The Prime Minister’s office recently published ministerial mandate letters for the federal Cabinet, which provide an overview of the priorities assigned to each Minister and will help guide our government relations activities over the coming year.
Many of the objectives outlined in the mandate letters are designed to continue building on the government’s existing priorities, such as increasing economic growth and pursuing new trade opportunities, ensuring the safety and environmental sustainability of the transportation system, and advancing reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. This being said, the mandate letters also contain several new areas of critical focus, including the need to mitigate the impacts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the need to address the supply chain challenges that have been so prevalent over the past two years. Highlights of mandate letters that may be of particular interest from an ocean shipping and international trade perspective are provided below:
The mandate letter sent to the Minister of Transport (Omar Alghabra) includes instructions to:
- As an immediate priority, enforce Covid-19 vaccination requirements across the federally-regulated transport sector and ensure that vaccinations are prioritized for workers in this sector;
- Work to reduce and prevent supply chain bottlenecks in Canada’s transportation networks through the National Trade Corridors Fund and legislative and regulatory authorities. This work will be complemented by efforts – led by the Ministers of International Trade and of Innovation, Science and Industry – to strengthen and secure supply chains overall;
- Help advance Canada’s transition to net zero carbon emissions by supporting global efforts to reduce emissions in the air and marine sectors;
- Work to launch the next phase of the Ocean Protection Plan in order to deliver world-class marine safety systems, protect marine species and ecosystems, and foster stronger partnerships with Indigenous and coastal communities;
- Complete the Ports Modernization Review (which was launched in 2018) with a view to updating governance structures that promote investment in Canadian ports.
The mandate letter sent to the Minister of International Trade and Export Promotion (Mary Ng) includes instructions to:
- Continue pursuing free trade opportunities and advancing Canada’s export diversification strategy by, among other things, developing a strategy for economic cooperation across Africa, continuing to enhance trade engagement with the Pacific Alliance, and implementing a new trade strategy for the Indo-Pacific region;
- Establish a new federal hub to help Canadian businesses and entrepreneurs take full advantage of the opportunities created by trade agreements;
- Work with international partners and allies to develop and secure supply chains for critical minerals, which are needed to enable a transition to a low-carbon economy and support advanced technology and manufacturing;
- Continue to promote open and rules-based trade regimes around the globe, including by extending Canada’s leadership on World Trade Organization reform and by advancing Canada’s inclusive free trade agenda.
The mandate letter sent to the Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard (Joyce Murray) includes instructions to:
- Continue working with the Minister of Public Services and Procurement to renew the Canadian Coast Guard fleet and advance Canada’s shipbuilding industry;
- Continue working in partnership with Indigenous peoples to implement commitments made under the Oceans Protection Plan, and support the Minister of Transport in launching the next phase of that plan;
- Prioritize the growth of Canada’s blue economy to create opportunities for freshwater and ocean sectors and coastal communities, recognizing that Canada’s blue economy must be supported by a world-leading conservation plan.
The mandate letter sent to the Minister Public Safety (Marco Mendocino) includes instructions to:
- Introduce legislation to create a review body for the Canada Border Services Agency, including defined timelines for responding to complaints and recommendations;
- Continue modernizing infrastructure and processes at Canada’s ports of entry, including digital and right touch technology for travellers and conveyances, and ensuring the safety, security and integrity of our borders.
We will be sure to keep members informed of the various government relations activities we undertake over the course of the coming years, and of how we integrate the above-noted priorities into our representations and advocacy efforts.