Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Ministers Travis Toews and Sonya Savage will not seek re-election
Finance Minister and MLA for Grande Prairie-Wapiti Travis Toews announced Friday morning that he would not be running again in the spring election following weeks of speculation. He has served as Finance Minister since the UCP took office in 2019, save for a brief hiatus while running for party leader in 2022. In that race, he was Smith’s main adversary, finishing only six thousand votes behind her on the sixth ballot. The UCP has decided to appoint a candidate in his riding due to the short runway to the provincial election.
On Friday afternoon, it was also reported that Sonya Savage, Minister of Environment and Protected Areas and former Minister of Energy, would not be seeking re-election. Savage was a strong backer of Toews in the 2022 leadership election and a senior member of the Kenney Cabinet. She was shuffled from the energy file under Smith’s leadership but remained in Cabinet with an important portfolio.
Given their strong ties to former Premier Kenney, Savage and Toews’ departures may generate further uncertainty among more moderate conservative voters as the province moves closer to the election.
Newfoundland and Labrador announced it has received bids from 19 companies for Crown land for wind-hydrogen development. Bids will now be subject to a phase one review to determine proponents’ experience, and financial ability to proceed to phase two in May.
Newfoundland and Labrador tabled Budget 2023: Your Health. Our Priority, which forecasts a balanced budget by 2024-2025, two years ahead of schedule. Of note, the budget included a $3.9 billion investment in healthcare, a $1.4 billion investment in provincial highways over the next five years, no new taxes or fee increases, and targeted measures to address the high cost of living.
House Reconvenes After March Break
The Legislative Assembly of British Columbia will return to regular sittings today after a two-week March break. With the Budget introduced on February 28, second reading debates will continue and the Budget Estimates process – where each Minister must answer line-by-line spending questions for their Ministry budget – will resume until the end of the spring session on May 11. There are only six weeks left of the current session; if new bills are to be introduced by the Eby government, they are likely to be tabled this week to allow time for debate.
Last week, Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy tabled Ontario’s 2023 Budget.The province is forecasting a $1.3 billion deficit for the upcoming fiscal year – with a pathway to balance (and a $200 million surplus) in 2024-25. The Budget also outlinesplans to invest in critical industries, health care, housing construction, and public transit infrastructure.
Last week, the Ontario government introduced the Working for Workers Act, 2023.The third iteration of Working for Workers legislation would, if passed, strengthen protections for vulnerable and migrant workers by establishing the highest maximum fines in Canada for businesses and people convicted of withholding a foreign national’s passport or work permit. It also increases the maximum fines for Occupation Health and Safety violations.
‘Bonjour Canada’: Biden trumpets Canada-U.S. ties, continental co-operation, plays down disputes
The article reports on U.S. President Joe Biden’s first official visit to Canada, where he emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Canada relationship and emphasized the need for continued continental cooperation. The article notes that while there are some areas of disagreement between the two countries, such as the Keystone XL pipeline, Biden and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau sought to emphasize areas of common interest, such as climate change, economic growth, and security. The article also notes that Biden’s visit was seen as an important signal of support for Canada, particularly given the country’s recent tensionswith China and Russia.
A recent poll by Forum Research found former NDP MP Olivia Chow and former police chief Mark Saunders with the most support ahead of the mayoral by-election. 24% of the Torontonians surveyed chose Chow as their top candidate, while 22% supported Saunders. However, one-third of the respondents canvassed said they didn’t know whom they would vote for if the election was held the following day. In addition, the poll found support among decided and leaning voters for other potential candidates: city councillor Josh Matlow at 18 percent; Liberal MPP Mitzie Hunter at 12 percent; former city councillor Ana Bailão at 11 percent; former mayoral candidate Gil Penalosa at eight percent; and city councillor Brad Bradford at five percent.