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Parliament has risen for what could be the last time before the October election


In this week’s Canada Votes newsletter: With the House of Commons having risen and MPs returning to their ridings we take a look back at some of the significant laws that passed. Éric Grenier looks at Trudeau's tough electoral task in Alberta.

The Canada Votes newsletter is your weekly tip-sheet as we count down to Oct. 21

The Usher of the Black Rod Greg Peters, right, Governor General Julie Payette and Government House Leader Bardish Chagger enter the Senate Chamber for a royal assent ceremony, in Ottawa, Friday, June 21, 2019. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The 2019 election campaign is already underway — the CBC News Canada Votes newsletter is your weekly tip-sheet as we count down to Oct. 21.

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School's out: looking back at an eventful year in Parliament

Vassy Kapelos, host of Power & Politics

It's that time of year – that glorious time of year when we can all take a breath again.

The House has risen.

MPs have fled Ottawa, the federal political news cycle is winding down and our show has started panicking over how to fill two hours.

It's a time to look back on the sitting that was and review what the government did and didn't do – which pieces of legislation became law, which ones disappeared into the ether.

Some big stuff passed. Tanker bans, a new process for reviewing pipeline projects, pot pardons, national security laws. Despite the occasional ping-pong battle between the House and the Senate, at the end of the day it got done. Mostly.

(And in case you're keeping score – the Liberals passed 88 bills during this term, while the previous Tory government passed 122 bills over the course of its last majority mandate.)

Meanwhile, bills that would have mandated sexual assault training for judges, implemented the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and banned "unhealthy" food and beverage marketing directed at children failed to cross the finish line.

Are they gone for good? That's where the election comes in.

Sergeant-at-Arms Pat MacDonald leads members of parliament and other House of Commons officials as they make their way to the Senate Chamber for a royal assent ceremony, in Ottawa, Friday, June 21, 2019.(Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The chances are that some of the bills that died a painful death will be resuscitated after the upcoming election campaign. In some cases, political parties already have pledged to do so.

According to former Conservative Party interim leader Rona Ambrose, who was behind the bill to make sexual assault training mandatory for federally-appointed judges, the Liberals, Conservatives, New Democrats and Greens have all promised to re-introduce her bill as government legislation, should they form the next government.

Politically, that isn't surprising. Ambrose's bill passed unanimously in the House of Commons. It then headed to the Senate where it sat for two years and ultimately fell victim to Senate shenanigans. (We could have a long discussion about said shenanigans and the efficacy of the Senate, but I'll save that gem for another edition of this newsletter.)

The UNDRIP bill is another big one. This was a private member's bill, sponsored by NDP MP Romeo Saganash. It would have aimed to harmonize federal laws with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The bill was hotly contested in the Senate because of a provision that calls on states to obtain "free, prior and informed consent" before approving activity on Indigenous land, including natural resources extraction. Conservative senators said they feared the bill would amount to an Indigenous veto over major resource projects.

The government was criticized for not introducing the bill as its own, which might have allowed it to escape the fate suffered by other private member's bills. Once it became clear the Saganash bill wouldn't pass, the Liberals decided to add it to their fall election platform.

Other policy pitches, meanwhile, didn't even make it to the legislation stage during this mandate. Pharmacare and guns come to mind. The government tasked an advisory panel with looking into pharmacare and in the end it recommended a universal program. New Democrats already have said it'll be in their platform, Liberals haven't yet made the promise.

On gun control, another study was done, but it's not clear what the Liberals will promise – a full ban on handguns, or more powers for municipalities to do so?

Either way, all is not lost on the legislative floor, and we have some clues to what the fall will bring.

Vassy Kapelos is host of Power & Politics, weekdays at 5 p.m. ET on CBC News Network.

Have a question about the October election? About where the federal parties stand on a particular issue? Or about the facts of a key controversy on the federal scene? Email us your questions and we'll answer one in the next Canada Votes newsletter. Scroll down to see the answer to this week's question.

Power Lines

The Power & Politics Power Panelists on where the big parties will be focused this week

Amanda Alvaropresident and co-founder of Pomp & Circumstance

Liberals, on the heels of Pride weekend in Toronto, where they participated alongside hundreds of thousands of Canadians, will contrast with the unwillingness of Andrew Scheer's Conservatives to participate in Pride – and what that says about the Conservative Party's commitment to openness, diversity and inclusivity.

Stockwell Dayformer Conservative cabinet minister

Conservatives this week will continue to contrast their environmental message ("Use Tech Not Taxes") with the Liberals' message. On trade, the Conservatives will be reaching out to U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, as she has added a wrinkle to the USMCA trade deal, suggesting more is needed on labour and climate before ratification.

Kathleen Monkprincipal at Earnscliffe Strategy Group

New Democrats will be promoting their "New Deal for People" as parties wave goodbye to the 42nd Parliament and kick their campaigns into high next gear. Jagmeet Singh will first travel to the battleground Greater Toronto Area, leveraging traditional NDP strength on health care to present his vision of expanding Medicare to cover Canadians from "head to toe."

Poll Tracker Takeaway

Éric Grenier's weekly look at key numbers in the political public opinion polls.

Justin Trudeau isn't likely to be given much credit in Alberta for finally approving the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project.

Albertans have pretty much made up their minds about the prime minister. They don't like him. Recent polls put his disapproval rating in the province somewhere between 74 and 81 per cent.

Many people are equally dismissive of the Liberals' chances of winning seats in Alberta in October, pipeline or no pipeline. But are the Liberals' chances there really as bad as some suggest?

The party certainly has taken a hit in the province. The Poll Tracker puts the Liberals at 16.9 per cent in Alberta, down 7.6 percentage points from 2015. The Conservatives are up 1.3 points in the province, to 60.9 per cent. Combined, that swing should make it difficult for the Liberals to hold any of the four seats they won in the province in 2015.

Difficult – not impossible.

Canada Votes Poll Tracker Federal Averages as of June 18, 2019(CBC)

There are three seats worth watching. The Liberals won Calgary Centre by just 1.2 points, but MP Kent Hehr is routinely one of the best fundraisers in the country.

Edmonton Centre, held by Liberal MP Randy Boissonnault, was won by just 2.2 points. But the New Democrats captured 24.5 per cent of the vote in the riding and finished third. Now that the NDP is in survival mode, that could mean a lot of votes up for grabs.

If progressives in Edmonton Centre vote strategically, Boissonnault could benefit. There certainly are a lot of them in the riding — the Alberta NDP took the majority of ballots cast in the ridings that make up the federal seat in the provincial election held earlier this year.

The provincial NDP did just as well in Edmonton Strathcona, which has been held by the federal NDP's Linda Duncan since 2008.

But Duncan won't be on the ballot this fall. Nearly 65 per cent of voters in Strathcona supported either the NDP or the Liberals here in 2015. If the NDP's vote collapses, there could be an opening for the Liberals.

They'll still need to fight hard to hold any seats in Alberta, but Trans Mountain improves their chances from slim-to-none to just slim. In this province, a Trudeau will take those odds any day.

Tap here to go to the full poll tracker

The 2019 election campaign is already underway — the CBC News Canada Votes newsletter is your weekly tip-sheet as we count down to Oct. 21.

Reading this online? Sign-up for the newsletter and receive it every Sunday.

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