Members of Parliament are returning to Ottawa on Monday vowing action on Canadians’ pressing concerns, as the House of Commons opens for its first sitting day of 2024.
Fresh off of their respective caucus retreats — where the Liberals, Conservatives, Bloc Quebecois and New Democrats huddled behind closed doors to plot out their political strategies and policy priorities — the first day back on Parliament Hill this year is poised to again be affordability-focused.
Scheduled to come up for debate first will be how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s minority government plans to respond to the highly controversial senate amendments made to a Conservative private members’ bill meant to offer farmers a break from the carbon tax.
Then, left unpassed when MPs wrapped up their 2023 sitting, the fall economic statement implementation bill is back on the agenda for Monday. As of Sunday afternoon, there were no new government bills on the notice paper, meaning the Liberals are launching this sitting without plans to imminently table new legislation.
Trudeau signalled during his Montreal cabinet meeting that advancing measures to help the middle class, gathering stakeholders to tackle the issue of auto theft, and considering adjustments to immigration offerings mindful of Canada’s housing crunch, are among his team’s top preoccupations.
Speaking to his caucus in Ottawa last Thursday, amid swirling leadership chatter and persistently poor polling numbers, the prime minister said Liberals will be focused on rolling up their sleeves “to fight for Canadians, to deliver for Canadians, to build that better future everyone is counting on.”
Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre, addressing his caucus in West Block on Sunday afternoon said his caucus’ focus, in angling to form government after the next election, will be to make a clear contrast between his Official Opposition’s “common sense” priorities, and the “costly coalition.”
“Conservatives will fight throughout this session to axe the tax, build the homes, fix the budget, stop the crime,” Poilievre said.
After a three-day strategy session with his MPs and hearing from ordinary voters in Edmonton, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said he’s coming back with the mindset that Canadians “need New Democrats more than ever.”
Singh said his caucus is ready to head back to Parliament Hill determined to “make Ottawa work for people,” including through finding ways to leverage their confidence-and-supply agreement with the Liberals to achieve real tangible improvements to housing affordability and access to prescription medications.
Also happening just down Wellington Street in downtown Ottawa on Monday is commissioner Marie-Josee Hogue’s kick-off of the national inquiry into foreign election interference in Canada.
While the issue has been simmering on the backburner in recent months amid a heightened focus on cost-of-living concerns, the launch of public hearings could bring Trudeau government’s handling of campaign meddling claims back into the spotlight.