Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference on parliament hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference on parliament hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Prorogation was a surprise, but a new throne speech is welcome, Liberal MPs say

Many Liberal MPs seem unconcerned about the possibility the vote could trigger an early election

Liberal MPs were surprised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s decision to shut down Parliament Tuesday, but many say they believe it was the right call to hit the reset button and deliver a new throne speech, given how COVID-19 has changed the political and economic landscape.

Liberal cabinet and caucus members alike say they were not given advance notice of Trudeau’s plans to prorogue Parliament and only learned about it when it was reported in the media Tuesday.

While some might see it as a political tactic to silence committees probing the WE controversy, Francis Drouin, MP for the Ontario riding of Glengarry-Prescott-Russell, said he believes a new throne speech is needed to give Canadians a better look at government’s long-term plans.

“To me it just makes sense,” he said.

“The issues that we were talking about a year ago aren’t necessarily reflecting the realities of what we’re now dealing with in our constituencies and what Canadians are dealing with. I think it’s the right call.”

Veterans Affairs Minister Lawrence MacAulay agreed, saying he believes the situation in Canada and in the world has changed dramatically since the pandemic and Canadians need to see how government plans to respond to those shifting priorities.

“Now is the time to put the road map in place to rebuild the economy and, obviously, that’s what Trudeau wants to do and that’s what will be done.”

A new speech will also prompt a confidence vote, which will require the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to avert defeat of Trudeau’s minority government.

Trudeau refuted suggestions Tuesday he was breaking a 2015 election commitment to never use prorogation as a way to “avoid difficult political circumstances.” He argued he is inviting a confidence vote to allow his Liberal minority to be given a mandate for their post-pandemic plans.

Many Liberal MPs seem unconcerned about the possibility the vote could trigger an early election after the speech is released Sept. 23.

If opposition politicians want to send Canadians to the polls in the middle of a pandemic, that will be up to them to justify, MacAulay said.

But even as much of Trudeau’s caucus appears on board with his hasty decision to pull the plug on Parliament, concerns are being felt in some corners about how the WE affair has played out.

The decision to select WE Charity to administer the multimillion-dollar Canada Student Service Grant has become a political headache for the Liberal government and is being blamed for the sudden resignation Monday of Bill Morneau as minister of finance. Trudeau named Chrystia Freeland to the crucial post Tuesday.

Morneau insisted his decision to leave was based strictly on the fact that he doesn’t intend to run for re-election.

Both Trudeau and Morneau have close family ties to the WE organization have apologized for not recusing themselves from the decision to select WE Charity to administer the CSSG. Both are now being investigated by the ethics commissioner over the deal.

WE backed out of the program in early July, citing the controversy, but the political fallout has continued, playing out in Commons committees with marathon grilling sessions by opposition politicians of key WE and government officials, including Trudeau himself,

Rob Oliphant, who is the parliamentary secretary of foreign affairs, said he is glad to see his government will be taking a new focus with prorogation and a new throne speech, as he did not approve of the decision to give WE Charity the ill-fated contract.

“I don’t think it was a good decision that cabinet made in the first place,” he said.

“I think obviously government was trying to find a fast way to get a program out to help people. I didn’t like it from the beginning and I’m very glad it’s not happening.”

READ MORE: Parliament prorogued, confidence coming on throne speech, says Trudeau

After spending dozens of hours chairing the finance committee’s probe of the WE controversy, Liberal MP Wayne Easter said he is not concerned the prorogation has denied Canadians an opportunity to learn the finer details of the affair.

All the key players, both in government and at WE, have appeared at committee and thousands of pages of newly released government documents have offered a lot of information for Canadians, Easter said.

He says he’s more concerned that Tuesday’s prorogation has left other work of the finance committee unfinished.

This includes hundreds of submissions made during pre-budget consultations for Budget 2021 which weren’t made available to the committee before prorogation and now can’t be reviewed. The committee also hadn’t completed its summary of hundreds of COVID-19 presentations from witnesses over the last four months — information gathered to ensure government’s pandemic response would meet the needs of all Canadians.

“With the prorogation, that work is going to be crammed into a very, very tight timeline in the fall and we don’t have that advice from the public to give to the minister (Freeland) right now,” Easter said.

Virtually all MPs and cabinet ministers who spoke to The Canadian Press said they’re not hearing concerns from their constituents in either in small-town Canada or in bigger cities, about the prorogation. Canadians are more concerned about their health, their families and their livelihoods during the pandemic, they said.

Oliphant’s office received only two emails and one telephone call Wednesday about the prorogation and, of the 21 calls Oliphant proactively made to constituents during the day, not one person raised it.

“That’s the pulse,” he said.

READ MORE: Opposition parties decry black ink in WE documents, allege continuing coverup

Teresa Wright, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Justin TrudeauLiberals

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

Dean Olsen Missing Poster
Blackfalds RCMP seek public assistance to locate missing male

Dean Olsen was last seen on Jan. 20 in Red Deer County

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw said province’s test positivity rate for COVID-19 is steadily declining. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
669 new COVID-19 cases in Alberta, 21 additional deaths

COVID-19 test positivity rate down to 4.5 per cent

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

A scene from “Canada and the Gulf War: In their own words,” a video by The Memory Project, a program of Historica Canada, is shown in this undated illustration. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO - Historica Canada
New video marks Canada’s contributions to first Gulf War on 30th anniversary

Veterans Affairs Canada says around 4,500 Canadian military personnel served during the war

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

(Photo submitted)
Community Futures brings back Social Media Challenge for 2021

This time the challenge is for non-profits and community groups

Lucas Berg, left, with the backpacks filled with essential items he donated to the Red Deer Mustard Seed Jan. 19, 2021. (Photo submitted)
Central Alberta teenager donates filled 20 backpacks to Red Deer Mustard Seed

Lucas Berg, 14, of Ponoka County says he ‘just wants to help people’

A conveyor belt transports coal at the Westmoreland Coal Co.’s Sheerness mine near Hanna, Alta., on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Coal mining impacts are already occurring in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains even as debate intensifies over the industry’s presence in one of the province’s most beloved landscapes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
As Alberta debates coal mining, industry already affecting once-protected Rockies

UCP revoked a policy that had protected eastern slopes of the Rockies from open-pit coal mining since 1976

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb. TC Energy Corp. is planning to eliminate more than 1,000 construction jobs related to its decision to halt work on its Keystone XL pipeline expansion project. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
TC Energy cutting more than 1,000 Keystone XL construction jobs as Biden pulls permit

Some 200 kilometres of pipe have already been installed for the expansion

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Most Read