On June 20, the House of Commons rose, for what could be the final time before the fall election. The following day, the Senate of Canada wrapped up its business and the governor general signed a host of bills into law. These are the changes that the governing Liberals will be promoting on the barbeque circuit, while opposition MPs will be talking about their party’s plan for the future.
MPs and new party candidates are preparing for a protracted campaign that, while it may not officially begin until after Labor Day, is already well underway.
The New Democratic Party (NDP) released their visioning document that highlights a commitment to people over profits for corporations. At the same time, the Conservatives are delivering specific plans across a range of voter issues, from resource development and infrastructure to climate change and the environment. The Liberals, for their part, will remain focused on getting the word out about their record and commitments made in the most recent budget. Whether you agree with their approach or not, it is clear that the government has had difficulty making Canadians aware of progress that has been made. Coupled with scandals and the fact that they are behind in the polls, this is shaping up to be one of the most interesting elections.
From city to city and town to town, politicians will be active whether they are securing nominations, looking to take down incumbents, or trying to hold on to their seats. For the Liberals, pursuing a second majority was the focus a year ago, however, holding on to government is their primary aim. In the final days of the sitting, the prime minister and his team put up as much of a fight as they could muster following six months of steady political damage.
Trudeau announced that his government had approved the Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion project (for a second time). The move was widely expected. But few observers knew how the government would pacify its environmentally focused base of supporters, while showing corporate Canada that it could weather some political fallout to get a deal done. In the announcement, the prime minister committed to spending every dollar of tax revenue raised from the project to support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The implications of that spending could be profound, with up to $5 billion in revenue expected annually. The money may be directed to climate change mitigation efforts that could range from programs for small household upgrades to investments in mega projects that reshape Canada’s power grid. The lack of structure has many stakeholder groups tuned in to the possibility that their industry or segment could see an influx of cash while Canada moves toward more carbon-neutral environmental growth overall.
Premier Jason Kenney in Alberta was supportive of the decision, while British Columbia Premier John Horgan remained staunchly opposed. The Liberals may lose every seat that they’ve gained in Alberta in October, but British Columbia remained more fertile ground for political gains. Business groups at large were supportive, while environmental groups, unsurprisingly, called foul.
Though the reaction to the pipeline decision was mixed, the country stands more united on the need to get a trade deal done with the United States and Mexico. Nearly all sectors and provincial leaders would like to see progress before the election. Enabling legislation remains tabled in the House of Commons. MPs and senators could be called back to Ottawa at a moment’s notice if the USMCA begins to move forward in the House of Representatives.
The conditions south of the border make it unclear whether the trade agreement will proceed before the election. On what was the last sitting day of the 41st Parliament, the prime minister was in Washington, D.C., drumming up support for the agreement and putting pressure on Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. Even a glimmer of hope is worth pursuing for Trudeau, who needs a very strong economic win to put wind in his party’s sails.
Over the coming months, we’ll be working to connect Canadian members of AED with their local candidates to ensure the message about infrastructure and economic growth is being heard. You will be receiving background materials over the coming weeks to make sure you can host site visits or attend a local town hall armed with information that is important to Canada’s equipment dealers. As always, we will keep you informed about new developments as the summer goes on.