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 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

Alberta Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Deena Hinshaw reported an additional 456 COVID-19 cases over the past 24 hours. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Five new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, two in Red Deer

Province reports 456 new cases of COVID-19

Businesses are getting creative to keep cash flowing. (File photo)
Central Albertan lobbying government to help those affected by CERB repayments

Catherine Hay says she received a letter in November saying she had to completely repay the benefit

(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’

Toronto’s Mass Vaccination Clinic is shown on Sunday January 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Canadian malls, conference centres, hotels offer up space for COVID vaccination centres

Commercial real estate association REALPAC said that a similar initiative was seeing success in the U.K.

Kamala Harris and Joe Biden are sworn into office on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. (Saul Loeb/Pool Photo via AP)
Joe Biden has been sworn in as the 46th president of the United States

About 25,000 National Guard members have been dispatched to Washington

A memorial for the fatal bus crash involving the Humboldt Broncos hockey team at the intersection of Highways 35 and 335 near Tisdale, Tuesday, October 27, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Liam Richards
‘End of the road:’ Truck driver in Humboldt Broncos crash awaits deportation decision

Sidhu was sentenced almost two years ago to eight years after pleading guilty to dangerous driving

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. Public opposition to the Alberta government’s plans to expand coal mining in the Rocky Mountains appears to be growing. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File
Alberta cancels coal leases, pauses future sales, as opposition increases

New Democrat environment critic Marlin Schmidt welcomed the suspension

File photo
Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit recovers valuable stolen property

Property valued at over $50,000 recovered by Wetaskiwin Crime Reduction Unit.

In this March 28, 2017, file photo, a dump truck hauls coal at Contura Energy’s Eagle Butte Mine near Gillette, Wyo. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Mead Gruver, File)
First Nations seek to intervene in court challenge of coal policy removal

Bearspaw, Ermineskin and Whitefish First Nations are among those looking to intervene

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau provides an update on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau vows to keep up the fight to sway U.S. on merits of Keystone XL pipeline

Canada’s pitch to the Biden team has framed Keystone XL as a more environmentally friendly project than original

Most Read