Dec 2015 ColumnDecember 1, 2015
Parliament will open on Thursday, December 3rd. This will be Canada’s 42nd Parliament since Confederation in 1867. On the first day, newly elected MPs in the House of Commons will elect a Speaker. On the second day, the Queen’s representative, Governor General David Johnston, will deliver the Speech from the Throne in the Senate. The Speech will outline the agenda of the newly appointed government of Prime Minister Trudeau.
The start of Parliament also means the start of the House of Commons, where the new government – the Prime Minister and his cabinet – is accountable to elected MPs and, by extension, to Canadians. MPs will be asking questions of the new government, regarding election promises and actions taken since the government’s appointment on November 4th.
A number of issues need to be addressed by the new Liberal government.
The new Liberal government has adopted the previous Conservative government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets: a 17 per cent reduction of GHGs below 2005 levels by 2020 and a 30 per cent reduction below 2005 levels by 2030. At the UN climate change conference in Paris in early December, the new government needs to ensure that commitments made by Canada are part of a larger global agreement that includes all major emitters, such as the US, China and India. They also need to ensure that their commitments lead to action.
The new government needs to address concerns about their plan to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. The Liberal government has already acknowledged that their election promise to bring in 25,000 refugees by year-end was unrealistic and irresponsible. Accordingly, they reduced the number of government sponsored refugees to 15,000 and have extended the year-end deadline into the new year. However, unanswered questions remain. The government must fully account for the costs and ensure that proper processes are in place to both screen and care for these refugees.
Finally, Mr. Trudeau indicated during the election that Canada would withdraw our fighter jets from the international military coalition combatting the Islamic State. The government has not yet withdrawn our CF-18s, and ought to reconsider that decision in light of the recent attacks in Paris. It would send the wrong message to the Islamic State and to our allies if we were to withdraw at this time.
Carrie and I, and our three boys, wish you and your family all the best for the holidays, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.