After several days of midnight sittings, the House of Commons has risen for the summer. Before adjourning, the House passed the majority of outstanding government legislation. MPs are largely expected to be recalled to the House later this summer to push through Bill C-100 (CUSMA) before the writ drops for the election. In the meantime, all MPs are now back in their ridings ready to campaign hard in the final months before October.
This session proved challenging for the federal Liberals in the wake of scandals, trade issues, an independent activist Senate and legal woes that led to their lowest polling numbers since taking office in 2015. With bleeding from the SNC Lavalin affair and (to a lesser extent) the Vice-Admiral Norman case behind them, the Liberals are hoping to remind Canadians of sunnier days and sunny ways as they shift focus to their biggest challenge yet – remaining in government.
While challenges within caucus seem to have slowed, the Liberals still face massive hurdles both on the international front and domestically. Ongoing issues with China vis-à-vis trade and diplomacy are proving to be a sore spot for the Liberals as farmers and ag groups across the country are feeling the consequences – something the Conservatives have been quick to capitalize on.
Seemingly unable to prove to voters that the “environment and the economy go hand in hand,” the Liberals face criticism on the left for their recent approval of the TMX pipeline – despite declaring a climate emergency the day prior – and criticism on the right for putting a price on pollution. Loud criticism from the provinces on the Carbon Tax, namely Ontario and Alberta, have exacerbated this debate, which is expected to be front and centre when the Prime Minister hosts Canada’s premiers at the upcoming First Minister’s Meeting in Saskatoon from July 9th-11th. This, coupled with a growing “green wave” sweeping much of Eastern Canada are making environmental policy one of the most divisive issues across the country.
In recent weeks the government seems to have diverged from some of the core themes previously prioritized in the federal budget in an attempt to shape the tone and themes of the upcoming election on their terms. This has included an approval of the TMX pipeline, a strong focus on CUSMA, national pharmacare and the single use plastics ban.