House won't return for at least 2 weeks

It will likely be weeks before Canada's new MPs get their first day in the House of Commons chamber, as Prime Minister Stephen Harper draws up a new cabinet and prepares for the throne speech.
Stephen Harper visits the Governor General Wednesday morning as he prepares to form a new majority government. 0:45

It will likely be weeks before Canada's new MPs get their first day in the House of Commons chamber.

Parliament is due to resume May 30, according to the date set when the election kicked off, but that's open to change, a spokeswoman for the House of Commons said on Wednesday.

It's up to Prime Minister Stephen Harper to set the date, but he and his staff haven't yet decided, the Prime Minister's Office said. A PMO spokesperson said the return date is still at least a couple of weeks away.

Departing MPs have a little over two weeks to clear out their offices, and with 107 new MPs waiting to move in, House of Commons staff are hoping for more time rather than less.

Harper must choose new cabinet

Harper also has to appoint his cabinet and have the members sworn in at Rideau Hall, an event will come before the House returns. He's got vacancies to fill after Treasury Board President Stockwell Day and Transport Minister Chuck Strahl retired. Four more cabinet ministers were defeated in their local races.

Harper made his first trip to Rideau Hall of the 41st Parliament on Wednesday morning to formally inform Gov. Gen. David Johnston that he has "consulted the public and we're prepared to form the government," Harper said as he entered the residence.

The government will have to plan around the May 27-28 G8 meeting in France, which Harper will attend.

The opening of Parliament is marked by a throne speech delivered by the Governor General, which sets out the government's agenda. Harper has said his first priority is to pass the budget. The government's next priority is to pass an omnibus crime bill, a big package drawing together the legislation the Tories have been trying to get through the House over the course of two minority parliaments.

Calgary MP Jason Kenney, the citizenship and immigration minister, who is expected to return to cabinet, says the government now has a mandate to put its policies in place.

"We can actually implement our platform. A lot of the things that we've tried to do have been thwarted by opposition parties," Kenney said on CBC News Network.

Kenney, who started his career as a Reform MP, says even though the government's got the numbers to push through its legislation, the NDP has a role to play as the official opposition.

"I would say that we [Reform MPs] had a big influence by raising issues, for example, the need for fiscal responsibility, for restraint in government spending, for tax relief," Kenney said, "that, in part, I think, created a new public opinion environment that the then-Liberal government had to respond to.

"There is something opposition can do to frame issues, to put forward issues, and I'm sure the NDP will do its level best. They have a constitutional responsibility as the Official Opposition not just to be critical of the government but to put forward their own ideas constructively."