MPs agree to form special Canada-U.S. relations committee
OTTAWA -- The House of Commons will be forming a special committee on Canada-U.S. economic relations, after the majority of MPs agreed to pass a Conservative proposal to set one up.
The move passed on Tuesday with the backing of the governing Liberals, as well as the opposition Bloc Quebecois and NDP. The Green Party voted against the motion.
Specifically, the committee is being tasked with evaluating “all aspects of” the economic relationship between the two nations. The move comes on the heels of U.S. President Joe Biden rejecting the Keystone XL pipeline.
It is expected that some of the first orders of business will include probing the Enbridge Line 5 pipeline and the consequences that would come should it be shut down, as well as the Biden administration’s ‘Buy America’ policies and the need to protect Canadian interests in light of that approach.
Proposed as an opposition day motion by the Official Opposition, it’s the second time the Conservative caucus has advanced and succeeded in setting up a special committee of this sort, following the formation of the special Canada-China committee in early 2020.
As part of the rationale for this proposal, the Conservatives cited that trade between Canada and the United States exceeds $1.5 billion per day.
This committee will be comprised of 12 members: six Liberal MPs including the chair, four Conservatives, and one MP from the Bloc Quebecois and NDP respectively, with participants to be named by Thursday.
The first meeting is set to happen next week. MPs on this committee will have the ability to invite cabinet ministers, ambassadors, senior officials, and other key stakeholders or experts to testify, and can decide what specific Canada-U.S. economic issues it wants to prioritize probing.
Celebrating the formation of the committee, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole said the committee will “help advance one of most important pillars of our recovery, the economic relationship between Canada and the United States.”
“The Canada-U.S. committee will get answers for Canadians,” he said.
Already, calls will be going out to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs Marc Garneau, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade Mary Ng, and the Ambassador of Canada to the United States of America Kirsten Hillman.
The decision to enact this new committee comes despite there being existing parliamentary committees that consider international trade, the economy, natural resources, and foreign relations, as Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau noted during the initial debate on this proposal.
As Canada continues to form new ties with the Democratic administration after four years of often tense relations under former U.S. president Donald Trump, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was Biden’s first foreign leader call.
On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said that the next meeting between Biden and Trudeau may be a video call, adding that it could be months before any in-person invitations go out to other world leaders due to the ongoing pandemic and related travel restrictions.