Political lookahead: Federal parties prepare for the return of Parliament
Published Sunday, January 17, 2016 4:01PM EST
With MPs returning to Parliament Hill on Jan. 25, the federal parties have a busy week ahead preparing for their 2016 debut in the House of Commons.
Here’s a look ahead at the upcoming week in Canadian politics.
Liberal cabinet retreat
Starting on Sunday, the Liberal cabinet will meet at a resort in St. Andrews by-the-Sea, N.B. The retreat marks the cabinet’s first meeting in 2016.
On the agenda – planning the year ahead, federal budget talks and the sluggish economy. The cabinet will have a full day of meetings on Monday before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and some of his ministers head to Davos, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum.
The cabinet retreat comes as Finance Minister Bill Morneau wraps up country-wide pre-budget consultations, where he spent much of his time calming fears about the falling loonie, declining oil prices and discouraging job numbers. The federal budget is expected in mid- to late-March.
Cross-country Conservative consultations
Interim Opposition Leader Rona Ambrose and Conservative Finance Critic Lisa Raitt will start consultations this week ahead of the federal budget.
Last week, Raitt called on Morneau to deliver on his promise of broad and open consultations in preparation for the budget.
“Comments by both the Finance Minister and Wayne Easter paint a clear picture that the Liberals plan on introducing their first budget without formal hearings from the finance committee,” Raitt said in a statement. “The opportunity this committee provides to allow the government to hear from Canadians is an essential part of this process. Skipping this step before tabling a budget is very irresponsible.”
NDP caucus meeting
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair will hold a press conference in Ottawa Monday before leaving for a caucus strategy meeting in Montebello, Que. The caucus will meet from Tuesday to Thursday, where they will prepare for the return of Parliament.
Trudeau heads to Davos
Trudeau will travel to Davos on Tuesday for a gathering of the world’s rich and powerful at the World Economic Forum.
The prime minister is expected to have a speaking slot during the opening day of the four-day meeting. He will speak about his government’s infrastructure promises and tax changes that the Liberals expect will give the Canadian economy a boost. He is also expected to encourage international business to invest in Canada.
Interest rate announcement
Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz will make his latest interest rate announcement on Wednesday in Ottawa. Further cuts to the already record-low rates would be more bad news for the Canadian economy.
And the odds that the central will lower its key interest rate next week are increasing, especially amidst plummeting oil prices. Last week, the Bank of Montreal updated its forecast to predict that the central bank will cut its key lending rate.
The Bank's key overnight interest rate currently sits at 0.5 per cent.
Health ministers meeting
Health Minister Jane Philpott and B.C. Health Minister Terry Lake will co-chair a meeting with their provincial and territorial counterparts in Vancouver this week. The provincial and territorial ministers will meet on Wednesday, and the feds will join the talks on Thursday.
Lake told The Canadian Press that he and his counterparts are looking forward to discussing issues such as chronic disease, funding formulas and drug costs with Philpott.
During the election campaign, the Liberals made a number of health-related promises: to negotiate a new health accord with the provinces and territories, invest $3 billion over the next four years in home care, and improve access to mental health services and medication while lowering the price of prescription drugs.
With files from the Canadian Press