While the House of Commons may have risen for the summer break in late June, it’s already a busy summer in Canadian politics:
- The recent G20 summit left many questions unresolved on issues of foreign and trade policy.
- The government’s payment and apology to Omar Khadr divided the nation.
- The Bank of Canada’s first interest rate increase in seven years may reflect confidence in sustainable economic growth, but will also likely cool the housing market. and,
- The National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls continued to face challenges following the resignation of its executive director.
- Canada will soon have a new Governor General, the former astronaut Julie Payette.
- The Finance Minister unveiled proposed tax changes affecting private corporations, which is causing widespread concern from small business advocates across the country.
From our Ottawa office, Argyle TACT is monitoring all the developments and already thinking ahead to September 18th when the House resumes.
Team Trudeau is busy behind the scenes this summer conducting deep political strategy given the Liberals will soon hit the midway point of this mandate. It is possible that the early fall will see a Cabinet shuffle and a Speech from the Throne to refocus the nation’s political agenda on the government’s pre-election priorities.
Across the aisle in the House, there are further challenges for the Prime Minister with the recent election of Andrew Scheer as Conservative leader, with his NDP counterpart to be elected this fall. The summer will be crucial for the NDP leadership to grab headlines and attention for their leadership process to generate excitement. For the Conservatives, Mr. Scheer’s imperatives are to keep the Conservative Party united while defining himself and presenting his own image of leadership. We expect Mr. Scheer will leverage several issues – such as China, Omar Khadr and carbon pricing – to strengthen his base and soften some traditional Liberal vote constituencies.
The Cannabis Act – Implementation Delay?
We are watching with interest how provinces are preparing their approach to the Cannabis Act to legalize marijuana and new regulations for law enforcement and retail distribution. This major election priority of the Liberals has a very aggressive July 2018 implementation goal that certain provinces are vocally challenging. In fact, Premiers met in Edmonton in mid July and articulated a clear consensus that they are not ready for the July 2018 implementation timeframe without clarifications from Ottawa on public health issues such as extra funding to address new responsibilities as a result of legalization. A provincial working group will report in early November on options for the Trudeau government to consider if the original timeframe is to be met. Then, in early September, the federal Standing Committee on Health is expected to undergo a full week of stakeholder hearings setting the stage for some crucial industry, commercial, social service and retail insights on approaching legalization.
Tension, Trade and the Trump Administration
We also believe the Trump administration will continue to receive plenty of attention in Canada given the uncertainty over trade and climate change policies and in particular, the July 17th release of their key objectives in renegotiating the 23-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement. While Canada is a proud trading partner to the United States, there is pressure to modernize NAFTA.
Looking Ahead to the Fall
Polls go up and down but during summer time, usually, governments tend to increase their level of support in the polls. According to pollsters, the Liberals are enjoying a double-digit lead over the Conservatives and the NDP struggles to maintain itself above 15% of support.
How the summer activities unfold on these many moving parts will influence a potential shuffle, speech from the throne and of course, Budget 2018 that is expected to identify key priorities and investments to, among others, bolster the middle class and deliver on infrastructure programs in cities across Canada.
We believe the fall session will see a more aggressive parliamentary agenda and a more partisan tone in the House as we hit the second half of the mandate. It is a critical time for the Trudeau Liberals who need to balance photo-ops with serious governing as voters will start paying attention to these issues that speak to the government’s ability to lead. The first 18 months of Prime Minister Trudeau’s government featured an initial change in tone, an image overhaul of official Ottawa and the pursuit of Liberal promises and priorities. Now, the Trudeau government enters a crucial phase of this mandate in which it must demonstrate tangible results to Canadians.
Argyle TACT’s government relations team is close to the ground in Ottawa, monitoring the developments and engaging directly with decision-makers. Please let us know how we can help you. We are available to discuss our insights into how change in Ottawa affects you and your business. Please contact either David Gourlay at firstname.lastname@example.org or Yan Plante at email@example.com.