of Ministers that will be tasked with making sure each region of the country is heard and listened to.  In a second pool Trudeau has the Ministers of Environment and Climate Change, Oceans and Fisheries, Infrastructure & Communities has closely bound the economy and the environment.  In the third group of Ministries which include Finance, Diversity Inclusion and Youth, Economic Development, Rural Economic Development and a new ministry of Middle-Class Prosperity (seriously that is what is called) will all be forced to work together to “support the middle class and all those seeking to join it”.

For anything else, it will be just be a case of make sure nothing blows up, so we won’t have to divert from out three-pronged plan to govern for the next 3 to 4 years. In simple terms this government will be focused on the Middle-Class, Climate Change and National Unity.

How can we expect the government to stay in power working with the other parties?  I suspect that the Liberals will count on different parties keep them as the government.  On the environment the NDP and Bloc will play nice with the Liberals. Ccount on the Conservatives supporting actions to prop up the middle class as both the Liberals and Conservatives campaigned on massive tax cuts to middle-class for their votes. The tricky file will be national unity but expect the Bloc Quebecois (of all parties) to vote with the government to support efforts that bring the regions together.  I say this because if there is one region that is all about the “what’s in it for me” it is Quebec.  The Bloc will certainly be waving the Bleu et Blanc each day in the House of Commons.

The government has its work set out for themselves and they think they have a plan that will help them get back to a majority.  Will the opposition oblige?

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

Welcome Back to West Block: The Opposition Parties

QPBy the time all the votes had been counted and 338 candidates had been declared an MPP-elect the House looked far different that it did when the Governor General disolved the 42nd Parliament.  When the MPs last met in the House of Commons the party standings were Liberas with 177 seats, Conservatives 95 seats, New Democrats 39 seats, Bloc Quebecois 10 seats, 2 seats for the Greens, one each for the Peoples Party and the CCF. There were 8 independent MPs and 5 vacant seats.

Following the election, the party results had a different landscape as Canadians woke up October 22nd with a Liberal minority government – some would call it a strong minority with only 13 votes needed from other parties to support the government to pass legislation.  But it was a minority still.  What Canadians also woke up to a regionalized parliament, the rebirth of the Bloc Quebecois and the absence of the liberals in Alberta and Saskatchewan and the question of how the government could possibly ensure that the west was important to the Trudeau.

Heading into the speech from the throne on December 5th the seat standings for each of the parties is:  Liberals 157, Conservatives 121, Bloc Quebecois 32, NDP 24, Green Party 3 and 1 Independent.  These new standings will have impacts beyond the votes themselves.  The NDP fall to fourth place while the Conservatives remain Her majesty’s Loyal Opposition.

Now that there are four parties in the opposition that have ‘official party status’ questions allotted for Question Period are now split between three parties.  In each session of parliament, the number of questions given to each party is based on the proportion of seats in the opposition, in this session Conservative hold 121 of 181 seats.  The NDP will be the loser in QP as they will have to split the number of questions with the Bloc who hold a greater share of the seats than the New Democrats. Conservatives hold approximately 66% of the seats, the same as last session and should be able to ask 24-25 questions each time Question Period takes place.

Through QP and debates each party will have its priorities and will use those priorities to determine how they vote and how successful each party will be in working with the government and their agenda.  The opposition parties will have to find their footing, set their agendas and make hard decisions what they are and are not prepared to support when it comes to Justin Trudeau and the Liberals.  It will be more important for the opposition to know where the line is where they no longer have confidence in the government and will force a new election.   Ultimately though it will be the Liberals that will make that decision, when it suits their purposes best.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook at http://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net

#elxn43 – West Block awaits

20191114_153417.jpgI have been thinking about Canada’s 43rd Parliament.  I’ve been thinking of this since the Prime Minister announced that the House will reconvene  on Thursday December 5th when MP’s will select the Speaker of the House of Commons and deliver the throne speech.   Because of his announcement there are so many questions to ponder before December 5th.

There will be questions about the party leaders, the regional divisions, the province vs Ottawa battle lines and who is going to be doing what.  There is going to be a new cabinet to consider, who’s out and who stays in.  On the opposition side of the aisle the considerations are just as enormous as there are key players not returning.

I fully expect to hear from the parties and the leaders and what they want out of this session.  I wonder how effective the NDP be with a much smaller representation (the NDP is now fourth in the House of Commons), will the Bloc Quebecois eclipse how team orange operates and can the BQ ever think about anything else besides themselves and Quebec?  The Conservatives have a much larger team, but will they be able to keep their focus on the government when everyone else (including some in the party and the House) are focused on Andrew Scheer’s hold on the  CPC leadership? Does three elected Green MPs mean more from them? Finally, what will Jody Wilson-Raybould do to get under the skin of the Prime Minister this session?

Of course there will be the issues,  there will be no shortage of issues to legislate and debate, but who’ll control the agenda in this minority parliament?  While the last parliament was a Liberal majority, Trudeau still struggled at controlling the house and the legislative agenda.  He’ll need a stronger and more congenial House Leader to quarterback Trudeau’s agenda. Bardish Chagger did not demonstrate the qualities of being approachable, accommodating and amiable to working with others, traits that are needed for a majority, – so there’s a chance she will not be asked to do it for a minority.  When the Prime Minister unveils his new cabinet on November we’ll finally see how he plans to stick handle his way through this parliament.

Leading up to December 5th I’ll  look at the Parties and their priorities; the People and their roles  and finally the issues and expected legislation. I hope you’ll catch all three posts leading to the speech from the throne.

Thank you for reading this post; to catch all my posts and be notified as new ones come up please follow me on WordPress.  I can be found on Twitter @robertdekker & @rdmediaottawa and on Facebook athttp://tiny.cc/n5l97.  If you prefer email, please contact me at rdmedia@bell.net