Liberal cabinet ministers began meetings in Winnipeg today to set parliamentary priorities and strategize for what's expected to be a challenging winter session for the minority government.
The three-day retreat will focus on themes laid out in the fall throne speech: growing the economy and the middle class, tackling climate change, and building healthy and safe communities, including new gun control measures and continued efforts to promote reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.
One of the urgent orders of business is the federal response to the massive blizzard in Newfoundland and Labrador, where a state of emergency was declared in St. John's and several other municipalities. On Saturday, government ministers pledged whatever assistance the province requires, including military personnel, and today ministers confirmed that 300 or more troops plus equipment would be deployed.
Governing without a majority means the government must get at least one of the opposition parties on board to pass legislation and the upcoming budget.
On Sunday, Finance Minister Bill Morneau acknowledged there will be "some differences" in how the government drafts its economic plan.
"Importantly, we will have to, as we get to Parliament, make sure that we are talking with all of the other parties. That's been a priority we've had over previous years — I'm sure it will be more robust this year," he said.
As the nation continues to grieve the loss of 57 Canadians killed in the Flight PS752 airline disaster in Iran, mounting tensions in the Middle East and other global affairs will also be high on the agenda.
But domestic pressures are paramount, and the chosen location of the retreat is both symbolic and politically strategic.