By an overwhelming majority, all respondents want Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to keep his promise regarding electoral reform.
Prime Minister Trudeau indicated in an interview with Le Devoir that electoral reform might not be necessary at this time because Canadians are satisfied with his government.
“Under Mr. Harper, there were so many people dissatisfied with the government and its approach that they were saying, ‘We need an electoral reform so that we can no longer have a government we don’t like,'” Trudeau explained.
“However, under the current system, they now have a government they are more satisfied with. And the motivation to want to change the electoral system is less urgent.”
The Liberal Party did campaign in the last election that the 2015 federal election would be the last fought under the first-past-the-post system.
The government has received criticism for setting up the parliamentary committee on electoral reform in order to put forth a system that would best advantage the Liberal Party of Canada, a ranked ballot system. The government has since conceded to the opposition and modified the committee membership to include all parties in the house of commons.
The United States, the United Kingdon and Canada are the last western democratic countries that continue to use the first-past-the-post voting system.
The government began working on its promise to create a more independent Senate by appointing 7 new members to the upper chamber. The appointments were based on the recommendations of an arms-length advisory board created by the Liberal government.
Here are the new members of the Canadian Senate:
Chantal Petitclerc – former paralympian
Andre Pratte – former editor-in-chief of La Presse
Peter Harder – former federal public servant and head of the Trudeau transition team
Frances Lankin – former NDP cabinet minister and MPP in Ontario
Ratna Omidvar – chair of Lifeline Syria
Raymonde Gagne – former president of Universite Saint-Boniface
Justice Murray Sinclair – first Aboriginal judge in Manitoba and chief commissioner of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Peter Harder was named government representative in the Senate. It will be his job to steer government legislation through the Senate.
The conservatives criticized the appointments. They maintain the new process does nothing to make the appointment of senators more democratic.
Prime Minister Trudeau and the provincial premiers came to a consensus last week on perusing a price on carbon after meeting in Vancouver.
The first ministers will meet again next fall after four working groups report on broad policy areas. The goal will be to develop a “pan-Canadian plan” to combat climate change. The working groups will also examine adaptation and resilience, such as clean infrastructure spending, clean tech innovation and jobs, and climate mitigation strategies.
Some have observed that the Vancouver Declaration’s agreement to examine carbon pricing mechanisms “can be interpreted pretty broadly.”
The federal government campaigned on imposing a national price on carbon, which they insist will be implemented if the provinces fail to come to an agreement.
The government is backing away from a decision to whip the vote on legislation regarding doctor-assisted death. Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc had announced that Liberal MPs would be forced to vote for the legislation, as the matter relates to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Instead, MPs will make a decision of whether to make it a whipped vote when they meet in caucus.
The Supreme Court ruled that Canadians should have the right to doctor-assisted death, and gave the government one year to draft legislation to that effect. With the election and change in government, the new government asked and received an extension from the court to draft the legislation.
The crux of the issue is not whether to allow or not allow doctor-assisted death in Canada, the court has already decided that. The issue that the government is facing is what the legislation will look like.
The Conservative and New Democratic Parties will allow a free vote on the issue.
Prime Minister Trudeau campaigned during the Liberal leadership race and the last federal election that he plans to let his MPs have more say in the House of Commons by allowing them to vote their conscience more often. He indicated three scenarios where MPs would be expected to vote with the party; on commitments made in the party platform, on matters of confidence and matters related to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Then Liberal Party leader Trudeau announced all Liberal MPs would be expected to vote with the party to protect abortion rights for women.
The new session of Parliament is officially underway with the reading of a throne speech sketching out the priorities of the new Liberal government.
The speech, delivered by Gov. Gen. David Johnston, promised a new spirit of openness and civility in Parliament, in which all members, on the government and opposition benches, will be “honoured, respected and heard.”
The speech expanded on five themes that were central to the Liberals’ victory in the Oct. 19 election.
It reiterated the Liberal pledge to cut the tax rate for middle-income earners and provide a more generous child benefit to those who need it, all paid for by a tax hike on the wealthiest one per cent.
It also promised significant new investment in infrastructure to boost the stagnant economy.
The speech highlighted the Liberals democratic reform promises; to run an open and transparent government, reform the House of Commons to empower backbenchers, reform the Senate and replace the first-past-the-post electoral system.
On the environment, it promised to continue working with the provinces to put a price on carbon and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The speech said the government would create a new “nation-to-nation relationship” with indigenous peoples. It also promised to implement the recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission on residential schools and to launch an inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.
The speech also reiterated the Liberals promise to legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana, develop a new health funding accord with the provinces, bring in 25,000 Syrian refugees by the end of February and support the CBC.
To read the text of the entire speech, click here.
Prime Minister Trudeau named 35 Liberal MPs as parliamentary secretaries in anticipation of the House of Commons resuming sitting this week. Parliamentary secretaries assist and represent ministers in their absence, including taking questions on the minister’s behalf.
The Prime Minister will have three parliamentary secretaries. While three may seem like a lot, Trudeau appears to be following in the footsteps of former PM Paul Martin who also used three and assigned some specific areas of focus.
Considered junior ministers, high-performing parliamentary secretaries often get promoted to the front bench. It is also considered a consolation prize for those passed over for cabinet.
For a list of the new parliamentary secretaries, click here.