The Liberals have now run past the halfway mark of their first mandate, and the time to make good on the remainder of their campaign promises is slowly ticking away.
The Liberals made 353 promises in their campaign platform, and more since taking power, and the majority have yet to be delivered on in full, according to a pair of online election promise trackers for the governing Liberals run by Laval University and the Liberal Party itself.
Some of those promises have been abandoned already, such as the promise to reform Canada’s electoral system, or open ministerial offices to access to information requests. But most are still in play, including several requiring legislative changes that the government has signalled will be dealt with in the coming year, but have not yet been tabled in Parliament.
The Liberals’ online election promise tracker says the government expects to introduce a National Disabilities Act and legislation to reduce the pay gap between men and women in the federally-regulated sectors, and change the Fisheries Act and Navigation Protection Act within a year.
The online tracker also says the government plans to introduce legislation on firearm safety in the “near future.” The Liberals had promised during the 2015 election campaign to “take pragmatic action to make it harder for criminals to get, and use, handguns and assault weapons,” including repealing legal changes made by the previous Conservative government that allowed some weapons to be transferred without a permit, and requiring “enhanced” background checks for some firearms purchases.
Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, Que.) has promised to introduce an Indigenous languages bill at some point in 2018, and the government also has to implement the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, and all 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. While it has promised to support a private member’s bill from NDP MP Romeo Saganash (Abitibi -Baie-James-Nunavik0-Eeyou, Que.) that would support implementing UNDRIP, the national chief for the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, told The Hill Times the government may decide to introduce its own legislation, and would likely have to do so by the spring of 2018 to ensure its passage before the election.
The government will also have to act on any legislative changes that come out of ongoing reviews of the Copyright Act and environmental assessment process, as well as a review of the Immigration and Refugee Board, which came from a campaign promise to review Canada’s Designated Countries of Origin system for asylum seekers.
Pot first up in Senate, security and fundraising in House
The government is pointing to seven of the 34 bills currently in Parliament as priority items when the House returns in January, including bills C-59 on national security, C-50 on political fundraising, and C-65 on workplace harassment, in the House, and C-58 on access to information, C-49 on transportation, C-46 on impaired driving, and C-45 on marijuana legalization in the Senate.
Bill C-27, changing Canada’s pension laws, is likely to receive plenty of attention as well when—or if—it progresses from second reading. The bill is sponsored by Finance Minister Bill Morneau (Toronto Centre, Ont.), and ethics commissioner Mary Dawson—who leaves her post on Jan. 8—is investigating whether the minister was in a conflict of interest when he introduced the bill in 2016, while he still held shares in his former company, Morneau Shepell, which helps to manage pensions for Canadian companies.
The NDP has called for C-27 to be withdrawn because of that potential conflict, while the Conservatives have vowed to use any debate over bills sponsored by Mr. Morneau to put the spotlight on allegations that the finance minister has been in a conflict of interest during his time in cabinet. Mr. Morneau said he had sold all of his shares in his former company last month.
The Senate will kick off its study of C-45 by sitting as a committee of the whole when it returns, bringing in three ministers and the government’s shepherd for the bill, Liberal MP Bill Blair (Scarborough Southwest, Ont.), for a televised grilling by any and all Senators who can get a question in. The idea was put forth in the Senate by the government’s representative in the Chamber, Senator Peter Harder (Ottawa, Ont.), after a discussion between the leaders of the four factions in the Senate, according to Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith (Saurel, Que.).
Justice Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Vancouver Granville, B.C.), Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor (Moncton-Riverview-Dieppe, N.B.), Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale (Regina-Wascana, Sask.), and Mr. Blair, who is the parliamentary secretary for Ms. Wilson Raybould and Ms. Petitpas Taylor, have all been invited to appear before the Senate when it returns on Feb. 6. That meeting will not replace the usual Senate committee process for Bill C-45, which is currently at second reading in the Chamber.
Status of Government Bills
HOUSE OF COMMONS
S-5, An Act to amend the Tobacco Act and the Non-smokers’ Health Act
C-5, An Act to Repeal Division 20 of Part 3 of the Economic Action Plan 2015 Act, No. 1
C-12, An Act to amend the Canadian Forces Members and Veterans Re-establishment and Compensation Act
C-27, An Act to amend the Pension Benefits Standards Act, 1985
C-28, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (victim surcharge)
C-32, An Act related to the repeal of section 159 of the Criminal Code
C-33, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act
C-34, An Act to amend the Public Service Labour Relations Act
C-38, An Act to amend an Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons)
C-39, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (unconstitutional provisions)
C-42, Veterans Well-being Act
C-43, An Act respecting a payment to be made out of the Consolidated Revenue Fund to support a pan-Canadian artificial intelligence strategy
C-52, Supporting Vested Rights Under Access to Information Act
C-56, An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole Act
C-62, An Act to amend the Federal Public Sector Labour Relations Act and other Acts
C-65, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (harassment and violence)
C-47, An Act to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and the Criminal Code (amendments permitting the accession to the Arms Trade Treaty)
C-48, Oil Tanker Moratorium Act
C-59, An Act respecting national security matters
C-64, Wrecked, Abandoned, or Hazardous Vessels Act
S-2, Strengthening Motor Vehicle Safety for Canadians Act
C-21, An Act to amend the Customs Act
C-50, An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (political financing)
C-55, An Act to amend the Oceans Act and the Canada Petroleum Resources Act
C-57, An Act to amend the Federal Sustainable Development Act
House of Commons Bills awaiting First Reading:
C-24, An Act to amend the Salaries Act and the Financial Administration Act
C-66, Expungement of Historically Unjust Convictions Act
C-45, Cannabis Act
C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances)
C-51, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Department of Justice Act
C-58, An Act to amend the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act
C-17, An Act to amend the Yukon Environmental and Socio-economic Assessment Act
C-25, An Act to amend the Canada Business Corporations Act, Canada Cooperatives Act, Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act, and Competition Act
C-49, Transportation Modernization Act
AWAITING ROYAL ASSENT
C-61, Anishinabek Nation Education Agreement Act
C-63, Budget Implementation Act, 2017, No. 2