It is truly a sign that summer has come to a close when September rolls around and Parliament resumes. MPs dust off their suits and leave their hometowns for Ottawa and the media gets fired up to report on the next #elbowgate (and more serious issues).
Parliament is back in session today – September 19th – and despite the 2.5 months off, the Trudeau Liberals have been busy. We’ve tracked the Prime Minister and his Cabinet from NATO meetings in Warsaw to G20 meetings in China, and now the Liberal Caucus is ready to focus on issues closer to home.
Here is a summary of the hot button issues expecting attention from the Trudeau Liberals when Parliament resumes:
a) Pipelines -The government is under considerable pressure to get the economy going, and building a pipeline that would increase demand for Alberta oil is one way to help the ailing Alberta economy. Of the multiple pipelines seeking approval – Northern Gateway, Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain, Energy East and Keystone XL – it is most likely the government will approve the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline (CTV). This is arguably the easiest to approve as it involves expanding an already existing pipeline from Edmonton, AB to Burnaby, BC. By contrast, Energy East would be much more difficult to approve since it is not supported by the Quebec provincial government, and likewise, Keystone XL is not supported by US President Barack Obama.
b) Climate Change – Senior government officials have noted that ratifying the Paris Climate Change Agreement is high priority for Trudeau this September. The pressure to ratify increased after the US and China ratified on September 3rd. Furthermore, the government is being urged to act fast by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. To this effect, Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna announced this week that the Federal government will “impose a minimum, national carbon price on provinces that fail to adopt their own pricing system for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions (Globe and Mail).” Essentially, the Federal government is allowing Provinces to implement either a carbon tax or cap-and-trade system, but if the Provinces’ proposed plan does not do enough to stem emissions, the Federal government will implement stricter policy to enable Canada to meet its emissions targets.
These moves have received considerable criticism from Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall and others who want the Federal government to work collaboratively with Premiers to set the strategy and actions to meet the new climate goals. Instead, when the Federal and Provincial leaders meet in early October, it seems likely the plan will have been decided for them (Globe and Mail).
c) Election Reform – Arguably the most controversial of the Trudeau election promises was the statement that the 2015 election would be the last under the first-past-the-post system. In their efforts to change the way we elect our governing party, the Liberals have set up a special committee to consult with Canadians and study alternatives to our voting system (for more on the process, see Where in the world do we stand with electoral reform?). When Parliament resumes, expect this issue to be back in the spotlight, as the special committee conducts cross-country consultations throughout September and issues their final report with recommendations on December 1st (CBC).
As the Liberals try to move forward on their election promises this fall, these are the three main areas we expect will be hotly debated. We have no doubt that the Opposition will have a great deal to say about these issues – and is likely to challenge the Liberals on their plan to fix the ailing economy at every chance they get.
What do you think of the Liberal plans? Is the government focusing on the right areas? Is it ‘consultation constipation’ as some critics say, or are they are asserting their power too much (as in the case of the carbon tax)?
Let us know in the comments below!
Authored by: Candice White, Co-Founder and Editor at mPolitics
Picture from: Flickr