Politics at full power days in new parliament

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faced a barrage of questions from his opposition counterparts on pressing issues of the ongoing flood disaster in BC, Indigenous reconciliation, inflation and climate change for the first question period in five months.

In a series of, sometimes spirited, partisan exchanges, Conservative leader Erin O’Toole, Bloc Québécois leader Yves-Francois Blanchet and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh questioned where the federal government has been and what it plans to do to solve problems. they said they have simmered in the two months between the 2021 federal election and the opening of the 44th parliament.

“Monthly grocery bills have already increased by hundreds of dollars. The speech of the throne mentioned inflation once, but once. Is the Prime Minister struggling to understand the concerns of Canadian families? Or does he just not care?” asked O’Toole.

“Inflation is a challenge that countries around the world are currently facing due to supply chain disruptions, due to the recovery of our economies after COVID, but we are deeply concerned about the rising cost of living that inflation is causing people,” Trudeau said. .

There was a packed house for the first post-election question period, with recently re-elected House of Commons Speaker Anthony Rota reminding the hecklers to consider their colleagues who wanted to hear the aisle exchanges.

“We are in a climate crisis and we need to take urgent action. This climate crisis also offers an opportunity to create good jobs for workers… So why has this Prime Minister abandoned workers, without a plan to create high-paying jobs that will help us fight the climate crisis?” asked Singh.

“Mr. President, just a few months ago, all parties had the opportunity to put forward their plans for fighting climate change and for growing a Canadian economy and I was extremely pleased to see support for the Liberal plan. .. was recognized as the strongest plan for the economy and for combating climate change by all experts,” Trudeau replied.

DEMAND PRIORITIES, VACCINATION RULES

In a prequel to the question period, Trudeau and O’Toole exchanged attacks, claiming that their opponents’ priorities in the new parliament did not match Canadians’ concerns.

Speaking to his caucus Wednesday morning, O’Toole addressed the prime minister directly, accusing him of neglecting the rising cost of living and omitting key issues in Tuesday’s speech from the throne.

“Instead of standing up for the Canadians, we have a Prime Minister who always puts his own needs before yours,” O’Toole said.

“Other countries are launching ambitious plans to unleash innovation, cut taxes and cut red tape to grow their economies, and we’re not seeing Justin Trudeau… It took him two months to get us back to work in Ottawa after are unnecessary pandemic elections,” he said.

O’Toole’s caucus-rousing speech came a week after party strife reached a fever pitch with Senator Denise Batters’ removal from the conservative national caucus over publicly challenging his leadership future by launching a petition calling for an accelerated membership vote. on whether O’ Toole should keep his job.

In it, he vowed that his party will be the “professional, ethical and experienced” team representing Canadians in this parliament, harking back to issues and messages he has used in the past to rally the conservative grassroots.

Responding to the official opposition leader’s comments en route to a liberal caucus meeting, Trudeau said his administration is focused on the economy and affordability, as well as reconciliation and climate change, while his opponent focuses on challenging the vaccine’s House of Commons mandate. .

“The kind of stuff Mr. O’Toole should be focusing on. Instead, he’s focusing on getting his MPs waivers, which doesn’t make much sense,” Trudeau said, referring to questions about how many of his MPs may be unvaccinated but have filed medical waivers.

‘MPS ARE ESSENTIAL’: MP

Inside the door of the Conservative caucus meeting on Wednesday was a basket full of rapid test kits and masks that the party said were there for any MP if they wanted to take a test as an extra precaution, regardless of vaccination status.

“Our caucus chair does have some quick tests available, and they are there if caucus members really want to use them, if anyone needs or wants a quick test I’m sure they would be accessible to anyone on the hill who wants a quick test,” Deputy Conservative Leader Candice Bergen said during a scrum in West Block.

Yet other parties whose MPs have been fully vaccinated continue to express dismay at the Conservatives’ handling of the vaccine mandate and public health guidelines.

“Nobody seems to be controlling this caucus and nobody seems to be following the rules,” Blanchet told reporters after his caucus meeting, referring to the conservatives.

“I think the Conservatives should be more transparent about what’s going on in their caucus and about their vaccination status,” Singh said.

On Wednesday afternoon, the House will debate a government motion proposing to restore the hybrid seating structure, with physical distancing and virtual procedures returning to the House until June 2022.

“A Conservative MP tested positive, he should be able to contribute. If someone tests positive, that’s one way to make sure MPs speak for their citizens,” Trudeau told reporters en route to the question period.

if part of this movement, the liberals want to bolster the language around what would qualify as a valid medical exemption under the Board of Internal Economy vaccine mandate, which the conservatives have presented a procedural challenge.

The Conservatives oppose both proposals, saying Canadians elected them to appear in person to do their job and all MPs should do so, as the Conservatives intend to do.

“MPs are essential,” Bergen said.

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