For months now media, pundits and many Canadians have been speculating about when the next Federal Election may come. Some thought it would have come already, pinning their bets on a Spring 2021 campaign, but COVID had something to say about that. Personally, I always had my money on the Fall of 2021 at the earliest, with COVID always holding the hammer about if it actually happened. Yet still, there has been lots of speculation and reading of tea leaves about when this might come to pass.
As the end of the Spring session of the House of Commons gets closer, we’re starting to get more clues about what might come on this front. Interestingly we got two very good clues on this front today, that point to the future of the 43rd Parliament. The first came straight out of the House of Commons itself, with something that might have flown under the radar of some out there:
Whenever a Parliament is coming to its end, its normal to see MPs give their farewell speeches if they are retiring or not running again. It gives everyone a chance to say their fond farewells, thank their staff and constituents and normally is a warm hearted and collegial moment in a place that can quite often be the opposite of both. So with the rumours of a Fall election, it’s not shocking that this would come now.
The detail that jumped out at me was the date attached to doing this, which is Tuesday June 15th. Normally this take-note debate takes place very close to the end of the session, because normally there are many bills that need to get passed. That’s especially true this time around, with the budget, the COVID-election changes bill, the governments net-zero carbon emissions bill, and a few other items of policy importance to this government still to get passed through the House. After today, there are a maximum of 14 sitting days left on the Parliamentary calendar. With three opposition days left to go, that leaves all of 11 sitting days at most to get all of that done.
The point being, with so much left to do, every day you can have counts if you intend on getting everything passed. So to me seeing these farewell speeches happen so soon seemed odd if you were going to sit right until June 23rd, the last possible day. So for me, with that development it wouldn’t have shocked me if the House rose on Friday June 18th. But it was a piece of news that came out of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs that gave the second clue to build on:
Yes, that’s very interesting, there’s that June 18th date again. This committee has been in a full-on Liberal filibuster for three months on a report about the Liberals prorogation of the House over the summer. That action alone could tell you about how badly the Liberals don’t want these details to come out. But in finding a truce to this not only will the Prime Minister be invited back again to testify for an hour, but the final report of the committee must also be tabled in the House no later than Friday June 18th. All committee reports, for them to become final and a part of the record of the House, must be accepted in the House of Commons. If the House didn’t come back after the Summer and went to a Fall election and that report wasn’t tabled in and accepted by the House, it would disappear down the memory hole. So that deadline is noteworthy that it would mark an important piece of business being wrapped up.
But why negotiate that? Why not just continue to filibuster and let it die if you’re going to an election anyway? Well if the Liberals want to rise earlier, they need other parties to help them do it. We have a minority government after all. So negotiation is a must to make it happen, and I find it interesting that it was BQ House Leader Alain Therrien who moved the sub-amendment to the motion to propose this specific date. Do they have a deal in place to move things along? Hmmm, inquiring minds want to know.
When it comes to the election speculation front this tells us a few things. Firstly, that the parties are actively planning for end of this session being the end of this Parliament. They are clearing the decks, giving retiring and leaving MPs the chance to say their final goodbyes, they’re getting some (but not all?) important outstanding legislation taken care of and getting ready to be home in their ridings for the run up to St. Jean Baptiste. If this comes to pass, and the House does rise on Friday June 18th, that will have consequences. You can’t take away three days from the Parliamentary calendar and get everything done unless you have the support to do it, which likely means they have a deal with someone in place. And if there is a deal in place, that means they’ve liked agreed to what bills will get passed before the 18th and which ones will be left to die on the vine.
We’ll see where this all leads but if we’re reading these tea leaves correctly, it looks like we’ll be going to the polls this Fall at some point. Or at least, it will take something big to stop that from being the case. After months of speculation and rumours, this is the realest it’s all become. So if you need your fill of seeing your MPs fighting it out in the House, get it over the next couple weeks. Because if this plays out the way it’s looking, you’ll likely be waiting until sometime in November to see them in that chamber again.