Canada’s parliament to return after summer break

(CNN) — Parliament will return to Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday following a summer break. MPs will return to a country braced for a possible trade war with the US, facing concerns over a growing housing bubble and having just had the lowest unemployment rate in seven years.

Here are five things to watch for:

Trade war

Canada is bracing for a trade war after President Donald Trump fired off more threats of a 20% tariff on all US exports to Canada.

Officials across the border have been scrambling to prepare for the possible situation by working on contingency plans and readying water bottles, sandwiches and cell phones in case those essentials need to be stocked up on as Canada’s supply of cellphone signals is increasingly vulnerable to power outages.

‘Credibility Gap’

The House of Commons will continue to weigh in on the investigation into former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, who was convicted last week of breaking campaign spending laws.

The Conservatives argue that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his Liberal government should have done more to protect senior Conservatives from Wright before the 2015 election and pointed to a possible government cover-up.

Trudeau, whose government gave Wright the boot this year, said he is proud of his team for ensuring the whole process, from the prime minister’s office to Parliament, has been overseen by an independent investigator.

Gun safety

Amid recent mass shootings in Canada, questions will also be asked of the government’s plan to reopen a long-discussed firearms registry. A parliamentary committee rejected the idea last month. The Liberals promised it would happen during the last election but have not yet acted on that promise.

“We will get back to that,” Trudeau said in January when asked about it then.

Trudeau has said he is wary of the impact the registry could have on efforts to reduce gun violence.


Trudeau’s Liberals have been hit with a number of scandals in the summer, with multiple ministers forced to step down because of their failure to disclose possible conflicts of interest.

Wright is the third Conservative to be convicted of an offence and Ottawa Bishop Marcel Turcotte is among those facing charges for sexual assault and murder.

One question the House of Commons will have is whether Trudeau will share Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s message to reporters: “We don’t consider it a distraction to talk about how much we have done in areas of innovation, trade, medical research and other areas.”

Tightening the belt

The central bank unexpectedly cut interest rates last week to counter the effect of the lower Canadian dollar and fears of a housing bubble. The plunge in the currency, which hits exports and business investment, has made gas cheaper for Americans.

Questions on Thursday will include whether the government will reverse course and move in the opposite direction and what that would mean for interest rates.

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