Liberals hold Sunday caucus meeting ahead of Parliament’s return
Published Sunday, January 24, 2016 5:40PM EST
Liberal MPs were back on Parliament Hill today for a rare Sunday caucus meeting to prepare for the resumption of the House of Commons on Monday.
MPs were greeted by reporters as they arrived on the Hill for the orientation session.
Liberal Caucus Chair Francis Scarpaleggia said the caucus will meet and also hear from officers of Parliament.
While there was no sign of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the session -- he was taking part in private appointments, according to his office -- a number of cabinet ministers and parliamentary secretaries were at the meeting.
LeBlanc: Economy in a ‘tough place’
Speaking to reporters Sunday, Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc said “it’s not a secret the economy is in a tough place.” The Canadian economy has recently taken a hit from plummeting oil prices and a slumping dollar, making the government acutely aware of the need for a boost.
“I know the minister of finance is, in a rather methodical and rigorous way, looking at a whole series of decisions that will likely be included in a budget,” said LeBlanc. “The government is conscious of the need to stimulate the economy.”
Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Employment Rodger Cuzner said Canadians across the country are feeling the effects of the slowed economy.
“I think every Canadian is somewhat concerned,” said Cuzner. “Coming from the east coast and Cape Breton … we can feel the slowdown in Alberta.”
Cape Bretoners working in the Alberta oil sands have been hit hard by the layoffs as companies try to cut costs amidst plummeting oil prices.
The government will prioritize stimulus measures, such as infrastructure spending, in an effort to boost the economy and create jobs. During the election, the Liberals promised to spend $60 billion over the next decade on infrastructure.
Carr: Expect more investment in renewable energy, green tech
Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said the government will lead a medium- and long-term transition that will invest in renewable sources of energy and green technology.
“That’s the new reality in the world and we’re part of it. And that will be reflected in regulatory processes and how we make decisions from here on in,” said Carr.
The minister’s comments come as the Conservative Official Opposition prepares to make pipelines a “huge priority” as Parliament resumes on Monday.
Pipelines made their way to the top of the political agenda last week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, encouraged the world’s elite to see Canada for more than just its natural resources. Pipelines also made headlines last week when Montreal-area mayors publicly denounced TransCanada’s Energy East pipeline.
Dion: Gov’t still considering ISIS role
Foreign Affairs Minister Stephane Dion said the government is still considering what the future of Canada’s role in U.S.-led coalition against ISIS will look like.
“The problem is to select (an option) because we have a lot of proposals coming from other countries and we need to select in order to be optimal in our choices,” said Dion. “You have about 63 partners in the coalition and we want to be sure that what we will do will reinforce what the coalition is doing and will not be only a duplication.”
The Liberals have committed to withdraw Canada’s CF-18 fighter jets from the coalition, but further details for the future of the mission haven’t been solidified. Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said a decision will be made soon.
“We’re working out a few details right now and we’ll be taking it to cabinet very shortly,” said Sajjan.
Justice minister: Doctor-assisted suicide on the agenda
Justice Minister Jody-Wilson Raybould said she will be looking to a Senate-Commons committee as the government prepares to draft new legislation recognizing the right of consenting adults in mental or physical pain to have a doctor help them end their lives.
“Without question it’s an incredibly difficult and sensitive issue,” Wilson-Raybould told reporters. “We’re going to approach this in an open manner that’s comprehensive, to come up with a thoughtful, responsible solution.”
The committee will report back with legislative recommendations by Feb. 26.
The government is under pressure to draft the legislation quickly. Despite the Liberals’ request for a six-month extension to respond to the judgement, the Supreme Court granted the government a four-month extension on Jan. 15.
Robert Oliphant, co-chair of Special Joint Committee on Physician-Assisted Dying, said that while it is going to be a “sprint” to draft the new law, he wants to ensure all voices are heard on the issue ahead of the report.
“I think that my job is to make sure that Canadians see themselves in the report that we make,” said Oliphant. “So I’m not terribly nervous. I think that there’s a variety of opinions. Most Canadians, in every poll I have read, have looked for a way to find some assistance for people at point of death.”
With files from The Canadian Press