Tuesday, September 21, 2021

MPs scramble to pass priority bills before summer but they could stall in Senate

OTTAWA—The House of Commons is set to break through today for the summer – and possibly for an election – after an eleventh hour approval of the minority Liberal government considers its priority legislation.

But it is not certain that the Senate will be as accommodating.

Three priority bills have popped up in the Senate over the past few days and a fourth are expected to move to the upper house later today, where some senators are shying away from the prospect of moving them at lightning speed.

The Senate is still scheduled to wrap up today and will seek unanimous consent to expand the meeting to its current hybrid format, adopted to allow virtual participation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate committees have already pre-studied two of the four bills—the C-30, the Budget Implementation Bill, and the C-12, which would set targets for achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050—so they plan to build it. have chances. For one final vote.

But two others—C-6, a bill banning conversion therapy aimed at changing a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity, and C-10, a controversial bill to regulate online streaming giants—have been passed through the Senate. Unanimous consent would be required to fast-track from , without study by a committee.

The leader of the Canadian Senators Group, Sen. Scott Tannes, warned the Senate on Tuesday that his 12-member caucus would not be stamped out for abandoning his duty to seriously consider the legislation.

He remembered an old saying: “Your poor planning is not my emergency.”

On behalf of his group, Tannas said, “In the days to come, we will carefully and thoughtfully apply that principle.”

On Tuesday late night, discussions were going on between the leaders of various Senate groups to increase the meeting of the Senate. But even if they agree to do so, it is unclear if they will sit there long enough to cover all four priority bills.

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Any bill that is not passed by the Senate will die if, as many suspect, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau calls an election this summer.

The Conservatives are scrambling to get four priority bills through the Liberal Commons because of the delay strategy.

With the help of Block Québécois and the NDP, the government secured final approval for C-10 in the Commons late on Monday and C-6 on Tuesday. He passed C-12 just after midnight today.

The budget bill is to be put to the final vote this afternoon before being sent along to the Senate.

The government has dropped a number of other bills that were once considered a priority, including C−19, which would have given the chief electoral officer temporarily new powers to ensure that elections are held during the pandemic. to be held safely during

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If Trudeau calls an election this summer or fall, it will be without those safeguards.

Other laws still stuck in the Commons legislative process include bills to strengthen privacy protections, tighten firearms restrictions, reform the criminal justice system, overhaul the Official Languages ​​Act, and introduce a new disability benefit.

The disability benefits bill was introduced on Tuesday, with little to no progress being expected before the House rises. Such last-minute initiatives have fueled suspicions that Trudeau intends to pull the plug on his government and hold on to unfinished business, for example the Liberals could have gotten things done if they had a majority.

During the winter and spring, the government did manage to obtain royal assent to more than a dozen laws, including expanding access to medical aid in the dying, requiring sexual assault training for judges, and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous. implementation is included. People, create a National Day of Truth and Reconciliation, and amend the Citizenship Pledge to include recognition of indigenous rights.

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MPs scramble to pass priority bills before summer but they could stall in Senate
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