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New Westminster-Burnaby MP critical of decision not to reconvene Parliament immediately

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set to announce his new cabinet on Tuesday, it’s time to get back to work in Ottawa without further delay, says New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian.
Peter Julian
New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian is concerned the House isn't being recalled until Nov. 22.

With Prime Minister Justin Trudeau set to announce his new cabinet on Tuesday, it’s time to get back to work in Ottawa without further delay, says New Westminster-Burnaby MP Peter Julian.

Julian has written to Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Pablo Rodriguez, leader of the government in the House of Commons, expressing his surprise and dismay that the government is not recalling Parliament until Nov. 22. With the Sept. 20 federal election resulting in a Parliament that has virtually the same makeup as the last one, he said it’s “completely unacceptable” to delay recalling the House by more than two months.

“As you know full well, the Canada Recovery Benefit and other emergency benefits for individuals and for businesses will be expiring in the coming weeks, and legislative change is needed to extend these beyond November,” he wrote. “New Democrats have called on a number of occasions for these benefits to be extended until the pandemic is over. We have also been urging your government to reverse its decision to claw back GIS benefits from seniors who received the CERB. The need for emergency benefits will almost certainly continue beyond these programs’ anticipated end dates.”

Julian said the delay in recalling the House is even more indefensible as it comes in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and the impacts of a fourth wave.

“I have never seen such a difficult situation for so many people. This is why we need parliament back and we need to act,” he told the Record. “I just deplore the inaction by a federal government that seems unaware or unconcerned about how many people are struggling right now with huge challenges.”

Julian said it’s “profoundly disrespectful” to families that are relying on the recovery benefit and the small businesses that are struggling to get by to delay a return to Ottawa.

“They still think that waiting more than two months after an election, in the height of a pandemic, is fine. That contradicts Mr. Trudeau saying in the campaign that he was calling the election because so many important decisions needed to be made right away, and so he needed a majority in order to make those decisions,” he said. “He is not reconvening Parliament for over two months after the election; deliberately delaying decisions that should be taken. So anything that they announce, they have to go to Parliament for.”

Trudeau has said his government’s early priorities will include re-introducing legislation to ban conversion therapy, moving ahead with 10-day paid sick leave for all federally regulated workers, and bringing the provinces and territories together to work on better sick leave for Canadians across the country. He said other priorities will include childcare, climate action and reconciliation initiatives, as well as efforts to provide the COVID-19 support benefits that many Canadians and businesses still rely on.

Trudeau will be unveiling his new cabinet on Tuesday, Oct. 26.  The NDP and Conservative parties have both criticized Trudeau for not reconvening the House sooner.

“It will be basically the same cabinet. It’s the same Parliament. We have got a few new people. But in our parliamentary tradition if you have got one or two new ministers, those ministers need to be briefed, it takes a couple of days. We should be back at work a few days after the cabinet is announced,” Julian said. “It doesn’t take a month to prepare a minster for Question Period. If it takes them a month to be able to answer a question in Question Period, then they are probably not a good choice for cabinet.”

Aside from dealing with impacts related to COVID-19, Julian said it’s important to get back to Ottawa to address pressing needs such as the housing, opioid and climate crises.

“These are important decisions. Parliament should be sitting now. Mr. Trudeau shouldn’t have been calling an election. He should have been bringing Parliament back the third week of September at the very latest, and instead he’s waiting until almost the end of the year,” he said. “These crises are having a huge impact on people, and he just doesn’t seem to care about the impacts of the lack of action by the federal government.”