Politics

Trudeau to convene new Parliament on Dec. 5

Published Nov. 12, 2019 9:26 a.m. ET
Updated Nov. 12, 2019 12:21 p.m. ET

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OTTAWA – Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will convene the new Parliament on Thursday, December 5, comprised of all the members Canadians elected on Oct. 21.

The Liberal minority-led 43rd Parliament will begin with MPs electing a new House of Commons Speaker, and then Governor General Julie Payette will preside over Trudeau’s throne speech in the Senate.

The election of a new speaker — the impartial overseer of parliamentary procedure and head of House administration — is done by secret ballot. Those interested in the role are likely already reaching out to their colleagues to garner support.

In the throne speech, Trudeau will unveil what his government’s priorities will be and it’s likely to include major aspects of their 2019 federal election platform such as climate change, affordability, gun control and pharmacare. These are also issues spoken to by other parties during the 40-day campaign.

Because of the renovations underway inside Centre Block, the House of Commons and Senate are now located in different buildings, which will add an extra layer of logistical considerations to the ceremony, which traditionally has the MPs walk down the hall from one chamber to the other, but now that procession will have to travel down Wellington Street from West Block to the Senate of Canada Building.

MPs will then spend up to six days debating the throne speech. The House of Commons calendar has members of Parliament sitting until Dec. 13, before adjourning for several weeks over the holidays, but the Senate could sit until Dec. 20.

All this week, the PM is in meetings with the opposition party leaders to see where common ground may be found. Last week Trudeau indicated that these meetings would inform when to call the House of Commons back, but he announced this before the first meeting today with Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer got underway.

On his way into his meeting with Scheer Tuesday, Trudeau said he was “looking forward to cooperating together.” Scheer had called on Trudeau to reconvene the Commons on Nov. 25.

During a joint photo-op in the Prime Minister’s West Block office at the beginning of their meeting, Trudeau said it was “a pleasure” to sit down with Scheer, the leader of the Official Opposition.

“Last month, Canadians elected a Parliament that they expect to work together and that’s exactly what I’m going to be focusing on doing,” Trudeau said.

Scheer said he appreciated the opportunity to discuss what his party’s priorities will be and to know when the new session is getting underway.

“Our country is more divided than it ever has been. We need to get to work as quickly as possible so that we can address the priorities of Canadians and bring our country closer together,” Scheer said.

Around 30 minutes later Scheer left Trudeau’s office and said his party’s support for the throne speech, seen to be the Liberal’s first confidence vote they’ll need to pass to remain in power, will depend on what’s in it.

“It’s up to Mr. Trudeau to find common ground to get his throne speech passed,” Scheer said.

In a statement his office said Scheer raised several Conservative campaign initiatives he wants to see the Liberals take up, including calling on Trudeau to launch a task force to study creating a national energy corridor, tax-free maternity benefits, bringing in stronger penalties for conflict of interest breaches, and repealing environmental regulation legislation.

Scheer said that he doesn’t have anything planned “at the moment” to meet or talk with the other opposition party leaders to see whether common ground could be found amongst them.

While large ideological differences separate them, together all opposition parties hold enough seats to defeat the government should they decide to unite on an issue.

Over the last two weeks the opposition parties have been meeting with their caucuses on Parliament Hill, where the 98 new MPs have been going through orientation sessions.

Given the minority dynamics, more collaboration will be required between the government and other parties in order to see initiatives passed in this parliament

The prime minister is scheduled to unveil his new cabinet on Nov. 20, giving them fewer than two weeks to get up to speed on their files before taking their seats in the House of Commons.

Trudeau spent several days in private meetings lately, where he’s likely been having conversations about the composition of his front benches. With all but two current ministers holding their seats and several newcomers considered by the party to be star candidates, there’s going to have to be a shakeup but how dramatic it’ll be remains to be seen.

Dec. 5 will be the first time all MPs elected on Oct. 21 will be in Ottawa. The Liberals won 157 seats, the Conservatives won 121, the Bloc Quebecois won 32, the NDP won 24, the Greens won three and Independent Jody Wilson-Raybould was re-elected.


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