PM lacks confidence

As I write this week’s report, we are in a tense situation in Ottawa as there is a serious threat of a possible fall election.

This raises the obvious question, how did we get to this point?

As many will know, during the summer many disturbing details emerged as a result of the Trudeau Liberal government giving the WE Charity foundation a sole-sourced contract in excess of $500 million.

The fallout included the Prime Minister apologizing, multiple ethics investigations being launched and finally the departure of Finance Minister Bill Morneau.

There were also several parliamentary committees sitting and hearing evidence on the details how it was that the WE Charity foundation received a sole-sourced contract in excess of $500 million.

In August, despite the fact that the House of Commons was already adjourned until Sept. 21, the Prime Minister broke his promise to never use prorogation and prorogued Parliament until Sept. 23 to shut these committees down.

Now that Parliament has resumed, these same parliamentary committees have attempted to resume hearing this evidence but were unable to do so as the Liberal members filibustered them.

In order to avoid the filibustering, the Conservative opposition used an opposition day motion in the House of Commons to propose that:

A new parliamentary committee be created

Would not be chaired by a Liberal MP

Would reflect the minority status of this Liberal government.

Although this motion was initially supported by the NDP and Bloc Québécois opposition parties, the Trudeau Liberal government declared it a confidence motion. 

This means that if the motion was to pass, the government would fall and trigger an election.

To be clear, both the Leader of the Conservatives as well as the Leader of the NDP have stated it is not their intention to provoke an election.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister is so determined to prevent the WE information from being further studied at any parliamentary committee, he would rather call an election. 

This raises the obvious question as to what may be hiding in the redacted documents and other unknown details.

The Prime Minister has argued that this motion is by default an expression of a lack of confidence in his Liberal Government as justification for declaring this a confidence vote.

The Prime Minister is wrong.

Until Canadians have all the information how can anyone determine if they have confidence or do not have confidence in this situation?

The entire point of creating a committee would be to learn the facts so that Canadians can have an informed view on what really transpired.

However, the Prime Minister at the moment is determined to prevent that from occurring.

Will this lead to an election? 

At the moment there is considerable negotiating going on and I am hopeful the Prime Minister will back down.

The PM may not like a parliamentary committee studying the actions of his government however Canadians elected a minority government for a reason and the PM must respect that.

My question this week:

What are your thoughts on a possible fall election? 

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


Single-use plastic ban

One of the challenges for any government is what is referred to as “getting your message out.”

For example, with so many different media stories in circulation last week, the announcement regarding the potential ban of certain single use plastics may have been missed.

What was announced?

In summary, a list of plastic items that the government hopes to ban by the end of 2021.

What is on the current list? The following plastic items:

  • Grocery store bags
  • Straws
  • Six-pack can holding rings
  • Plastic cutlery
  • Certain food takeout containers if they are made from hard-to-recycle plastics.

As is often the case with most government announcements, concerns have already been raised.

In order to legally facilitate this ban, the government has suggested it will add these plastics to the “toxic substances list” that exists under the Canadian Environmental Protection Act.

Unfortunately, the Chemistry Industry Association of Canada has pointed out that these types of plastics are not toxically harmful in the same manner that substances such as mercury, asbestos and lead are.

This creates a challenge for the government with the classification.

Another concern that has been raised stems from trade-related issues.

An outright ban on these plastics may contradict principles of the recently renegotiated NAFTA deal, now frequently referred to as the CUSMA (Canada United States Mexico Agreement).

There is some debate on the legitimacy of these trade related concerns, however, it is clear that some consultation will be required.

The broader level of concern being heard more from a local level is understandably from the food-and-beverage industries and more so given that there is a pandemic and we are witnessing a greater public safety related reliance on single use plastics compared to more normal times.

It has also been communicated to me that, during a crisis, single-use plastic may be necessary in a range of areas, from seniors care homes to helping to feed wildfire firefighters and other emergency responders.

It is critically important that alternatives to single-use plastics are readily and affordably available considering there will be a significant uptake in demand.

As many of these alternatives will likely be made from wood or cardboard, I see a long-term economic benefit to parts of my riding, and to British Columbia in general, given that our forest industry could play an active role in this.

Consultation will be important, as will a timeline that respects the pandemic and the ability for alternative products to become readily available.

My question this week:

  • What are your thoughts on this proposed ban of single use plastics?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

What are your priorities?

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau having prorogued Parliament, a situation was created where the government must now start over in submitting bills and legislation through the House of Commons. 

This is also an important process because it indicates what the government views as important priorities for Canadians.

This week, the government tabled two new bills into the House of Commons.

  • Bill C-6 — An Act to amend the Criminal Code (to ban conversion therapy)
  • Bill C-7 — An Act to amend the Criminal Code (medical assistance in dying).

Bill C-6 defines conversion therapy as therapy that “aims to change an individual’s sexual orientation to heterosexual, to repress or reduce non-heterosexual attraction or sexual behaviours, or to change an individual’s gender identity to match the sex they were assigned at birth.”

This bill proposes five new Criminal Code offences that include: “causing a minor to undergo conversion therapy, removing a minor from Canada to undergo conversion therapy abroad, causing a person to undergo conversion therapy against their will, profiting from providing conversion therapy and advertising an offer to provide conversion therapy.”

Bill C-7 came about after a Quebec court ruled that the current law was too restrictive. 

More specifically the requirement that only people who are facing "foreseeable death" can receive aid to die is considered too narrow a criterion.

It has also been argued this can lead to a situation where there is additional pain and suffering.

The new bill proposes several changes, some of those include: removing the requirement for a person’s natural death to be reasonably foreseeable in order to be eligible for medical assistance in dying.

It is also proposed to introduce “a two-track approach to procedural safeguards based on whether or not a person’s natural death is reasonably foreseeable.”

At the same time, it is proposed that “existing safeguards will be maintained and certain ones will be eased for eligible persons whose death is reasonably foreseeable.”

There will be “new and modified safeguards will be introduced for eligible persons whose death is not reasonably foreseeable."

I should add that it is the intent of the new proposed legislation to exclude eligibility for individuals who suffering solely from mental illness.

In addition, there will be some proposed changes to the waiver process.

My question this week:

  • What priorities would you like to see coming forward in Parliament?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.


Massive failure by PM

Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament in August, it was not set to resume regular sittings until Sept. 21

Once the PM broke his promise not to use prorogation, he did  to shut down the parliamentary committees investigating the WE scheme.

Parliament was again further delayed until Sept. 23.

Last Wednesday was Sept. 23 and became the date of the Throne Speech that I covered in last week’s report.

This week, the government tabled Bill C-4, the latest COVID relief response bill.

It was disappointing that the Trudeau Liberal government only allowed just over four hours to debate a bill that will exceed $50 billion worth of deficit spending.

Why did the Trudeau Liberal government do this?

Because there was not enough time after existing programs all ran out.

By proroguing Parliament, and delaying the return of the House, the time that should have been spent properly debating and reviewing this bill at committee stage was lost.

In other words, the Prime Minister created this situation solely to cover for the WE scandal and that has now come at the expense of legitimate democratic debate on a critically important bill.

Why does debate and committee stage review matter?

During this pandemic response, a significant number of gaps and unintended barriers have prevented those in need from getting the help a response program was intended to provide.

As a result, during these past months, the government has been playing catch up, typically after these gaps and barriers were pointed out by the Opposition. 

Some people still have not received help because of this approach.

In this instance, Parliament finally had an opportunity to be proactive and study and debate a critically important bill prior to it coming into effect.

Instead, the Prime Minister was more concerned with shutting down Parliament so the parliamentary committees that were uncovering uncomfortable and alarming evidence about the WE scheme.

So this opportunity for proactive debate and study was squandered.

This is a massive failure by the Prime Minister, putting the need for political cover over the importance of properly debating and studying the COVID bill. 

The bill was ultimately passed unanimously, however, it was not studied and committee nor was it extensively debated.

As a result there are many unknown details.

For example, how smoothly will the CERB benefit transition into the new EI version of this benefit?

Likewise, Canadians still don't know the status is of the EI account (which is paid for, through premiums, by employees and employers) and if these proposed new programs are sustainable.

These are all very serious questions and there is no answer to date.

My question this week: 

  • Are you satisfied with the current direction of this Liberal government?

I can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

More Dan in Ottawa articles

About the Author

Dan Albas, Conservative member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola, is the Shadow Minister for Environment and Climate Change.

Before entering public life, Dan was the owner of Kick City Martial Arts, responsible for training hundreds of men, women and youth to bring out their best.

Dan  is consistently recognized as one of Canada’s top 10 most active Members of Parliament on Twitter (@danalbas) and also continues to write a weekly column published in many local newspapers and on this website.

MP Dan welcomes comments, questions and concerns from citizens and is often available to speak to groups and organizations on matters of federal concern. 

He can be reached at [email protected] or call toll free at 1-800-665-8711.

The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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