If you thought that the summer was going to be quiet now that Parliament has recessed, you’d better think again. It is shaping up to be busy on all fronts, with key international and domestic meetings of the G20 and Canadian Premiers, and the NAFTA renewal discussions set to kick off. And don’t forget that the House of Commons Finance Committee is looking for your ideas as it begins to plan for the 2018 federal budget.
First out of the gate this summer, Prime Minister Trudeau will be attending the G20 meetings in Germany on July 7-8. Coming out of the recent G7 meetings in Italy, tensions between Germany and the U.S. continue. German Chancellor Merkel has been critical of the U.S. on climate change and immigration, while the U.S. has been openly critical of Germany’s export-driven economy and for a surge in accepting immigrants. Despite this, Chancellor Merkel has indicated that everyone’s interests are best served with the U.S. as an important member of the G20 moving forward. Canada, along with France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom have been clear in reiterating their support for the Paris Climate Agreement. Canada will host the 2018 G7 Summit in the Charlevoix region of Quebec.
Council of the Federation
From July 17-19, the Council of the Federation will be holding its annual gathering in Edmonton, hosted by the incoming Chair, Alberta Premier Rachel Notley. You can be guaranteed that NAFTA will continue to dominate discussions among the premiers as they follow up on their meetings in Washington in early June. Most Premiers came away from Washington with a united tone, with the group stating that they looked forward to a “modernization” of NAFTA that will update the 23-year old agreement. For example, data services and certain intellectual-property rules for new technologies are not covered by the current agreement and need to be updated.
Job creation in both the U.S. and Canada remains the focus of discussions between the premiers and their American counterparts. In addition to discussing next steps on NAFTA, we can anticipate that the Council will get updates from their five major working groups: Health Care Innovation; Fiscal Arrangements; Economic Productivity and Innovation; the Canadian Energy Strategy; and Internal Trade.
Specifically on NAFTA, we are anticipating that talks will begin in earnest in August as preliminary discussions continue between Canada’s Chief Negotiator Steve Verhuel and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. While resolving an updated agreement is a high priority, there is no deadline to complete the deal as the three countries begin to jockey for position. Both the Mexicans and Americans have indicated that they would like to conclude negotiations early in 2018.
Related to NAFTA, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce is taking it upon themselves to discuss trade with U.S. representatives with visits to Tennessee, Georgia and Texas lined up. The Chamber is inviting any Canadian business with interests in these states to attend the meetings. The mission will start with a visit to Memphis and Nashville July 5-7, Texas at the end of August and Georgia in October. The sectors that the Chamber is hoping to discuss on the trips include: Tennessee – auto parts and services; Texas – oil and aerospace; and Georgia – agri-food and manufacturing. More visits to the U.S. are being planned for 2018.
House of Commons Finance Committee Pre-Budget Submissions
And if you haven’t started to think about your pre-budget submission yet, now’s the perfect time. The House of Commons Finance Committee has invited submissions as it turns its attention to the 2018 federal budget. Submissions are due on August 4 and, similar to last year, the Committee is seeking ideas to improve Canada’s productivity and competitiveness. In September, the Committee will begin to assemble a list of organizations to appear before MPs to discuss their submissions before making recommendations to the Government. The Minister of Finance will then take the Committee’s report under consideration when making decisions on budget items.
Finally, this fall will mark the official half way point of the Liberal Government and with two new leaders for the opposition parties, it is going to be an interesting summer and fall session. The Liberals are set to host their summer caucus meeting in Kelowna to prepare for the busy fall session. Parliament is scheduled to resume on September 18.