Laval’s Liberal MPs face a heavy workload, after being sworn into office last week
For several Liberal MPs from Laval who were sworn into office last week following the September general election, a full plate of parliamentary work lies ahead tying up loose ends for Covid-19 relief programs, while also setting the course for the post-pandemic economic recovery.
House resumes on Nov. 22
In Ottawa, the House of Commons is scheduled to resume sitting on Nov. 22. This follows the swearing-in of cabinet members and MPs from across the country, which took place in the nation’s capital in late October and early November.
Among the elected members from Laval who were sworn into office last week were Vimy Liberal MP Annie Koutrakis and Laval-Les Îles Liberal MP Fayçal El-Khoury.
According to Koutrakis, who is starting her second term, continuing concerns about COVID-19 meant that she and other MPs were allowed to invite only a minimal number of guests to the swearing-in ceremony which took place in a committee room in the West Block on Parliament Hill.
“I had my spouse there, my staff, people who helped during my campaign as volunteers,” she said in an interview with The Laval News, emphasizing that she made a special effort to invite as many of her campaign volunteers as possible.
With cabinet appointments already announced, the Prime Minister’s next move will be the appointment of Parliamentary Secretaries, followed by the assignment of MPs to House of Commons committees working on a wide range of issues.
Koutrakis, who sat on the Standing Committee on Finance during the last term, said she asked to be reappointed to it, while also asking to be named onto committees dealing with medical assistance in dying (MAID), global affairs, industry/technology and transport.
Committee appointments coming
“I chose those committees because they’re very important to Vimy in terms now of the economy and recovery,” she said. “It’s very gratifying to be able to sit on any one of those committees where studies are taken towards further policy-making. Whatever comes out of those committees is what is then presented and debated in the House of Commons, which is where policies are made.”
Among El-Khoury’s guests for his swearing-in were members of his family, some staff and a few friends who reside in the nation’s capital. A special guest was the ambassador for Lebanon in Canada, His Excellency Fadi Ziadeh.
El-Khoury, who is beginning his third term as Laval-Les Îles’s elected representative in Ottawa, said he and other MPs expect to probably be hearing an announcement on the parliamentary committee appointments this week.
Climate on agenda, says El-Khoury
He agreed that the Liberal government’s focus during the upcoming session will be measures to bring an end to the pandemic, after which the economy must be rebuilt. “It will require a lot of effort,” he said. “But the government, I am sure, will do whatever should be done so as to point our economy in the best direction.”
El-Khoury pointed out that another major issue on the Trudeau government’s agenda over the coming term will be the environment and climate change. This will come following pledges made by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the recent United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) held in Glasgow, Scotland, including an agreement to end deforestation by the year 2030.
Covid’s still on the radar
With the reconvening of Parliament, the re-elected minority Trudeau government will be delivering a new Throne Speech. It is expected that the government’s strategy during Parliament’s upcoming session will include taking final steps to top up efforts undertaken since early last year to deal with COVID-19, with some forward-looking economic measures added.
“One of the immediate areas of focus for the next Parliament will be the COVID-19 support benefits that many Canadians and businesses still rely on, and the government will work collaboratively with other parliamentarians to continue to have Canadians’ backs,” the Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement.
The PMO maintains that over 82 per cent of eligible Canadians are now fully vaccinated, even though the fight against COVID-19 isn’t over. As such, the government outlined five vaccination commitments to take place during the first 100 days following the swearing-in of the new cabinet.
The Prime Minister previously provided details on the government’s plan to ensure everyone 12 or older travelling within Canada on a plane or train is fully vaccinated. He also outlined a plan to ensure all federal employees and people in federally-regulated workplaces are fully vaccinated.
National vaccine passport
At the same time, the government announced its commitment towards establishing a standardized proof of vaccination (vaccine passport) for Canadians travelling internationally, while supporting provincial and territorial proof of vaccination programs, and the introduction of legislation to make it a criminal offence to harass or threaten health care workers.
Some additional ideas of what is likely to be in the Throne Speech can be found in a list of early Liberal government priorities, including 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.