OTTAWA — Parliament resumes Thursday for the first time since the Oct. 19 election that propelled Justin Trudeau’s Liberals to power. Here’s a look at the days ahead as MPs return to Ottawa.
New look Parliament: After almost a decade out of power, the Liberals return to the government side, with Justin Trudeau taking the prime minister’s seat for the first time. Sitting opposite him across the aisle will be Rona Ambrose, the interim leader of the Conservative party. The New Democrats will be seated beside the Tories, a humiliating move for a party that had been the official opposition and aspired to government before being knocked down to third in the election.
Bigger chamber: The election sent 30 additional MPs to Ottawa, the result of riding redistribution to account for Canada’s growing and changing population. That meant renovations to the Commons to make room for 338 MPs. The last two rows of seating on both sides of the chamber were changed to five and seven-seat desks to accommodate the additional politicians.
New Speaker: The Commons resumes at 1 p.m. Thursday. The first order of business for MPs will be to elect a Speaker, who oversees the business of the Commons and is charged with preserving “decorum and order.” At times, the Speaker can appear to be a grade school teacher to an unruly group of children. The Speaker also heads the Commons administration, plays a ceremonial role in greeting dignitaries and acts as travelling ambassador to visit parliaments around the world.
Throne speech: On Friday at 2:30 p.m., Governor General David Johnston will read the speech from the throne in the Senate to open the first session of the 42nd Parliament. The throne speech is a statement of the government’s priorities for the upcoming session. In this case, there should be few surprises as the Liberals are expected to echo their campaign platform and the direction to ministers outlined in the publicly released mandate letters.
Daily routine: Parliament settles into its normal routine Monday, with the first question period of the session. The Commons sits for only a week but the Liberals are expected to move quickly on two initiatives. The first is to repeal legislation that imposed new financial reporting on unions. The other is to deliver on a promise to cut the middle income tax bracket 20.5 per cent while introducing a new 33 per cent tax bracket for those earning more than $200,000 a year.