New government House leader sworn in. What are his priorities?

Liberal MP Steven MacKinnon was sworn in as government House leader Monday at Rideau Hall, outlining his priorities for what he called a “consequential session of Parliament.”

MacKinnon represents Gatineau, Que., and was the government’s former chief whip. He’s taking over temporarily from Karina Gould, who went on maternity leave last week. The Liberal MP from Burlington, Ont., is expecting her second child this month.

In his new role, MacKinnon will be responsible for managing the government’s day-to-day business in the House of Commons and handling the legislative agenda.

While speaking to reporters in Ottawa, MacKinnon said passing pharmacare legislation is a top “priority” when the House returns on Jan. 29.

“Canadians are looking for relief and a more filled-in safety net when it comes to pharmaceuticals,” MacKinnon said. “This is something we treat with the utmost importance.”

Pharmacare is a core pillar of the NDP and Liberals’ supply and confidence agreement, needed to keep the minority Liberals in power until 2025.

The deadline to table pharmacare legislation was pushed back to March 1, 2024. It was supposed to pass before the end of 2023, but the parties haven’t been able to reach a consensus on a framework for a deal.

Other pieces of legislation are also stuck in a holding pattern, including a bill to force operators of critical infrastructure to increase security in the face of growing online threats.

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