Although the House was sitting last week for the first time since June, the House stands adjourned again as the regular winter break is now in effect until Monday, January 27 of 2020.
This week, the Liberal Government used the opportunity of the House not sitting to release the fall economic update.
One look at the numbers and it is easy to see why the Finance Minister did not want to be grilled in the House over the fact that the Liberals continue to not meet the fiscal promises they make to Canadians.
In this case, while the Liberals had claimed that the deficit would be $19.8 billion it will actually be $26.6 Billion during the end of the fiscal period in March.
Next year’s deficit is forecast to come in even higher at $28.1 Billion.
To further complicate these growing deficit numbers is that they do not yet include spending on the many promises the Liberals made during the recent election.
This suggests that either the deficits could potentially become much higher or some of the promises will not be delivered on.
It should also be noted that not all of the increase in these deficits is attributed to spending.
As one example, changes to how the public sector pension fund is calculated raises actuarial costs as a liability.
Also as interest rates change, so does the size of the pension liability, much as it also can have an impact on interest charges spent on debt servicing.
Another concern in the economic update is that it forecasts that economic growth in Canada will decline between 2020 and 2021.
The Liberal Government has also made a commitment to increase the basic personal exemption limit on your personal tax forms to be phased in gradually over the next 4 taxation years until 2024-25.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer calculates the impact on Government revenues over that period of time to be further reduced by roughly $14 billion.
When one factors in an economic slowdown, that the deficit is well above what the Liberal’s forecast in their spring budget, that other Liberal election promises have not been factored in let alone the demands of opposition parties - we are headed for challenging times.
Several Canadian Provinces are also experiencing serious fiscal hardship and are looking to the federal Government for financial assistance.
Statistics Canada recently reported that our Canadian economy posted its biggest monthly job loss since the 2009 financial crisis with 71,000 Canadian jobs lost in November.
While the Finance Minister states publicly that he is “not worried” about these indicators, my question this week:
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca<mailto:Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca> or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
With the House sitting, there are more events to share than can be summarized in my weekly report.
However, there is one event in particular that I believe is deserving of mention despite not being as high profile as other recent events such as the Throne Speech.
Tuesday of this week was the first “Opposition Day” in the House of Commons.
This is the day where an opposition party, in this case the Official Opposition Conservative Party, sets the agenda in the House of Commons with a motion of its own.
Our motion was summarized as follows:
“That, in light of the prolonged diplomatic crisis with China, the House appoint a special committee with the mandate to conduct hearings to examine and review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship including, but not limited to consular, economic, legal, security and diplomatic relations.”
It is no secret that Canada’s relations with China have deteriorated considerably in recent years.
Two Canadians are currently being held unjustly in Chinese custody.
Canadian Canola farmers have lost 40% of their export market due to unfair Chinese trade restrictions.
Locally in Summerland, a senior care home that is now owned by the Chinese Government has created serious concerns for the residents of this facility and their families with little accountability.
We must also recognize that there are opportunities for having a more constructive relationship with China.
Cleaner burning BC LNG can be used instead of coal in Chinese power plants to lower global emissions.
Locally grown Okanagan cherries exported into China create a very lucrative market.
Tourism is another opportunity.
What's most important about this particular opposition day motion is that it was opposed by the Liberal government.
This is not unlike what occurred in the last Parliament, where the Liberals blocked a proposed committee investigation into claims of inappropriate pressure by Canadian officials on former Canadian diplomats who had been posted in China and were speaking as private citizens.
A pattern Canadians also witnessed with parliamentary committee attempts to further examine the SNC Lavalin affair where the Liberals would use their majority to block and ultimately shut down those efforts.
It was widely observed that unelected powerful people working in the Prime Minister’s Office were calling the shots and had a significant role in stonewalling attempts to provide transparency and accountability to Canadians.
That changed this week.
Despite the Liberals opposing the opposition day motion, the three major opposition parties all supported it.
This was a true victory for Canadian democracy with this minority Parliament.
Now it will be democratically elected Parliamentarians having a significant role in how we can examine our relations with China.
Unelected Liberal Prime Ministerial political appointees can no longer look the other way and ignore this most serious situation.
My question this week:
Do you support the creation of this all party committee to review all aspects of the Canada-China relationship?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.
Finally Members of Parliament have returned to Ottawa.
For members of the Opposition it also a time to become familiar with what our critic roles will be to kick off this new parliament.
I am pleased to announce that the entire Okanagan region will be well represented with prominent critic roles:
Conservative MP Mel Arnold (North Okanagan—Shuswap, British Columbia), Critic for Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
Conservative MP Tracy Gray (Kelowna—Lake Country, British Columbia), Critic for Interprovincial Trade
NDP MP Richard Cannings (South Okanagan—West Kootenay), Critic for Natural Resources
My new portfolio will be the Conservative critic of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion.
As critics, it is part of our job to hold the government to account.
It is also our responsibility to not just oppose but also to propose policy and solutions that we believe can be of benefit to the citizens that we are elected to serve.
The Governor General will deliver the Prime Minister's Throne Speech outlining the priorities of the Liberal minority government in the upcoming Parliament.
This leads me to my question this week.
What is the one issue that you most want to see referenced in this week’s Throne Speech as a priority of the Federal Government?
I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-888-665-8711.
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.