43 things about the 43rd Parliament

Canada’s Parliament will convene next week. Here are 43 people, issues, and questions we’ll be keeping our eye on
By Steve Paikin - Published on Nov 27, 2019
Parliament will be back in session on December 5. (Lars Hagberg/CP)

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Canada’s 43rd Parliament will convene next week for the first time since the October 21st election. Here are 43 things I’ll be looking for:

  1. Some indication that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wasn’t given the overwhelming mandate to govern he seemed to infer he earned on election night.


  1. Whether Chrystia Freeland will handle her domestic responsibilities as minister of intergovernmental affairs as well as she handled her foreign-policy ones.


  1. What the next few months will be like for Andrew Scheer, who’s got a leadership review coming in April.


  1. What Scheer’s would-be successors will be doing over the course of the next few months.


  1. Yes, that’s you, former cabinet minister Peter MacKay.


  1. And you, too, Rona Ambrose, even though you’ve also left politics (but you were very good when you were interim leader after Stephen Harper was defeated).


  1. And even you, Erin O’Toole — current MP for Durham, who’s an impressive guy with a military background.


  1. Whether former prime minister Stephen Harper intends to go to bat for Andrew Scheer.


  1. And, while we’re at it, whether Brian Mulroney will, too. Not seeing it yet.


  1. Whether Jagmeet Singh can rise to the responsibility of holding the balance of power in a hung parliament.


  1. Whether Trudeau will call for advice from the country’s foremost practitioner of minority government: former Ontario premier Bill Davis, who skillfully and brilliantly managed minority parliament for six years, from 1975 to 81. Trudeau and Davis have known each other since the current PM was a child.  


  1. How rookie Toronto minister Marco Mendicino does as minister of immigration, refugees and citizenship.


  1. How rookie Oakville minister Anita Anand does as minister of public services and procurement.


  1. I’m old school, so I’m curious to find out what the minister for “middle class prosperity” (Ottawa–Vanier’s Mona Fortier) actually does.


  1. I’m similarly curious to learn what the minister for “diversity, inclusion, and youth” (Waterloo’s Bardish Chagger) will do.


  1. Whether Elizabeth May really can cede the floor to a new Green party leader, given how much she has been the singular embodiment of that party until now.


  1. How Jenica Atwin, the only Green party MP outside British Columbia, will fare (she represents Fredericton, New Brunswick).


  1. And who’s going to be the new Green leader anyway?


  1. Whether Finance Minister Bill Morneau intends to make any progress in deficit reduction.


  1. Whether Maxime Bernier will decide to power on — or dissolve his populist People’s Party of Canada after one go.


  1. I’m always watching Carolyn Bennett, MP for Toronto–St. Paul’s (the riding in which TVO is located). She’s been an MP for 22 years and has done more than any other Liberal MP to try to improve Crown-Indigenous relations.


  1. Three letters: J.W.R. Want to see whether Jody Wilson-Raybould can truly be effective as the lone independent MP.


  1. Given that it’s a minority parliament, will be curious to see how the Opposition stacks the committees. (Remember: the Liberals will no longer control parliamentary committees.)


  1. And, speaking of committees, will the Opposition try to have J.W.R. put on the justice committee to pursue the SNC-Lavalin controversy further?


  1. And speaking of SNC-Lavalin, is the justice minister going to give it a deferred-prosecution agreement?


  1. I may be way off base here, but I’m betting there’s still some appetite for democratic reform in this Parliament. I know the PM gave it a thumbs down in the last Parliament. But he had a majority then.


  1. You don’t have to get rid of first-past-the-post entirely. Maybe there’s an opening for electing some MPs from lists to ensure some Liberal representation in the Prairies and more Conservative representation in central Canada?


  1. Some Canadians are still going to find it passing strange when 32 Bloc Québécois MPs show up (elected with 1.38 million votes) along with only 24 New Democrat MPs (elected with 2.85 million votes) and three Green MPs (elected with 1.16 million votes).


  1. Quebec’s Bill 21, which forbids public servants from wearing religious symbols: Will the government intervene as that makes its way through the legal and political process?


  1. Is Halifax West MP Geoff Regan going to be the Speaker again? Or might the Opposition try to put one of its own in that chair?


  1. Some strange things happening in the Senate these days. Ten years ago, they were all Conservatives and Liberals. Now they’ve got an Independent Senators Group, Conservatives, a Canadian Senators Group, and a Progressive Senate Group …


  1. … oh, and four non-affiliated senators and five vacancies Trudeau needs to fill. Interesting times for #cdnpoli nerds.


  1. Is it possible that the Official Opposition Conservatives might vote with the Liberal government? That would ordinarily never happen, but it could if the TMX pipeline comes back to the Commons for some reason.


  1. Are we still going to think Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet is charming if he becomes increasingly sovereigntist?


  1. There are some MPs whose faces I’m going to want to see as they enter the chamber, because they racked up some astonishing numbers on election night. For example, Damien Kurek, the Conservative MP for Battle River–Crowfoot in Alberta. He got 85.5 per cent of the votes in his riding. That’s number one in all of Canada.


  1. The biggest percentage of the total vote in Ontario went to Liberal MP Gary Anandasangaree in Scarborough–Rouge Park: 62.2 per cent. He also captured the highest margin of victory in Ontario (21, 245 votes).


  1. The second-highest total-vote recipient was Liberal MP Kirsty Duncan, in Etobicoke North (61.4 per cent). And, yet, she was dropped from cabinet. No one said politics was fair. Taking her seat in the Commons may be a bittersweet experience.


  1. Mike Lake, the Conservative MP for Edmonton–Wetaskiwin won by an astonishing margin: 52,544 votes — the highest in the country.


  1. Liberal MP Tim Louis, from Kitchener­–Conestoga, will probably have one of the biggest smiles in the Commons. He won his seat by 365 votes — the tightest margin of victory in Ontario.


  1. Larry Bagnell, Liberal MP for Yukon, and Nelly Shin, Conservative MP for Port Moody–Coquitlam, may have even wider smiles. They both won their seats by 153 votes — the tightest margin in the country.


  1. Ottawa Centre MP Catherine McKenna can take pride in having the biggest turnout of any of Ontario’s 121 ridings: 80.1 per cent. (That’s the second-highest in the whole country, behind Souris–Moose Mountain’s 80.2 per cent.)


  1. Marie-France Lalonde should be downright giddy. She quit the seven-member Liberal caucus at Queen’s Park, ran federally, won more votes than any other Liberal candidate in Ontario — 44,183 — and is now back in government. (Biggest Ontario vote-getters for the other major parties: Conservative Michael Chong, in Wellington–Halton Hills, with 33,044, and New Democrat Tracey Ramsey, in Essex, with 23,603. Chong won and Ramsey didn’t.) 


  1. Finally, I’m really hoping that two fine parliamentarians — New Brunswick’s Dominic LeBlanc and Manitoba’s Jim Carr — can overcome the awful health challenges they’re battling. Good luck, gentlemen.
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