Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Dominic LeBlanc on being sworn in as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs during the swearing in ceremony following a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulates Dominic LeBlanc on being sworn in as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs during the swearing in ceremony following a cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall in Ottawa on Tuesday, August 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Parliament prorogued, confidence coming on throne speech, says Trudeau

Trudeau said he ‘absolutely’ plans to fight the next election as Liberal leader

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Gov. Gen. Julie Payette to prorogue Parliament, promising to come back with a new throne speech next month to reset his Liberal government’s agenda in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Trudeau announced Parliament will return Sept. 23, which is two days after the House of Commons was initially scheduled to resume sitting after having reduced operations this spring due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move will reset the legislative agenda, shutting down committees — along with their probes of the WE Charity controversy — and clearing away any unfinished work or bills left on the order paper.

Trudeau says the pandemic has created the need for a long-term plan for recovery, and says the throne speech will be a roadmap to rebuilding the economy and address fundamental inequities in society that were laid bare by the pandemic and shutdown.

The move comes less than 24 hours after Bill Morneau announced his resignation as finance minister and as Liberal MP for Toronto Centre. A mini-cabinet shuffle at Rideau Hall Tuesday afternoon saw Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland appointed Canada’s finance minister, the first woman named to the high-profile post.

Freeland will continue serving as deputy prime minister in addition to taking on finance, but New Brunswick MP Dominic LeBlanc will take over from her in the intergovernmental affairs portfolio — a job he held during the Liberal government’s previous mandate.

Trudeau says the throne speech delivered eight months ago had no inkling that a pandemic would cause a global economic crisis, and a new speech is needed to offer a long-term plan for rebuilding.

The throne speech will also prompt a confidence vote, which will offer an opportunity for opposition parties to test their plan in the House of Commons, Trudeau said.

Trudeau said he “absolutely” plans to fight the next election as Liberal leader.

The Conservatives are set to reveal the winner of their leadership race this weekend.

Trudeau also says his Liberal government will release thousands of pages of documents related to the WE controversy that had been turned over to the House of Commons finance committee.

That committee demanded the documents as part of its investigation into whether Trudeau’s relationship with WE Charity influenced the government’s ill-fated decision to have the organization run a federal student-volunteer program.

Both Morneau and Trudeau are facing investigations by the federal ethics commissioner for not recusing themselves in the WE Charity deal, given their close family ties to the organization.

As the minister of finance, Freeland will help shepherd the government through the biggest economic recovery since the Great Depression. The government has not yet tabled a 2020 budget, because plans to do so in March were upended by the pandemic.

A fiscal snapshot released in July was a bare-bones look at the pandemic relief programs thus far, but provided few details about how the government intends to move out of the crisis.

That plan will come in the throne speech and either a fall economic statement or a budget, which Trudeau is looking now to bring in this fall. A cabinet retreat is scheduled for Sept. 14.

Earlier Tuesday, Conservative finance critic Pierre Poilievre said Morneau was just taking the fall for the government and that Trudeau is the one who should resign.

Poilievre said he did not have hope that Freeland replacing Morneau would mark a change in policy or direction for the Liberals.

“Regardless, though, of how you play musical chairs, we still have the same corrupt and incompetent prime minister ahead of the same corrupt and chaotic government.”

Poilievre sidestepped questions about whether the Tories would try to trigger an election this fall, saying they want to uncover the full story of the WE controversy so Canadians know all the details before they go to the polls again.

Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet last week said he would bring a non-confidence vote himself if Trudeau, Morneau and Trudeau’s chief of staff Katie Telford do not all resign. He said Tuesday a throne speech could just make doing so easier, though he also left the door open to supporting it.

Speaking to his MPs at a caucus retreat in Bonaventure, Que., Blanchet said the party would vote against a throne speech if it does not contain greater health transfers to the provinces, substantially more help for Quebec seniors, and aid to agricultural producers in supply-managed sectors.

The New Democrats have been using their position in the minority Parliament to help Trudeau’s Liberals pass emergency aid legislation, while negotiating changes. The NDP are now asking for a $12-billion investment in child care, including an immediate $2 billion investment so parents — particularly mothers — can go back to work.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says this will remain the NDP’s focus — for now.

“If the Liberal government continues to focus on helping their close friends instead of helping people … then we’ll have to look at all options,” he said Tuesday in Vancouver.

Morneau insisted his decision to leave was based strictly on the fact that he doesn’t intend to run for re-election and his belief that the finance minister must be someone around for the long, hard road to recovery ahead.

He said he intends to run to be the next secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development.

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 multimillion-dollar program. WE backed out of the deal in early July, citing the controversy.

Morneau compounded the controversy by revealing WE Charity had paid over $41,000 in expenses for family trips to see its humanitarian projects in Ecuador and Kenya. Morneau repaid the charity just hours before disclosing the trips during testimony before the Commons finance committee last month.

The federal ethics watchdog’s investigation into whether Morneau violated the Conflict of Interest Act will continue despite his decision to quit.

The Canadian Press

CoronavirusJustin TrudeauParliament

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

Just Posted

RCMP cruiser. (File photo)
Alberta, Chase residents handed driving prohibitions from RCMP

Drivers fail alcohol screening device tests

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Interior Health reports 65 new cases of COVID-19

Province-wide, there are 887 new cases of the virus

The Pioneer Lodge Care home is hoping the community can cross some things off their residents’ Christmas lists. (Kari Shea/Unsplash)
Salmon Arm care home seeks gifts to ease Christmas isolation for seniors

Trees going up with gift tags listing item suggestions for residents of Pioneer Lodge

The Sicamous Fire Department has postponed their annual toy drive to Dec. 13. (File photo)
Sicamous and other Shuswap fire departments postponing toy drives

Due to a provincial health order, toy drive is being pushed back to Dec. 13

Resident wants City of Salmon Arm to take action to eradicate rat population in town. (File photo)
Salmon Arm resident demands action to eradicate rats

City posts more information on social media, will consider more action at budget time

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry update the COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature, Nov. 23, 2020. (B.C. government)
B.C. sets another COVID-19 record with 887 new cases

Another 13 deaths, ties the highest three days ago

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Arthur Topham has been sentenced to one month of house arrest and three years of probation after breaching the terms of his probation. Topham was convicted of promoting hate against Jewish people in 2015. (Photo submitted)
Quesnel man convicted for anti-Semitic website sentenced to house arrest for probation breach

Arthur Topham was convicted of breaching probation following his 2017 sentence for promoting hatred

Langley School District's board office. (Langley Advance Times files)
‘Sick Out’ aims to pressure B.C. schools over masks, class sizes

Parents from Langley and Surrey are worried about COVID safety in classrooms

The baby boy born to Gillian and Dave McIntosh of Abbotsford was released from hospital on Wednesday (Nov. 25) while Gillian continues to fight for her life after being diagnosed with COVID-19.
B.C. mom with COVID-19 still fighting for life while newborn baby now at home

Son was delivered Nov. 10 while Gillian McIntosh was in an induced coma

The Rutland IGA is located in Willow Park Shopping Centre at 590 BC-33. (Michael Rodriguez - Kelowna Capital News)
Customer asked to mask up, throws hot coffee at Kelowna IGA employee

The woman grabbed cat food on her way out when she refused to wear a mask

City of Armstrong Public Works Yard. (Google Maps)
Armstrong city staffer threatened in snow removal complaint

Community services manager says ‘veiled threat’ is believed to have been flippant, but is being taken seriously

B.C. Premier John Horgan, a Star Trek fan, can’t resist a Vulcan salute as he takes the oath of office for a second term in Victoria, Nov. 26, 2020. (B.C. government)
Horgan names 20-member cabinet with same pandemic team

New faces in education, finance, economic recovery

The Okanagan Quality Life Society which usually gives tours of Okanagan Lake to seniors and shut-ins on its boat Heaven Can Wait has created a virtual tour video in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which shut down the tours in 2020. (Morning Star - file photo)
Okanagan Lake virtual boat tours launched

Okanagan Quality Life Society normally gives tours on Okanagan Lake on its boat Heaven Can Wait

Most Read