Parliament opened on Dec. 3. This is Canada’s 42nd Parliament since Confederation in 1867.
On the first day, newly elected MPs in the House of Commons elected a Speaker. On the second day, the Queen’s representative, Governor General David Johnston, delivered the Speech from the Throne in the Senate.
The speech outlined the agenda of the newly appointed government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The start of Parliament also means the start of the House of Commons, where the new government – the Prime Minister and his cabinet – is accountable to elected MPs and, by extension, to Canadians.
MPs will be asking questions of the new government, regarding election promises and actions taken since the government’s appointment on Nov. 4.
A number of issues need to be addressed by the new Liberal government, which has adopted the previous Conservative government’s greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction targets: a 17 per cent reduction of GHGs below 2005 levels by 2020 and a 30% reduction below 2005 levels by 2030.
The new government needs to address concerns about its plan to bring Syrian refugees to Canada. The Liberal government has already acknowledged that their election promise to bring in 25,000 refugees by year-end was unrealistic and irresponsible.
Accordingly, they reduced the number of government-sponsored refugees to 15,000 and have extended the year-end deadline into the new year.
However, unanswered questions remain. The government must fully account for the costs and ensure that proper processes are in place to both screen and care for these refugees.
Finally, Mr. Trudeau indicated during the election that Canada would withdraw our fighter jets from the international military coalition combatting the Islamic State.
The government has not yet withdrawn our CF-18s, and ought to reconsider that decision in light of the recent attacks in Paris.
It would send the wrong message to the Islamic State and to our allies if we were to withdraw at this time.
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Carrie and I, and our three boys, wish you and your family all the best for the holidays, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.