The ritual of MPs offering thanks to their staff, clerks and pages, encouraging colleagues to visit their ridings – each invariably touted as “the most beautiful part of the country” – and bidding one another adieu before scrambling for cabs to the airport played out on Wednesday as the House adjourned for the summer.
But before all that, MPs attended to a few pieces of business. The Senate accepted a motion from the House on Tuesday to pass C-45, the bill to legalize the sale and use of cannabis in Canada. While the bill officially becomes law today, the government announced October 17 as the date that sales will be legal, giving the provinces a few extra months to get their retail regimes in place.
The House also passed several other housekeeping bills and Yves Giroux, a career public servant most recently the chief data officer at the Canada Revenue Agency, was appointed the new Parliamentary Budget Officer.
While MPs attend local events, constituent meetings and get reacquainted with their families, political staff in Ottawa will use the summer to make plans for the fall and spring sessions of Parliament and prepare for the federal election scheduled for October 2019. For the government, the centre of this strategy will be the spring budget. In this regard, the House of Commons Finance Committee recently announced their pre-budget consultation process and called for written submissions on the theme of enhancing competitiveness. Submissions are due by August 3. Similarly, all Ministers will be expected to transmit their budget priorities to the Finance Minister in September.
The government will face real hurdles in delivering its agenda this fall. Strained trade discussions with the US may be further complicated by the rhetoric and results of mid-term elections. The path to the Liberal’s carbon pricing plan, already under pressure from Saskatchewan and Manitoba, will be further complicated by a new Ontario government that takes office at the end of this month with its own plans to challenge federal action in court.
However, the next 16 months also provide a good opportunity for presenting ideas and proposals that the government can announce in its final budget before the October 2019 election. Further, the platform development process will begin in earnest over the summer for all the main political parties, with the countdown to election 2019 already underway.