2015 was a big year for Canadian politics. The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, the NDP victory in Alberta and oh – a long federal election – certainly kept political junkies busy.
2016 might not be quite as exciting as an election (the Americans have that one covered), but there’s still lots to look for in the world of Canadian politics.
Dinner at the White House
Quebec assisted dying law takes effect Thursday following lengthy legal battle
Mulcair stays on as leader amid somber scene at NDP headquarters
Rona Ambrose chosen as new interim leader of Conservatives
U.S. president Barack Obama has invited Justin Trudeau over for dinner. It will be a formal state dinner at the White House, the first time in 19 years that a Canadian prime minister has been so honoured.
And it’ll likely be more than a nice pot roast: according to the White House web site, a state dinner requires a minimum of six months of preparation and the involvement of the First Lady, the State Department and the White House Social Secretary.
Trudeau’s invitation was first reported in early December, meaning that going by that timeline, the dinner might not be until May or June. The White House has not yet announced a date.
Conservative Party convention
The Conservative Party of Canada will hold a policy convention in May in Vancouver. This will provide the party with an opportunity to re-examine its election defeat and come up with new policies that will guide the party in future.
Conservative party members will also select new party officials, including a party president.
They also need to pick a new leader: Stephen Harper resigned after the election, and Rona Ambrose is only interim leader. However, according to recent reports, a leadership convention might not happen until 2017.
NDP leadership review
The NDP will also be reviewing its leadership for the first time since the federal election. Tom Mulcair’s leadership will be examined at the party’s convention in Edmonton in April.
Under Mulcair’s leadership, the NDP went from leading the polls before the election to coming in third place, with 59 fewer seats than it started with. Understandably, some Dippers might be displeased with those results.
However, the party doesn’t have a history of dumping its leaders: Since the party was founded in 1961, NDP leaders have either resigned their posts before a leadership review, or in Jack Layton’s case, died in office.
The massive Trans-Pacific Partnership free-trade agreement was struck in Nov. 2015, but it’s not a done deal yet.
The countries involved, including Canada and the U.S., still have to ratify the agreement. During the election, the Liberals promised to examine the deal and hold a “full and open” debate in Parliament about it, though as they hold a majority, if they want it to pass they can.
U.S. president Barack Obama has promised to make ratification of the TPP a priority during his last year in office.
New law on assisted dying
In Feb. 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the right of clearly consenting adults enduring intolerable physical or mental suffering to end their lives with a physician’s help. It gave Parliament a year to respond with a new law.
The new Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould, has requested an extra six months for the government to consider its response. The Supreme Court has not yet answered this request though.
In the meantime, assisted dying is now the law in Quebec.
With files from the Canadian Press