Canadian Federal Politics
The House of Commons re-opened on February 1st. The agenda for this session is expected to focus on the remaining objectives that the Liberals planned to accomplish in their first 100 days, which comes to a close on February 3rd. Among these promises are a pledge to mitigate hatred and harmful content online, address the impact of COVID-19 on the hard-hit Arts sector, provide equality reform plans for LGBTQ2 Canadians, and update the Official Languages Act.
Due to the minority government, Trudeau and the Liberals will need support from either the Bloc Québécois or the NDP to get anything done. Recent bills like the ban on conversion therapy received unanimous support from all parties, but this isn’t expected to continue. All three parties grew quite frustrated with the Conservatives last year as they often applied obstructionist tactics to run out the clock on bills.
The recent ousting of Erin O’Toole from his position as Leader of the Conservative party is expected to have further consequences for dynamics on the hill. It is anticipated that this change in leadership could lead to one of two outcomes: either the Conservatives will become a stronger and truly competitive party for the Liberals by shifting left on the political spectrum, or the party will continue to fracture and become more right-leaning. Either of these paths will result in a very different policymaking environment this year.
One bill that will likely have an influence on future federal decision-making is Bill S-2, An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and to make consequential and related amendments to other Acts. This bill previously died on the Order Paper last April but was re-introduced in the Senate in November 2021. This bill would make significant modifications to the Parliament of Canada Act and related acts to emphasize how the Senate is independent and non-partisan. Among the proposed changes, one major amendment from this Senate-housekeeping bill is that independent senators (those who aren’t affiliated with a party) would receive official recognition and annual allowances.