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Parliament is back. Here’s the packed agenda.

We talked to cabinet ministers, Liberal insiders, and outsiders clamouring for attention to their issues


 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a meeting with his cabinet before the speech from the throne on Parliament Hill on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 in Ottawa. Justin Tang/CP

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau arrives for a meeting with his cabinet before the speech from the throne on Parliament Hill on Friday, Dec. 4, 2015 in Ottawa. Justin Tang/CP

Every new prime minister must try to define the task at hand. Stephen Harper came into power in 2006 brandishing a list of just five top priorities, most memorably tax cuts that started with trimming the Goods and Service Tax. Even Paul Martin, who was often criticized for having too many pressing files on the go at once, tried to narrow his government’s policy focus by arguing that an aging population at home and the rise of Asian economies abroad were the two biggest changes facing Canada.

Justin Trudeau won last fall’s election on an unusually sprawling platform, peppered with more than 200 promises, many dauntingly ambitious. His cabinet quickly set to work last year trying to advance dozens of them. So, when they met this week in Saint Andrews, N.B., to strategize before the Jan. 25 return of Parliament, sorting out what the Trudeau government must move on urgently, and what can wait, might have seemed nearly impossible. How to weigh, say, legalizing marijuana against reforming the way Canadians elect MPs, or compare combatting terrorism to fixing First Nations schools?

As it happens, though, the tandem dive of the price of oil and value of the Canadian dollar has largely sorted out the agenda for them. With the unsteady economy overshadowing all other possible concerns, pressure is building on Trudeau and Finance Minister Bill Morneau to table a budget in only a few weeks that soothes those growing jitters. Our survey of the federal agenda—drawing on interviews with cabinet ministers, Liberal insiders, and outsiders clamouring for attention to their issues—starts, as the government must, with that economic plan.


Budget 2016

Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, Canada, December 7, 2015. The new Canadian government's planned tax hike on the rich will bring in less money than forecast and will not cover the cost of a promised middle-class tax cut, according to an official release on Monday. A government document said the tax hike would bring in C$2.01 billion ($1.49 billion), while the cost of the tax cut would be C$3.44 billion ($2.55 billion). (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada’s Finance Minister Bill Morneau takes part in a news conference in Ottawa, Canada, December 7, 2015. The new Canadian government’s planned tax hike on the rich will bring in less money than forecast and will not cover the cost of a promised middle-class tax cut, according to an official release on Monday. A government document said the tax hike would bring in C$2.01 billion ($1.49 billion), while the cost of the tax cut would be C$3.44 billion ($2.55 billion). (Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Trudeau’s key tool for stimulating the economy will undoubtedly be infrastructure spending, a central pillar of his 2015 election platform. While running for office, however, his Liberals proposed stretching $60 billion on traditional public works, green projects and social infrastructure (like daycare centres and affordable housing) over 10 long years. In each of their first two years in office, spending would only notch up $5 billion—not all that much in a Canadian economy that Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz estimates has lost $50 billion a year in income as a result of the plummeting price of oil and commodities.

In St. Andrews, Trudeau signalled a willingness to go bigger, faster on stimulus spending. “Our focus on infrastructure money is actually getting projects built, getting people working on things that will activate the job market in the short term but create growth and productivity gains in the medium and long term,” he said. He added that the Liberal government will be “flexible” when it comes to Ottawa’s traditional demand that provinces and municipalities match federal infrastructure funds.

A federal official said mundane municipal repairs would be emphasized in the first two years. That sort of work might not be as ribbon-cutting-worthy as shiny new projects, but it can be undertaken right away. As for their election pledge to hold the deficit to $10 billion a year, Trudeau and Morneau have shifted to stressing the goal of making sure federal deficits keep shrinking as a share of the overall economy, a standard some economists estimate would allow for deficits about twice as large.


Oil

Oil Background. Matt Jeacock/Getty Images

Oil Background. Matt Jeacock/Getty Images

Arguably the toughest challenge in rolling out a federal infrastructure push this year will be making sure enough money goes where the need is greatest—to regions hurting most from the oil price plunge. Traditionally, federal public works spending is spread across the country, generally to cities and provinces that have projects ready and their own money to contribute. Right now, though, by far the greatest need is where resource revenues are down most, and thus provincial and municipal budgets are tightest.

“If this is a regional problem in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Newfoundland, how does the federal government supporting infrastructure in Ontario and British Columbia solve that fundamental problem?” says Benjamin Dachis, senior policy analyst at the business-oriented C.D. Howe Institute. “You can’t build enough subways and transit lines in Ontario and B.C. to convince oil companies to invest in Fort McMurray.”

Senior federal officials were signalling this week an acute awareness of the need to earmark some stimulus money for the hardest-hit provinces. As well, the budget is likely to include clean technology funding that could help resource companies. Looking beyond the current downturn, Morneau voiced sympathy, after meeting with oil industry executives in Calgary, on their long-standing plea for a regulatory process to approve proposed pipelines to Atlantic and Pacific ports. “It was frank,” he said about the tenor of the meeting. “There is clearly a worry among people in this sector that they do need to find a way to get access to tidewater. And I stated our government’s support for initiatives to find a way to do that.”


EI and CPP

(The Canadian Press)

(The Canadian Press)

Few federal policies touch Canadians as directly as Employment Insurance (EI) and Canada Pension Plan (CPP) deductions from their paycheques. Both programs are slated for reform under the Liberals, but EI more certainly than CPP. Morneau’s first budget is expected to contain early EI changes, with more to come within the first two or three years of Trudeau’s majority mandate. One key election promise: cut the wait period for EI benefits to one week from two, starting next year. On further reforms, government officials told Maclean’s that Employment Minister MaryAnn Mihychuk and Families, Children and Social Development Minister Jean-Yves Duclos will launch consultations, including town-hall meetings, in the next few months.

If EI reform is a sure thing, expanding the CPP looks far less certain. Morneau met with his provincial and territorial counterparts on the issue just before Christmas, and they agreed to another session sometime in mid-2016, aiming to come to some sort of decision by late this year. “We did not commit to any end game,” he said ultra-cautiously. “Our objective today was to begin a process to review the potential to move forward.” Ontario isn’t nearly so tentative: Premier Kathleen Wynne is pressing ahead with the ambitious Ontario Retirement Pension Plan. Some pension experts warn that the further Ontario proceeds on its own, the harder it would be to harmonize an expanded CPP with a newly reformed pension system in the most populous province.


Health

Canada's new Health Minister Jane Philpott is sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie  - RTX1URNY

Canada’s new Health Minister Jane Philpott is sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie – RTX1URNY

The last time the Liberals were in power, Paul Martin agreed to guarantee the provinces six per cent annual increases in their Canada Health Transfers. That generous yearly hike was touted as his way to “fix health care for a generation.” But the Conservatives planned to roll those increases back, giving provinces notice that, as of next year, the transfers would grow at roughly the rate of the economy. They also changed the funding formula, making it per capita, which left some provinces with budget gaps that were made all the more galling as they jealously counted Alberta’s extra billion a year. The Trudeau Liberals promised to revisit the health accord. Some of the details will presumably be hammered out later this year when Morneau again meets provincial finance ministers.

But this week, it’s Health Minister Jane Philpott, a family doctor, who is sitting down with her provincial counterparts. Philpott will come to the table armed with a modest $3 billion for home care and a case for improving primary health systems, rather than just a bigger pot of cash. She has also taken them up on their invitation to join the pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance, the organization through which provinces buy drugs in bulk to save money.

As well, she’ll be emphasizing the latest statistics showing that health care spending is, in fact, growing at a much slower pace than in the past, even below the rate of inflation. That might not be the provinces’ preferred way to frame their cost pressures, but it’s likely to suit a new federal government looking for places to constrain a potentially ballooning deficit.


Electoral reform

Canada's new Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef is sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie  - RTX1URRR

Canada’s new Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef is sworn-in during a ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa November 4, 2015. REUTERS/Chris Wattie – RTX1URRR

Ordinary Canadians may be most anxious about the economy these days, but hard-core partisan strategists are already fretting about the next election. The reason: Trudeau vowed that the 2015 election would be the last fought under the traditional first-past-the-post rules, which makes the candidate with the most votes in each riding MP, while the rest get zilch. When the House returns next week, among the most closely watched early pieces of business will be the appointment of an all-party committee to study alternatives, including forms of proportional representation, in which a party’s share of MPs would be closer to its share of the overall vote, and preferential balloting, in which voters would rank candidates from most to least preferred.

Debate on the issue is already hot. Conservatives demand a referendum on any changes, while the NDP fears the Liberals intend to push through a ranked-balloting system that would favour a centrist party. Trudeau has assigned an odd-couple duo to manage the file: political neophyte Maryam Monsef, his minister of democratic institutions, and trusted veteran Dominc LeBlanc, his government House leader. Monsef says the government is open to all sorts of options and will ask the House committee to consult widely; LeBlanc has all but ruled out the referendum Tories are demanding.

Although interim Conservative leader Rona Ambrose has generally tried to maintain an upbeat tone since her party was humbled in the election, on this issue she has been hard-nosed, vowing to take all steps needed to block any reform that hasn’t been put to the people first, and urging the Liberals to “come to their senses.”


Carbon emissions

Petro-Canada's Edmonton Refinery and Distribution Centre glows at dusk in Edmonton. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)

Petro-Canada’s Edmonton Refinery and Distribution Centre glows at dusk in Edmonton. (Dan Riedlhuber/Reuters)

Unusually mild temperatures this winter, due in part to a warm El Niño jet stream, may help focus Canadians on a big pillar of the Liberal platform: the fight against climate change. The government has set two closely linked, highly difficult goals: putting a price on carbon emissions, and reducing them. That task falls to Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, who quickly became one of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s highest-profile ministers for her work at the United Nations climate conference in Paris last December.

McKenna has been less visible since then, as she’s hunkered down to deal with the nitty-gritty details of taking over a department. But she’ll re-emerge next week when she welcomes her provincial and territorial counterparts to Ottawa. One challenge is to make room at the leadership table for three provinces—British Columbia, Quebec and Alberta—that already have carbon pricing, and two more—Ontario and Manitoba—that will soon join the club. There’s also the matter of finding some kind of agreement when Saskatchewan Premier Brad Wall, arguably Canada’s leading conservative voice since Harper’s defeat, is heading into an election this spring in a province that’s done well off the oil sands. The heat coming out of those talks in Ottawa may only further warm the air in the capital.


Terrorism

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

Sean Kilpatrick/CP

The pressure on the Trudeau government to step up Canada’s contribution to international efforts to combat terrorism increased dramatically last week when six Quebecers were among 29 killed in an al-Qaeda-linked group’s strike on a hotel and café in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. Four of the Canadian humanitarian workers killed were from the same family, and two more were their friends. The carnage led Foreign Minister Stephane Dion to say that terrorists “are everywhere” and declare that Canada needs “to fight with our allies.”

But the Liberals also ran for office on a vow to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition bombing of the so-called Islamic State. So far, Trudeau has stuck by that commitment, pledging to offset it by offering more Canadian training of Iraq’s forces fighting Islamic State terrorists. “We are seeking different ways of being engaged efficiently and effectively,” he said in St. Andrews when asked about Canada’s response to the Burkina Faso attack. One possibility being discussed in defence circles: providing Canadian military air transport to help the French army’s mission to resist the spread of Islamic terrorists in African countries south of the Sahara, including Burkina Faso. Federal officials would not answer questions about the possibility of Canada offering France that sort of non-combat help. Asked about it in St. Andrews, Trudeau said, “Well, I think Canada as a member of the international community has to do everything it can, including in North Africa and elsewhere, to counter the rise in terrorism.”


First Nations

Canada's Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, December 8, 2015. Chris Wattie / Reuters

Canada’s Indigenous Affairs Minister Carolyn Bennett speaks during Question Period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, December 8, 2015. Chris Wattie / Reuters

Arguably no other cabinet assignment has the daunting scope of Carolyn Bennett’s as minister of Indigenous and northern affairs. Among her short-term priorities, Bennett must set up an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls, oversee the delivery of significantly more money for First Nations education, work with a raft of other ministers to give Aboriginal communities a bigger say in environmental assessments of resource projects, and sort out how infrastructure money can bolster everything from housing to water systems to high-speed Internet on remote reserves.

All this, and more, while scrupulously respecting the need to first build consensus among First Nations, Metis and Inuit leaders, who often disagree amongst themselves. “It is all about the Indigenous style of asking, not telling,” Bennett said in an interview. Still, decisions must be made, and some will have to be reflected in only a few weeks time in Morneau’s budget. Bennett suggested that money can be earmarked in the fiscal plan, with details on exactly how to spend it to be finalized later. “I think we can flow money where there’s known gaps,” she said, adding that work will then have to be done to “determine the pathways, the targets, the indicators of success in a collaborative way.”


Trade

Graham Hughes/CP

Graham Hughes/CP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was supposed to be a crowning achievement of former prime minister Stephen Harper’s push to open new markets for Canadian exports. Instead, deciding whether or not to ratify the pact negotiated on the Conservatives’ watch is a delicate, early issue-management challenge for the Liberals. International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has been cautious, not even willing to comment on whether or not Canada will participate in a signing ceremony for the 12-country pact slated for early next month in New Zealand.

Still, Freeland is firm on one point: There’s no option to change the TPP. “The negotiations are finished and for Canadians it’s important to understand that it’s a decision of yes or no,” she said last week. Even if she goes to New Zealand for the signing, senior federal officials are stressing that doesn’t signal the end of the road. All countries, including Canada, would have two years to ratify the TPP. The Liberals are planning House committee hearings into the impacts—including complaints that the agreement will hurt dairy farmers and auto parts makers—along with a debate in the House.

Expect battling the TPP to be the way NDP Leader Tom Mulcair tries to shore up his credibility with his party’s left wing, after he tacked toward the economic-policy centre in his losing campaign last year. “It’s deeply disappointing to hear Liberal ministers say that a better deal is not even possible,” Mulcair said recently. The case for signing on, regardless of sectoral impacts, is that Canada can’t afford to be outside a deal that will include 40 per cent of the global economy.


Marijuana

Director of Quality Assurance Thomas Shipley prunes dry marijuana buds before they are processed for shipping at Tweed Marijuana Inc  in Smith's Falls, Ontario, April 22, 2014. By unlocking the once-obscure medical marijuana market, Canada has created a fast-growing, profitable and federally regulated industry with a distinct appeal to the more daring global investor. About a dozen producers of the drug will find themselves in the spotlight this year as they consider going public or prepare to so through share sales or reverse takeovers to capitalize on recent regulatory changes, investment bankers said. Tweed Marijuana Inc, which converted an old chocolate factory into a marijuana farm, led the pack by becoming the first publicly held Canadian company in the sector. Picture taken April 22, 2014.   (Blair Gable/Reuters)

(Blair Gable/Reuters)

Conservatives once hoped Trudeau’s pledge to legalize and regulate pot would undermine his bid to be seen as a potential prime minister. It didn’t turn out that way, but Tories haven’t forgotten their attack lines about putting drugs into kids’ hands. Since winning power, though, the Liberals have not sent any clear signals about how fast they plan to move on marijuana. But at least one producer is expecting partial legalization a year from now, starting with British Columbia, the province that’s furthest along in stakeholder consultations. “We think that we will be able to have recreational marijuana on store shelves in liquor stores in British Columbia in early 2017,” said Sébastien St. Louis, CEO of Hydropothecary, a marijuana producer based in Gatineau, Que.

For that to happen, federal legislation could be tabled as early as this spring. If that’s in the works, the Trudeau government is keeping remarkably tight-lipped, offering only bare-bones information about the process to be led by former Toronto police chief Bill Blair (who was not made available for an interview with Maclean’s). Now a rookie Toronto MP, Blair has been assigned to spearhead the pot file as parliamentary secretary to Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould, who shares responsibility for the task with Philpott and Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale. The four MPs are set to meet in the next few weeks to kick things off.

With federal-provincial consultations still to come, getting legislation through Parliament and having regulations in place in a year or so seems like a long shot. Then again, it hasn’t been that long since the same could be said for the very idea of legal weed.


Justice

Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look on as Jody Wilson-Raybould is sworn in as the Minister of Justice and Attoney Gneral of Canada during ceremonies at Rideau Hall, Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

Governor General David Johnston and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau look on as Jody Wilson-Raybould is sworn in as the Minister of Justice and Attoney Gneral of Canada during ceremonies at Rideau Hall, Wednesday Nov.4, 2015 in Ottawa. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

While legalized pot will almost certainly spark the most debate of the Liberal justice proposals, a far less widely discussed pledge could end up being more important: a promise to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. Statistics Canada says 78,000 women in 2011 reported to police they were assaulted by a partner, almost four times more than the number of men who reported the same.

The Liberals plan to pass a law to make it harder for those previously convicted of intimate partner violence to get bail if they are charged again. As well, when it comes to imposing sentences, judges would consider assault against a partner a more serious crime. For repeat offenders, the Liberals promise to increase the maximum sentence. Women’s groups are expecting support for more shelter spaces, but competition for that money could be fierce, since most of the Liberals’ promised $20-billion social infrastructure fund isn’t slated to flow until after the next election.


 

Parliament is back. Here’s the packed agenda.

  1. By summer Justin Trudeau will dare climate science to end this costly debate and agree a crisis is as real as they agree smoking causes cancer, not 99% real. Yes or no.
    *”inflammatory rhetoric doesn’t necessarily help those families or help Canada,” Mr Trudeau said to DiCaprio.
    *Even Occupy no longer mentions CO2 in it’s list of demands.
    *Don’t be the last guy to wear disco pants to the party and move on from the CO2 exaggeration, no matter how hard you hissy fit hate Harper.

  2. Freeland says Canada has no options re the TPP.
    Yet both the leading Democratic and Republican candidates for the US presidency state they will not support it!
    Sadly, her book on the rich and famous didn’t have a chapter on courageous pro-Canadian leadership.
    And now Justin says he wants a free trade agreement with China while it says – honestly – they want our natural resources” no value-added jobs for Canadians just more shipment of raw logs by BC’s corrupt and feckless Liberal government.
    And what happened to Justin’s “progressive” concern over bill C-51?
    Lost in the glitter of “sunny ways” and endless selfies?
    Celebrity and narcissism are no substitute for substantial pro-Canadian leadership.

  3. Water, food, and housing are the most important necessities for humankind. Houses in Lower Mainland and Metro Vancouver areas including suburbs are skyrocketing tragically. There is huge shortage in houses in these areas too. . Regardless of areas like Vancouver Burnaby Coquitlum and White rock where house prices are in millions of Dollars, Prices in cities like Surrey, Delta, Langley , South Surrey, New West, which used to be relatively affordable have reached 700,000 800,000, 900,000 and even reach $1000000 . If we assume that the income of the family is around $100,000, with reasonable down payment (20 %), and with reasonable interest rate, the family will put almost 70 to 90 % of its income (taxed income) for mortgage only. What kind of quality life this family will have then .?
    House prices in many areas in Lower Mainland have increased up to 30 % in less than a year based on BC Assessments. So if this increase trend continues, the house prices might be doubled in a matter of 3 to 4 years. Is not that ridiculous and frustrating!!!!!! . Yes, the housing dreams of hundreds of thousands of BC resident are being killed. . Only the non very-wealthy people looking for houses are suffering from this housing crisis. Sadly and unfortunately, the government does not seem to do any real actions to resolve this crisis.

    • While I agree this is a huge issue (I’m one of the people who has no hope of buying a house in Vancouver, and too afraid of the bubble to shop for a condo), this isn’t a national issue. The provincial and regional governments should be the ones who determine the causes that are inflating costs and remedying them.

      I refuse to believe that all new house purchases are thoroughly vetted to prove they aren’t made with dirty money, and that foreign ownership isn’t making a problem worse. But without data – there is nothing that can be done.

      • Agreed. The provincial and/or federal governments are totally falling down on the job of requiring the specific data needed to determine how much of an influence offshore money is having on the residential housing market. It would be totally ludicrous if indeed it is the case that offshore investors are playing a significant role in making it impossible for people like you and my kids to be able to afford homes in their own communities.

        BC homes for BC residents.

    • Land – they’re not making any more of it … well actually they are and good chunks of the greater Vancouver area are built on reclaimed land and a significant area is at or below sea level (with rising sea levels, it will only get worse). Unfortunately, Vancouver is just pleasant weather and great scenery. Scarce supply combined with strong demand results in high prices. This leaves the politicians with few choices e.g. mandatory birth control, relocating the less well off to Alberta, converting Stanley Park into condominiums, back-filling Burrard Inlet with nearby mountains or possibly renegotiating the agreement with the US that moved the border from the center of the Columbia River to the 49th parallel. One can clearly see that Stephen Harper visited BC several times over 10+ years, observed that it had way too many mountains and did nothing about it.

    • Ahh is it just me or does Justin appear to be a real person or an extremely advanced hybrid mechanical clone ? His eyes and body language kind of betray an eerie scenario of politician-bots sent here to distract us from the simple fact that human governments can’t even solve the basic issue’s like, poverty, crime, injustice, etc. Look closely at Rona too. I tell you the first clue is their hair….very distracting ! I love to watch them in question period show us dopes how they scrape the first tax dollars off the top for themselves by disagreeing with each other further proving University degree’s do pay…but still I’m thinking those aliens from Mars Attacks are going to burst out of Justin and Rona’s skin and fry the rest of those MP-bots

  4. Rona Ambrose has been hard-nosed, vowing to take all steps needed to block reform of the voting system before any public consultations have even begun? Is she seriously claiming that the majority of Canadians liked seeing Stephen Harper have unbridled power with the support of only 39.6% of the voters? Did she not hear what voters said last October? Here’s a new idea, Rona: if you don’t want the Liberals to propose a reform that helps no one but them (neither do I, and neither to the Liberals I talk to), why don’t you and Scott Reid appoint a democratic reform panel to hold your own consultations and come up with a better voting system? First-past-the-post is dead.

    • AFAIK, the CPC position is that any proposed change to the electoral system needs to be approved by referendum. In and of itself, it’s not an unreasonable position.

      • There is nothing in the Canadian constitution that even remotely hints at referendum as a mechanism for changing our electoral system. But wait, the CPC doesn’t believe in the constitution and in spite of numerous losses in court over constitutional issues continues to oppose adherence to the constitution and even tried to replace the Supreme Court with the PMO. Luckily, they’re no longer in power.

        • And there is nothing in the Constitution that prohibits a referendum as a ratifying or consultative mechanism for a change to the electoral system. So holding a referendum would be entirely consistent with the Constitution.

          Additionally, by holding provincial referendums/plebiscites on proposed electoral system changes, BC, Ontario, and PEI have set something of a precedent.

      • It may not be an unreasonable request, but they ought to know no such thing is required under the electoral system they defend. The point of the First Past The Post winner-take-all electoral system is to gift the single party that wins all the power. Suggesting a referendum is required is disingenuous, particularly after having pass their own “Fair Elections Act.”

        Rather than pretending a referendum is needed, the Conservative Party would better serve their constituents by educating their constituency about the different ways of achieving Proportional Representation.

        • Nowhere have I read (including this article) that the CPC is claiming a referendum is required by law or Constitution.

          As for the CPC educating people about the different ways of achieving proportional representation, that would be the job of the people/parties that want that (which apparently doesn’t include the CPC).

          FWIW, I’m a supporter of AV (AKA preferential ballot) and STV (I voted for it twice in BC). I think FPTP is brain-dead in a multi-party system. However, I’m not in favour of pure PR or normal MMP. I think the Jenkins Commission’s AV+ is worth consideration. And, I am definitively in favour of a referendum.

          I read about an interesting compromise position on a referendum for electoral change. Let the commission do its work and make its recommendation. Implement that change for the next election. The, some time after we’ve been governed by the results of that election, and before the next election, have a referendum on whether to keep the new system or revert to FPTP. Seems like a very reasonable compromise to me.

  5. This article makes a great point.
    The Trudeau haters and detractors and the columnists such as Ivison, Rex Murphy and even Coyne, and many at the CBC, who are negative all the time and have no respect for Trudeau as a person or for sure an intellect have missed something big.
    Every single member of his cabinet is smarter than the person in the Harper cabinet he or she replaced in the same position. Think about it.

    • That is a very broad statement to make about who is smarter.If the Liberal Cabinet is smarter, they are certainly keeping it well hidden.
      Can you deny that many International columnists are laughing at us? Why do we have a crisis in the refugee program where some want to go back to where they were before? It can’t be because the Liberals put together such a brilliant plan can it?

      • I stand by my comparison between the two cabinets.
        I have not seen the negative international media coverage concerning the refugee program.

    • J.W: Did you personally conduct I.Q. tests on the Trudeau Cabinet and the Harper Cabinet?
      Your statement is based on nothing factual and is as worthless as the Canadian Loonie.
      What does J.W. stand for: Justin Worshiper?

      • Just make two lists and compare them side by side.

  6. Hey Justy it’s show time. Time to show the country what kind of an intellectually crippled moron you really are.

  7. > “The case for signing [the TPP] regardless of sectoral impacts, is that Canada can’t afford to be outside a deal that will include 40 per cent of the global economy.”

    We’re being presented with a false dichotomy here. It’s being framed as though our choices are to submit to the TPP or lose all the Pacific countries as trading partners, but suggesting that is completely absurd.

    We can still do business with TPP countries without binding ourselves to the outrageous terms of the TPP.

    • Yes! And the ’40 per cent of the global economy’ is especially misleading as Canada already has free trade deals with a number of TPP members, including the 800 pound gorilla – US, Mexico, Chile. And ongoing negotiations with others – Singapore, Japan.

      See: ht$p://www.international.gc.ca/trade-agreements-accords-commerciaux/agr-acc/fta-ale.aspx?lang=eng

      University of Ottawa Michael Geist has written extensively on the problems with the intellectual property issues of the TPP.

      See: ht$p://www.michaelgeist.ca/tech-law-topics/tpp/

    • If the Canadian Government can find the backbone to turn down the TPP ~ a supposed trade agreement that seeks to usurp or national sovereignty (something we all know is not in Canada’s best interests) ~ it would be a demonstration of real international leadership. Not only that, I imagine many (if not all) the other nations currently who aren’t happy about being bullied into signing on to an agreement weighted down with harmful ISDS provisions would be inclined to follow suit.

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  9. We are very fortunate to have more than enough concrete evidence that no government has yet to, nor will ever, solve basic human issues such as, poverty, crime, justice, and the ever more popular war on the earth’s ecological system. So then we are again left with the fun stuff to look forward to. Having watched in session the arguing on TV… I find our MP’s very entertaining and can’t wait for a few new horses in this race to trot out their useless banal word’s heard in different organized patterns that only explain how lawyer’s, journalist’s, business people, and a mandatory number of women and minority’s use their university degree’s or that station in life to get pay check’s and pension’s out of the poor, uninformed, misled voters of Canada….my bet is we’ll all be whining and complaining soon……at least we have a PM that looks cool, just wish he was a tad smarter

  10. A generous amount of stimulus dollars should go to distressed areas, but also to Toronto, the engine of Canada ‘s economy, and the surrounding hub,including Kitchener-Waterloo and Guelph. As the economic engine, it makes sense that Toronto, and its associated hub, is as efficient as possible in moving goods and services and adequately housing its workforce. I don’t live in Toronto or the surrounding hub but I see the wisdom in this approach. Also asthe zu.S. Economy picks up, infrastructure such as roads, bridges and border-crossings to facilitate exports should be a priority.

  11. “Arguably the toughest challenge in rolling out a federal infrastructure push this year will be making sure enough money goes where the need is greatest—to regions hurting most from the oil price plunge.” What tripe! Government money should be considered as an investment and infrastructure spending should be directed to the places where it will do the most to improve economic productivity: it should not be a handout to portions of the economy that are overly dependent on a non-competitive business proposition. To the extent that infrastructure spending is intended as economic stimulus and given that only so much money is available, the money should be spent where it will contribute most to economic productivity; that doesn’t have to be any currently ‘hurting’ regions since, as we have seen, labor forces are mobile and can just as easily relocate to Quebec or Manitoba as many previously commuted from Newfoundland and Nova Scotia to Alberta. Sadly, there is a common notion that government serves us best by throwing taxpayer money into the least healthy parts of the economy. Hopefully, this doesn’t devolve into rush spending or as with the Harper Government we’ll end up with randomly located gazebos built without any technical requirement other than a target price.

  12. No word yet from the Government on euthanasia and doctor-assisted suicide legislation.
    I guess those suffering unbearably will have to content themselves with marijuana and Kumbaya to ease their pain for a bit longer while the Liberals dither.

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