With three weeks left before the House adjourns until 2017, the government wants to pass some of its top priorities and it could use time allocation or extended House debate hours to do so.
“It will be very tight and difficult in the last couple of weeks. At some point we’re going to have to start seeing bills pass,” Liberal MP Kevin Lamoureux (Winnipeg North, Man.), parliamentary secretary to Government House Leader Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.), told The Hill Times last week.
“That’s where [we ask], ‘Okay, are we going to be able to do this, or are we going to have to take other measures?’ Whether it’s sitting longer hours or looking at other tools,” he said.
When asked if he was ruling out using the heavy-hand of time allocation to shut down debate, he said, “No, but it is not something we would want to do. Cooperation is the first and most important option.”
The Liberals have used time allocation eight times so far since winning power.
The government wants to pass Bill C-30, to implement the Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement. The Liberals had hoped to pass it into committee last week after debating it last week at second reading, however, both the New Democrats and Conservatives are signalling they would like to debate it longer. The Conservatives want to talk about their role as the previous governing party in making the deal and the New Democrats want to air their concerns with the trade deal.
NDP MP Murray Rankin (Victoria, B.C.) said a number of his caucus members feel strongly about being able to get up and speak for their constituents on CETA, so they’re hoping the government obliges, but are also prepared for debate to be cut off
“Every time a government brings in the guillotine of time allocation, people are upset,” said Mr. Rankin. “The fact that this government is now choosing to use Harper-like techniques seems so unfair and so unnecessary and so inconsistent with the tone that they have been talking about up until lately. So I find it sad that they’ve resorted to that.”
Mr. Lamoureux said he would like to see 15 or 20 bills move from their current stages, either to second reading into committee, or from third reading and into the Senate before the holidays. He said with tensions likely to start fraying more as the weeks pass, it could be a good time to clear through a number of the less controversial bills as well.
“As you get more and more into your mandate, legislation starts to accumulate and it becomes more difficult if you hold passing things. So from a government perspective, we’d like to get as many bills through [as possible],” he said.
Over the last few weeks, the government has introduced three new bills, bringing the total number of government bills on the Order Paper to 27, and Mr. Lamoureux said there’s more to come before the end of the year.
The newest bills are:
Bill C-32, An Act that repeals Section 159 of the Criminal Code that criminalizes anal sex between non-married people younger than 18 by levelling the age of consent to 16, which is the age of consent for all other types of sex. It was introduced by Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.) and is being supported by the NDP, and has varying levels of support among Conservatives.
Bill C-33, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act, which makes seven changes to voting, including repealing changes to voter ID, vouching, and ex-pats voting brought in by the last government under the Fair Elections Act. The legislation also includes more powers and information for Canada’s chief electoral officer and creates a registry for future electors. It was tabled by Democratic Institutions Minister Maryam Monsef (Peterborough-Kawartha, Ont.) on Nov. 24 and has the initial support of the NDP. The Conservatives say they’re still reviewing it, but that “Canadians are very concerned that individuals who have not resided in Canada in decades could potentially have an impact on elections.”
Bill S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act which seeks to regulate advertising, packaging, and the age of purchase for e-cigarettes and vaping products. It’s received the backing of Health Minister Jane Philpott (Markham-Stouffville, Ont.) and is being sponsored in the Senate by Ind. Sen. Chantal Petitclerc (Grandville, Que.).
The government also put on notice, but did not yet introduce another bill from Treasury Board President Scott Brison (Kings-Hants, N.S.) to amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act.
This week in the House, MPs will spend Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday debating Bill C-26, which amends the Canada Pension Plan, at report stage after the House Finance Committee spent one day reviewing it and sent it back to the House.
The government is also expected to deal with Bill C-22, the legislation to establish the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians, which is nearing completion of its study at the House Public Safety and National Security Committee.
Mr. Rankin said he will be putting forward a number of amendments and said he is confident some will be passed, but he’s not sure how far his Liberal colleagues will be willing to push it.
As well, Thursday, Dec. 1, is the deadline for the House Special Electoral Reform Committee to report back on its findings of its cross-Canada consultations on electoral reform and will be recommending next steps to the government.
The House Finance Committee is proposing looking at studying the subject matter of Bill S-4, the Tax Convention and Arrangement Implementation Act, 2016, or the bill itself if it passes into the House by Dec. 5. Currently it’s at second reading in the Senate after being introduced earlier this month.
The Senate is beginning to sit on Mondays this week in an effort to move more bills through over the next three weeks. Of the 27 bills the government’s trying to pass, nine are before the Senate. One of the bills, Bill C-2, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, that rolls out the marquee Liberal middle-class tax changes, was amended by the Conservative-dominated Senate National Finance Committee last week, forcing it to go back before the House before receiving royal assent.
Bill C-2 has been on the books for just under a year and is the third bill the Senate has amended this Parliament, the others being Bill C-14, the physician-assisted dying legislation that has received royal assent, and Bill C-7, the RCMP union bill, which since the Senate’s amendment last spring, the government has not touched.
On Thursday it’s a Conservative opposition day. It’s not clear yet what the Conservatives will be debating, but in an email statement to The Hill Times last week, a spokesperson for Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen (Portage-Lisgar, Man.) said: “The issues most Canadians are concerned about are jobs and the economy. It is unfortunate that the Liberal government is not moving forward with measures to get Canadians back to work.”
As for private members’ business, the House Justice Committee is anticipating moving to clause-by-clause on Bill S-201, Genetic Non-Discrimination Act, from Liberal Sen. Jim Cowan (Nova Scotia) on Thursday. The bill is being sponsored by Liberal MP Rob Oliphant (Don Valley West, Ont.) in the House, and has pitted the backbench Liberals against cabinet where the Justice minister wants to see amendments to protect against a constitutional challenge, but some Liberal members on the committee, like their opposition counterparts, want to see the bill passed with little to no change.
There will be two other Senate public bills that have passed the Red Chamber and are now being sponsored in the House that MPs will debate next week: on Tuesday, Nov. 29, Conservative MP Michael Cooper (St. Albert-Edmonton, Alta.) is bringing forward Conservative Sen. Bon Runciman’s (Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, Ont.) Bill S-217, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (detention in custody); and on Thursday Liberal MP Darren Fisher (Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, N.S.) is going to bring forward Bill S-211, National Sickle Cell Awareness Day Act from Liberal Sen. Jane Cordy (Nova Scotia).
On Monday, Nov. 28, during private members’ business time, MPs will debate at report stage Bill C-238, the National Strategy for Safe Disposal of Lamps Containing Mercury Act from Mr. Fisher. On Wednesday, Nov. 30, MPs will resume second reading debate on NDP MP Brigitte Sansoucy’s (Saint-Hyacinthe-Bagot, Que.) Bill C-245, Poverty Reduction Act. On Friday, Dec. 2, NDP MP Fin Donnelly (Port Moody-Coquitlam, B.C.) will be up with his Bill C-228, An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (closed containment aquaculture) that has been endorsed by William Shatner.
Mr. Rankin said the NDP is working to pull in the Atlantic Canada Liberal MPs into supporting C-228 because of their shared understanding of the fisheries industry and the impact fish stocks can have on the economy.
All this considered, Mr. Lamoureux says he’s not ruling out rising early for the winter break, but to do so would mean “that there was really good discussion that had taken place and both sides, both opposition and government were happy with the results. Otherwise, I would recommend that MPs do what I’m doing and plan on getting out on the last day.”
The House is scheduled to adjourn on Dec. 16 and will return on Monday, Jan. 30, 2017.
House of Commons
C-5, An Act to Repeal Division 20 of Part 3 of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1 (second reading)
C-7, An Act to Amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act, Public Service Labour Relations and Employment Board Act, and others (consideration of amendments made by the Senate)
C-12, An Act to Amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act (second reading)
C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act (second reading)
C-18, An Act to amend the Rouge National Urban Park Act, Parks Canada Agency Act, and Canada National Parks Act (second reading)
C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act (second reading)
C-22, National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians Act (committee)
C-23, Preclearance Act (second reading)
C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and the Financial Administration Act (second reading)
C-25, An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, Canada Cooperatives Act, Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and Competition Act (second reading)
C-26, An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board Act, and Income Tax Act (report stage)
C-27, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985 (second reading)
C-28, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (victim surcharge) (second reading)
C-29, Budget Implementation Act, No. 2 (committee)
C-30, Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement Implementation Act (second reading)
C-31, Canada-Ukraine Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act (second reading)
C-32, An Act related to the repeal of section 159 of the Criminal Code (second reading)
C-33, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (second reading)
S-2, Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians (committee)
S-3, An Act to amend the Indian Act (elimination of sex-based inequities in registration) (committee)
S-4, Tax Convention and Arrangement Implementation Act, 2016 (second reading)
C-2, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (committee)
C-4, An Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code, Parliamentary Employment and Staff Relations Act, Public Service Labour Relations Act, and Income Tax Act (second reading)
C-6, An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act (second reading)
C-13, An Act to enable Canada to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement (committee)
C-16, An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act and the Criminal Code (second reading)
The Hill Times