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