CPWA Ottawa Report

September 27, 2021

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The next edition of the Ottawa Report is scheduled to be sent in October.

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44th Federal General Election Results

The results of the 2021 election are remarkably close to those of the 2019 election, which also resulted in a Liberal minority government led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Party 2021 Election Results (9/27) Seats at Dissolution (8/15) 2019 Election Results
Liberal 159* 155 157
Conservative 119 119 121
Bloc Québécois 33 32 32
NDP 25 24 24
Green 2 2 3
(Independent) 0* 5 1
(Vacant) 0 1 0

*The Liberals’ 159 seats, as reported by Elections Canada, includes MP-elect Kevin Vuong, who appeared on the ballot as the Liberal candidate for Spadina-Fort York but was removed as the Liberal Party's candidate two days before the election following reports of a past sexual assault charge. Vuong has stated that he will continue as an Independent Member of Parliament.

The above results are not official until the writs are returned to the Speaker of the House of Commons by the Chief Electoral Officer, which is estimated to take place the week of October 11. Before the writs can be returned, any riding where less than one one-thousandth (1/1000) of the total votes cast separates the winning candidate from any other is subject to a judicial recount. The outcome will nevertheless remain that the Liberals will form the next government. The Liberals are forming another government while garnering less than one-third of the votes cast, but what counts is seats and the Liberals have run three successive ‘vote efficient’ campaigns.

On September 27, Annamie Paul announced that she is stepping down as Green Party leader. No other opposition parties have announced changes to their leadership.


The Liberal Government Mandate

Prime Minister Trudeau has a reaffirmed mandate to, among other things, support Canadians through the next phase(s?) of the COVID crisis, move the yardsticks on climate change, fund $10-a-day childcare across the country, and continue down the long path of reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
Several initiatives outlined in the Liberal’s election platform can be expected to be introduced in the months ahead, including the following:
  • Legislation to safeguard Canada’s critical infrastructure, including 5G networks.
  • A Pan-Canadian Grid Council to promote infrastructure investments, smart grids, grid integration, and electricity sector innovation to make Canada the world’s most carbon-free electricity producer.
  • A climate data strategy to provide climate information and inform infrastructure investments.
  • Investing an additional $200 million in the Natural Infrastructure Fund to continue funding community-led public green space projects in collaboration with municipalities, Indigenous communities, and non-profit organizations.
  • Establish and fully fund the Canada Water Agency in 2022.
  • Modernize the 50-year-old Canada Water Act to, among other things, address climate change and Indigenous water rights.
  • Implement a strengthened Freshwater Action Plan, including an investment of $1 billion over 10 years to protect and restore large lakes and river systems.
  • Maintain the government’s commitment to invest $6 billion to ensure sustainable access to clean water for First Nations.

Managing the Legislative Agenda

As he carries on with his renewed public policy agenda, the Prime Minister and his team will once again run a ‘brokerage government’, just as they did following the 2019 election. Given the seat count resulting from the election, the Liberals have three opposition parties from which to seek and gain support for their legislative agenda in a hung (aka minority) Parliament. Which opposition party supports which legislative initiative depends entirely on the content of the bill. Even the Liberal’s arch-rival Conservatives may support some Liberal bills in the future. It is no secret, however, that NDP support will be sought, and obtained, on the majority of bills introduced in the House, particularly those relating to social policy issues.

On the Horizon

Cabinet Appointments Anticipated in October

Prime Minister Trudeau will invite Liberal MPs to join his Cabinet within the next two-to-three weeks, with Governor General Mary Simon summoning them to Rideau Hall to be sworn into office. Three ministers were defeated at the polls – Women and Gender Equality Minister Maryam Monsef, Fisheries and Oceans Minister Bernadette Jordan, and Seniors Minister Deb Schulte – but the Prime Minister has many candidates to choose from, including two MPs elected in Alberta. The Province of Saskatchewan will, once again, be left out of representation around the Cabinet table as all 14 seats were won by the Conservatives. It is reasonable to expect the Prime Minister to, once again, select a gender balanced Cabinet. This will be an interesting challenge because all three ministers defeated last week were women and a fourth, Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, did not seek re-election.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, departmental Deputy Ministers are finalizing the briefing books for their respective departments and agencies. Newly minted Ministers will be prepped by senior departmental officials on the key issues they will face once they are confronted by the media, which occurs almost immediately, and by the opposition benches in Question Period once Parliament is recalled.

First Session of 44th Parliament Expected to Open in November

The First Session of the 44th Parliament will likely commence some time in November. Once that occurs, the first order of business in the House of Commons will be for Members of Parliament to choose the next Speaker of the House. Following the election of the House Speaker, the Governor General will read the Liberal government’s Speech from the Throne in the Senate chamber. The vote on the Throne Speech automatically triggers a vote of confidence in the new Liberal government. There will be no enthusiasm for another exhausting election to take place so soon – passage of the Throne Speech should be a ‘slam dunk’. 

Reconstitution of House and Senate Committees

Shortly after the resumption of Parliament, committees in both the House and the Senate will be reconstituted. New Chairs and Vice Chairs will be selected, and members of each Committee will be appointed by their respective parties. Most House committees are standing committees established by the Standing Orders of the House of Commons – so named because they are automatically renewed at the start of each parliamentary session. Similarly, the Rules of the Senate establish seventeen standing committees and their mandates.

Fall Economic Statement Anticipated

It is also reasonable to assume that the Minister of Finance, whoever that may be, will release a Fall Economic Update, giving Canadians a sense of what the government’s books look like and a sneak peek into the 2022 budget.