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Chris Gray is a Senior Consultant based in Ottawa who worked on Parliament Hill as a legislative assistant for the Liberals. Chris can be contacted at chris@grassrootspa.ca.

Speech from the Throne

Last week, the Governor General opened the 43rd Parliament with the reading of the Speech from the Throne. The speech largely re-iterated many priorities that the governing Liberals laid out in their election platform – addressing climate change will remain a top priority, increasing the personal income tax exemption to $15,000 will be one of the first bills introduced in the House, finding a workable solution to pharmacare and working to improve gun control measures.

With a minority Parliament and a brand new Speaker (Liberal MP Anthony Rota) the government will need to find concessions with the other parties on an issue-by-issue basis – however, no party truly wants to throw the country back into an election and the Liberals only need the backing of one of the parties to hold the confidence of the House. Both the NDP and the Conservatives have said that they will not support the government’s Throne Speech – however, the Bloc will support it, giving the Liberals the necessary votes in the House of Commons to pass.

Meet the new Ministers

On November 20th, the government’s gender balanced cabinet ministers were sworn in at Rideau Hall. Below are some new Ministers or those with a new portfolio:

Jonathan Wilkinson (North Vancouver) was promoted to Minister of Environment after serving as Parliamentary Secretary to Environment and Minister of Fisheries in the last Parliament. He takes over a tough and demanding portfolio from Catherine McKenna and will be front and centre leading the government’s agenda to tackle climate change. The Chief of Staff to Minister Wilkinson is Marlo Reynolds. (Image retrieved from OurCommons.ca)

Steven Guilbeault (Laurier-Sainte Marie) is one of Trudeau’s “star” new MPs from the island of Montréal. A founding member of Équiterre, a Quebec environmental organization, he was also director and campaign manager for the Greenpeace Quebec chapter for ten years. His Chief of Staff is Mathieu Bouchard. (Image retrieved from the Government of Canada)

Mona Fortier (Ottawa-Vanier) is now in her second term and has been rewarded with her first cabinet position. Prior to being elected, Minister Fortier worked as the Chief Director of Communications and Market Development at Collège La Cité and managed her own strategic communications consulting firm. (Image retrieved from the Government of Canada)

Looking ahead – next steps

The House of Commons will now sit for the next week to largely debate the various elements of the Throne Speech. Once the House rises on December 13th (if not earlier) MPs will resume their regular schedule of a lengthy winter break to work in their constituencies. Parliament will resume on January 27th. Committees will be set soon so stakeholders will want to engage with these MPs on their specific issues. Meetings in the ridings in January are often a good idea to plant seeds with MPs on your issues. The government will soon be thinking about the 2020 federal budget. Ministers will have an opportunity to provide input into the Finance Minister and his office on their priority issues. The House of Commons Finance Committee will hold pre-budget consultations in the New Year and invite stakeholders to present before the committee. The Finance Committee’s report must be tabled in the House of Commons by February 28th, 2020.

If you are considering making a pre-budget submission and engaging with government to try to get a line in the budget, now is the time to think about meeting with MPs, staff and Ministers to discuss your ideas and requests. Grassroots Public Affairs can help you along the way – feel free to reach out and ask our advice!