This is a brief overview of some of the federal issues facing our community.

DEFICIT

  • A December Parliamentary Budget Officer report estimated the country’s deficit at $26.1 billion for 2018-2019, and predicted it could reach $31.1 billion next year. Justin Trudeau’s campaign promise of a balanced budget was for October 2019.
  • The same report also found the oil price decline could reduce Canada’s GDP by billions of dollars annually, potentially leading to a worse deficit.
  • However, Justin Trudeau has publicly said he isn’t concerned the deficit could impact Canada’s ability to deal with unexpected events like economic downturns.

UN COMPACT FOR MIGRATION

  • In December, the Trudeau government signed Canada onto the United Nations’ Compact for Migration, an international framework on migrant rights.
  • Costs associated with signing onto the compact, or measures relating to implementing the compact, are unknown and the government has not provided any cost estimates.
  • The government admits non-binding agreements like this compact can become customary international law and can inform the interpretation of domestic law.

PIPELINES

  • Since purchasing the Trans Mountain Expansion Project last year, the federal government has done little to revitalize the project. The federal Court of Appeal issued a decision against the pipeline, ordering the government to do more Indigenous consultation. Consultations are expected to be completed this spring.
  • Justin Trudeau also failed to deliver promised legislation to assert federal authority over the project, and voted against Senate Bill S-245, which would have provided that authority.
  • As a result of these events, American oil companies are receiving a $100 million dollar a day discount on Canadian oil because Canadian oil cannot reach international markets. This means less revenue to provinces and territories to pay for essential services and Canada’s reputation as a safe and predictable place to invest bas been severely damaged.
  • Despite renewed interest in the Energy East pipeline, the Prime Minister has publicly stated that project won’t go forward because “there is no support for a pipeline through Quebec.”


NO-MORE-PIPELINES BILL C-69

  • This bill was tabled by the government in February 2018 to create a new federal impact assessment process and will replace the National Energy Board with the new Canadian Energy Regulator.
  • The bill was passed in the House of Commons by the Liberal majority government and is currently being studied by a Senate committee.
  • With this new bill, resource projects will need to pass a number of obstacles before approval is given to the projects, including:
  • Taking into account Indigenous knowledge and consulting Indigenous groups on decision-making;
  • Ensuring projects assess how groups of “women, men and gender-diverse people may experience policies, programs and projects.”
  • Many industry groups have voiced concerns that this bill will slow down an already-rigorous approval processes.

FIREARMS LEGISLATION

  • Changes to firearms laws under Bill C-71 include requiring the RCMP to conduct a background check on a person’s entire life before issuing a firearms licence and requiring gun retailers to keep sales records for 20 years. This legislation has been passed in the House of Commons and is currently being studied by a Senate committee.
  • The government is also considering a ban on handguns and assault weapons. They’re currently in consultation stages.
  • The legislation aims to correct firearms crimes, but doesn’t address the root causes. Bill C-71 targets law-abiding firearms owners; the word “gang” does not even appear in the bill.
  • Multiple associations have said this bill will create a back-door gun registry.
  • The Liberals have also earmarked $327 million for police to fight gun and gang violence, but nothing yet has made it to the front lines.