OTTAWA — The Liberal government tried to swat away suggestions Wednesday that it has so far presented only a very limited policy agenda.
Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc told reporters he didn’t agree with the “characterization” that all the Liberals were doing was “repealing a bunch of Conservative acts” rather than bringing their own initiatives to the House of Commons.
Government House Leader Dominic LeBlanc answers a question during question period in the House of Commons on Dec. 11, 2015. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick/CP)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s team has tabled only four bills since they formed a government more than 92 days ago. One bill, passed before the Christmas break, implemented changes the Liberals had promised during the election campaign — a tax break for the middle-income tax group and a tax hike for those earning more than $200,000.
Three bills are currently in the House of Commons: legislation to formalize those tax changes; a pro-forma bill respecting the “oaths of office” that is always introduced when a new session of Parliament begins; and a bill that repeals two Conservative private members’ bills passed into law that were widely seen as an attack against unions, C-377 and C-525.
There is no other government legislation.
On Wednesday, the Liberals gave notice suggesting that its next bill will revoke changes the previous Conservative government sought to make to the public service’s sick leave and disability benefits.
Some parliamentary watchers — including bureaucrats — are musing aloud about the dearth of Grit legislation.
“If we made a commitment in the election to repeal something, that is our initiative."
But LeBlanc isn’t worried.
“If we made a commitment in the election to repeal something, that is our initiative,” he said. “We were very clear in the election that we thought a number of anti-labour bills — including a rather shocking attempt in the budget legislation – in one of these massive, hundreds of page[s long pieces of] omnibus legislation – to … unilaterally change sick leave benefits for public servants … was inappropriate,” he said.
“The good news is we can do two things,” LeBlanc added. “We can repeal a series of things that we thought weren’t in the interest of Canadians, and we can also enact a series of measures that we believe will improve the lives of Canadians, improve the Canadian economy.
“So I know you’re all very excited that in the coming weeks we’ll be doing both, and, I’m convinced, very effectively,” LeBlanc said.
The Liberals are expected to table the federal budget in March.
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