An update on legislation, developments and political discussions affecting local businesses.
Sunday, Oct. 21:
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that by-elections will be held on Nov. 26 in the ridings of Durham, Victoria, and Calgary-Centre.
Monday, Oct. 22:
- Transport Minister Denis Lebel announced federal assistance to help Matane, Que., firm Concept Mat Inc. expand and reconfigure its prefabricated building elements factory, acquire new equipment and build a new warehouse. The $175,000 repayable contribution comes through the Canada Economic Development’s Temporary Initiative for the Strengthening of Quebec’s Forest Economies.
- Parliamentary Budget Officer Kevin Page confirmed that he “will be filing and serving legal notice on all non-compliant Deputy Heads early this week” as a response to government departments refusing to cooperate with his office and provide him details of planned expenditure cuts.
- Minister of State (Science and Technology) Gary Goodyear addressed the 2012 World Congress on Information Technology in Montréal, highlighting the investment potential of Canada’s information and communications technology sector.
Tuesday, Oct. 23:
- The 2012 fall report of the Auditor General of Canada was tabled in the House of Commons. The report looked at seven areas of government spending and policy: Planning the use of professional service contractors; grant and contribution program reforms; protecting Canadian critical infrastructure against cyber threats; transition of ill and injured military personnel to civilian life; the Department of National Defence’s real property portfolio; Industry Canada’s transfer payments to the aerospace sector; and Finance Canada’s long-term fiscal sustainability. The auditor general’s report placed particular emphasis on the lack of consideration for fiscal sustainability in the government’s policy decisions. In responding to the tabling of the report, Treasury Board President Tony Clement stated that the government has accepted all of the report’s recommendations.
- Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that he will be travelling to India from Nov. 3-9 and will be accompanied by International Trade Minister Ed Fast, Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Gerry Ritz, Minister of State (Sport) Bal Gosal and Minister of State (Democratic Reform) Tim Uppal.
- The Bank of Canada announced that it is maintaining its target for the overnight rate at 1 per cent, with the bank rate remaining at 1.25 per cent and the deposit rate at 0.75 per cent.
- Heritage Minister James Moore tabled the Public Service Commission’s 2011-2012 annual report in the House of Commons, along with 12 PSC audit reports and two follow-up audit reports. Hiring and staffing levels declined in 2011-12, with the number of employees covered by the Public Service Employment Act decreasing by 2.4 per cent. A decrease in appointments and promotions resulted in the lowest levels of movement within the public service since the late 1990s.
- Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz announced $180,000 in funding from the AgriMarketing Program to help the Canada Organic Trade Association develop a long-term international strategy for the organics sector.
- Minister Ritz also announced $152,000 in federal funding from the Canadian Agricultural Adaptation Program to help the Organic Council of Ontario develop innovative tools and technologies to strengthen the organics sector.
- The government tabled an agreement to amend and modernize the Canada-Chile Free Trade Agreement, adding a financial services chapter and bringing the agreement more in line with Canada’s other free trade agreements.
- The Department of Finance released a report titled Economic and Fiscal Implications of Canada’s Aging Population, outlining the government’s efforts to maintain the sustainability of social programs and Canada’s public finances over the long term.
Wednesday, Oct. 24:
- Treasury Board President Tony Clement announced plans to overhaul the government's open data portal during an address at the World Congress on Information Technology in Montréal.
- Minister of State (Finance) Ted Menzies announced the publishing of finalized regulations to address provisions of the Pooled Registered Pension Plans Act.
- The Privacy Commissioner of Canada, and the Information and Privacy Commissioners of Alberta and British Columbia issued new guidelines to help mobile app developers make user privacy central in their design process.
Thursday, Oct. 25:
- The Supreme Court of Canada released its ruling in the matter of Opitz v. Wrzesnewskyj and upheld the results of the 2011 general election in the riding of Etobicoke Centre on a split decision 4-3. The Court found that 59 of the 79 votes tossed out by the Ontario Superior Court were disqualified erroneously and should be restored. As the margin of victory for Mr. Opitz was 26 votes, the results of the election stood.
- Statistics Canada released August 2012 figures for payroll employment, earnings and hours. Average weekly earnings of non-farm payroll employees were $907.19, an increase of 0.4 per cent from the previous month, and a 3.65 increase year-over-year.
- Statistics Canada also released the Construction Union Wage Rate Index for September 2012, which remained unchanged from August, and increased 2.6 per cent year-over-year.
Friday, Oct. 26:
- Public Works, on behalf of the National Fighter Procurement Secretariat, issued a request for proposals for an independent review of acquisition process carried out to replace the CF-18 fighter jet.
- Conservative MP Lawrence Toet (Elmwood-Transcona) announced $3.4 million in federal funding through Sustainable Development Technology Canada to help New Flyer Industries develop and implement its rapid-charge battery-electric bus propulsion technology.
- Statistics Canada released the Couriers and Messengers Services Price Index for September 2012, with a 0.6 per cent increase compared to August. The index increased 3.1 per cent year-on-year.
- Statistics Canada also released the Commercial Software Price Index for September, 2012, with the Index decreasing 0.4 per cent from the previous month, and down 2.9 per cent year-over-year.
Eye on the Hill is prepared by Ottawa-based government relations and communications firm Flagship Solutions.