Highlights from Crestview Strategy’s weekly newsletters:
Election speculation in New Brunswick continues despite Health Minister Bruce Fitch telling media that there’s no need and that caucus issues could be resolved internally. While Fitch hinted that he might not re-offer, having had a lengthy political career, other ministers including Kris Austin and Sherry Wilson have indicated they are fully supportive and ready to go. In previewing their party platforms, Liberal Leader Susan Holt and Green Leader David Coon both focused on increasing access to healthcare. Holt also took the opportunity to distance herself from Prime Minister Trudeau and the federal Liberals, arguing voters feel both he and Higgs are disconnected from the reality they are living. Last week, leaders of the six Wolastoqey nations issued an open letter slamming Premier Higgs’s government for how it has handled its duty to consult and signaling their readiness to work with a new provincial leader, should a snap election occur.
The return of the Alberta Legislature is less than three weeks away. Looking towards the start of the fall session, a number of key issues are likely to be at the forefront of political debate.
Expected to be tabled first is an expansion of the Taxpayer Protection Act, a UCP promise that has been widely supported by organizations like the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. Already limiting the imposition of a PST in the province, Premier Smith has indicated that future legislative developments will expand protections against raises in personal and business taxes. Introducing the change as Bill 1 will mark the first step of delivering on a major promise made in April.
Premier Smith has also signalled her government will take their first steps towards a reshaping of healthcare services in Alberta this fall. Health minister Adriana Lagrange has already presented a proposal to Cabinet on the ‘decentralization’ of Alberta Health Services. A cornerstone of Danielle Smith’s policy priorities, the government will determine whether non-acute functions should remain under the direction of AHS. While Smith has pointed to success in the expansion of Chartered Surgical Centres to reduce surgery wait times, the exploration of other AHS restructuring is not without controversy; the privatization of Dynalife lab testing was walked back last month, and the NDP opposes decentralization in its entirety.
First week of the fall session in the books, government to prioritize measures to tackle affordability, climate change, and healthcare challenges.
Following the recent defection of MLA Bruce Banman from the opposition BC United to the BC Conservatives, the fall session saw four parties sitting in the house for the first time in decades. And it didn’t take long for the fireworks to start.
While Kevin Falcon and the BC United largely focused their question period attacks throughout the week on the affordability crisis facing British Columbians, BC Conservative leader John Rustad used his parties first question to ask Premier David Eby if he would consider scrapping the governments SOGI program, despite Rustad himself voting in favour of the policy when was a BC Liberal. The rebuke he received from the Premier was blistering and unequivocal, leaving no doubts that the BC NDP have no interest in entertaining a discussion around tossing out a program they feel contributes to the safety and inclusion of all students in the education system.
Four bills were introduced by the governing BC NDP last week, with one in particular grabbing the most attention. In what many on both sides of the argument are seeing as an about face from the Premier, a bill to restrict the public consumption of illegal substances was introduced that will look to ban the use of drugs from public places like parks and sports fields, as well as workplaces, something advocates of decriminalization are considering a blow to the progress made by the same BC NDP who received permission from federal government to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of drugs in late 2022.
The Ontario legislature is not in session and will return next week on Tuesday, October 16th. The Standing Committees on Heritage, Infrastructure, and Cultural Policy and Public Accounts are scheduled to meet next week.
The Ontario government has introduced the Convenient Care at Home Act, 2023, a plan to enhance healthcare coordination through Ontario Health Teams with home care services starting in 2025. Each Ontario Health Team will receive $2.2 million over three years for improved care coordination as part of the government’s $128.2 million investment. The proposed legislation would create Ontario Health atHome, a single organization that coordinates home care across the province.
Statement by the Prime Minister on attacks against Israel – October 8, 2023
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, issued the following statement on the recent attacks against Israel: Early the other day on a Jewish holiday and 50 years after the start of the Yom Kippur War, the terrorist organization Hamas launched a massive, coordinated attack against Israel. Canada unequivocally condemns these terrible attacks in the strongest possible terms and reaffirms its support for Israel’s right to defend itself, in accordance with international law.
Bonnie Crombie pledges to stay on to pass Mississauga’s budget, regardless of Liberal leadership result – October 4, 2023
Mississauga MayorCrombie confirmed she would return from her leave to campaign for leadership of the Ontario Liberals to oversee Mississauga’s 2024 budget process, regardless of the outcome of her bid to lead the party. The city’s budget committee is scheduled to meet from November 27 to 29, days after Liberal members cast their ranked ballots in the now four-person race, including Liberal MPs Nathaniel Erskine-Smith and Yasir Naqvi and provincial Grit Ted Hsu. There are no rules preventing Crombie, if she becomes the Liberal leader, from holding onto the mayor’s chair, though she has pledged to resign if she does succeed. She would have to resign as mayor to run as a member of provincial parliament.