Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday January 23, 2020
What we know about the Liberal plan for Parliament after the cabinet retreat
For two and a half days, the Liberal cabinet huddled at the Fairmont Hotel in Winnipeg, focusing on their objectives amid the context of their new reality: a minority government that will need opposition support to get anything done.
But from the prime minister’s closing news conference Tuesday and the ministers who spoke publicly when the retreat wrapped up, we still don’t have a full sense of the legislation the Liberals will table this winter — and they certainly made enough promises during the election campaign to keep Parliament busy.
We know the first order of business when the House resumes next week: to ratify the new NAFTA trade deal, CUSMA.
“Passing the new NAFTA in Parliament is our priority,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Whether it will pass, however, is another question. The Bloc Quebecois won’t support the new deal without more supports for aluminum workers, and neither the NDP nor the Conservatives are clear on their support, with both parties having said they want to review it closely.
Trudeau also spoke generally of other commitments, such as pharmacare, protecting the environment and stricter gun control measures, but offered no specifics on what may come forward as legislation or when.
“We’re stepping up to the plate. Just take our pledge to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and to preserve more of Canada’s land and oceans,” said Trudeau.
“We’re taking real action to protect our environment.”
The prime minister, however, didn’t say what that action is, nor did he give any clues as to how his government would reach net zero emissions by 2050, amid criticism that Canada is not on track to meet its current targets for 2030.
On implementing a national pharmacare plan, another campaign promise short on details, the health minister couldn’t commit to any legislation this winter.
Here, the Liberals could face opposition not just from other federal parties, but from provinces and territories, as well, with health care a provincial responsibility.
The headlines of the Liberal plan for the winter sessions may be clear — NAFTA, pharmacare, gun control, climate action — but how and when they plan to move on most of them remains a mystery. (Global News)