Good Monday morning! The House will sit for its first full week before adjourning until the new year. Members of Parliament will continue debate today on the Speech from the Throne which was delivered last Friday by Governor General David Johnston. It broadly outlined the Liberal government’s plans and priorities for the first session of the 42nd Parliament, which opposition parties last week called a “thin” agenda. The first Question Period since the last Parliament will take place today at 2 p.m. where many rookie ministers will be rising to answer questions about their portfolios. Some of the top issues the opposition is expected to ask the new Liberal government include the plan to resettle 25,000 Syrian refugees, security, the plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions given the ongoing Paris UN climate change conference, moving on implementation of Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Indian Residential Schools recommendations ahead of the final report coming out on Dec. 15 as well as calling an inquiry into murdered and missing Indigenous women and girls and the economy, especially the government’s commitment to lower taxes for the middle class and raise taxes on the top one per cent of earners in Canada. With Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) commitment to changing how politics is done and to making parliamentary reforms Parliament, it will be interesting to see how he sets the tone when he stands to answer questions for the first time in the House as Prime Minister, rather than asking them as an opposition leader. In the last Parliament under Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper (Calgary Heritage, Alta.), ministers often made partisan remarks and asked questions of the opposition rather than answering. It also featured short talking points that were repeated regardless of the question asked rather than answering meaningfully, and often deteriorated into heckling on both sides of the aisle. Although not unique to the previous government, the increasingly irrelevance of Question Period was often cited as part of the reason for the decline in parliamentary democracy. Question Period is “an appalling spectacle,” wrote former University of Ottawa professor Robert Asselin in a paper for Canada 2020 in June 2014. “Ministers are allowed not to answer questions directly addressed to them. Point persons are chosen on the government’s side to handle the controversial questions and most of the time, they provide no answer and use their time to launch nasty attacks on their adversaries. The opposition is no better. They use their 45 seconds questions to try desperately to make the news at night and QP becomes a daily bad TV show.” Mr. Asselin, now a policy adviser to Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.), also said there is no longer any “statesmanship” in QP. “It’s a gong show. What is sad is that this daily exercise takes away more or less two hours of the Prime Minister’s time every day when the House sits. It serves very limited accountability purposes,” he wrote. The Liberal Party campaigned on reforms to Question Period in the election, noting that all members, including the prime minister, should be held to greater account. “As the head of government, the Prime Minister represents all Canadians and should be directly accountable to all Canadians. We will introduce a Prime Minister’s Question Period to improve that level of direct accountability. We will also empower the Speaker to challenge and sanction members during Question Period, and allow more time for questions and answers,” the Liberal platform says. “We will look at other ways to make Question Period more relevant, including the use of online technologies, and will work with all parties to recommend and bring about these changes.” On the agenda (all times local) The Pearson Centre is hosting a reception focusing on “New Politics.” Liberal MPs Gary Anandasangaree, Wayne Easter, Greg Fergus, Joyce Murray, Anita Vandenbeld, and Arif Virani will be there, in addition to Conservative MP Dean Allison and NDP NP Linda Duncan. The event takes place at 4:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Ottawa. More information can be found here. The Conservative Party will have their Christmas Party at the Sir John A. Macdonald Building Ballroom in Ottawa. The Canadian Club of Toronto is hosting a panel discussion on transformations in the financial services industry. The panel, moderated by Bruce Sellery, Borrowell CEO Andrew Graham, Scotiabank senior vice-president Mike Henry, WealthSimple CEO Michael Katchen, RBC executive vice-president Linda Mantia and National Bank Financial managing partner Peter D. Routledge. The event starts at 12:30 p.m. at the Sheraton Centre Toronto.