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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

MPs vote on Anti-Terror bill on Tuesday 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:45 p.m. February 23, 2007]

 

OTTAWA —  The raging debate in the Liberal caucus and on Parliament Hill will reach a crescendo next week when MPs vote on extending two anti-terror measures.   

The vote is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday. 

But the vote will not end the prime minister's hammering of the Liberals as "soft on terror." 

The two provisions will cease to exist on March 1 if Parliament does not pass them. They give police the power to arrest someone and hold them for 72 hours if they suspected them of planning a terror attack and it allows a judge to force someone with knowledge of a terrorist attack to appear before an investigative hearing.  

They have been in effect since 2001 but have not been used during that time. They were so controversial when introduced that the government included a sunset clause requiring them to be renewed by Parliament after five years. 

The Anti-Terror Law was introduced by a Liberal government, but now the Liberals are joining with the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP to vote against renewing the two provisions. 

This is not sitting well with a number of current and former prominent Liberals, including former leadership candidate Bob Rae and former justice minister Irwin Cotler

In addition, the controversial provisions were the source of the biggest dust up in the House of Commons since the Tories were elected last year. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper was shouted down by the Liberals in the House of Commons this week when he tried to read into the record a Vancouver Sun article reporting that the father in law of a Liberal MP was possible witness at of a investigative hearing into the Air India bombing. 

The same father in law was also an alternative delegate for the Liberals at their Montreal convention, according to the Sun article. 

Harper's decision to bring up the issue has been widely viewed in the media as some type of gaffe that if the prime minister had to do over again he wouldn't let happen. 

Harper "was back in fine self-immolation form yesterday" wrote National Post columnist Don Martin on Thursday, who said it exposed the PM's "dark side."

One thing all reporters can agree on is that Harper's decision to raise this issue in the Commons was no slip of the tongue. 

Harper decided to discuss this article in response to a question that was totally off topic. And one of his communication aides emailed some reporters the article while the Liberals were berating the PM and demanding an apology in the Commons. 

Why would the PM do this? 

Harper is doing this because he appears to want attention drawn to what he and others perceive as growing radicalism within the Liberal party. 

"The Liberal Party has provided no explanation as to why it has reversed its own -- on its own legislation within the last two weeks and really, the Liberal Party has got to respond," Harper told reporters after the raucous Wednesday question period. 

But concerns about why the Liberals have changed their position is not simply a Conservative smear, as many in the media have alleged. 

Canadian Press reporter Joan Bryden wrote a detailed story about the machinations in the Liberal caucus on the anti-terror provisions two days before the uproar in the House. The story included a little tidbit that was buried in the 20th paragraph reporting that some Liberal MPs "privately grouse that Dion has been influenced by militant Sikh and Muslim groups, members of which helped secure his leadership victory last December." 

Harper has been trying to make these links himself publicly for two weeks. 

Last week in response to a question from one of his own MPs in the House of Commons on the Anti-Terror Act, the PM said Liberal Leader Stephane Dion was "being led by extremist elements in his own caucus."

The PM accusing an opposition party of having "extremists" in their midst is about the strongest language that one can use. Surprisingly, the Liberals never raised a ruckus about it and it consequently went largely unnoticed in the media. 

But Harper's use of the word "extremist" was no accident either. Questions to the PM from government MPs are as tightly scripted as it gets in Ottawa.

Further proof can be found on the Conservative Party Web site where at the moment the top item on the home page is about Dion ignoring Liberals on the anti-terror law. 

"Stéphane Dion is a weak leader who is beholden to extreme elements in the Liberal caucus," the party says. 

Harper's first swing at the plate didn't work, so it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that when the Vancouver Sun article appeared the Conservatives would try to bring it up. 

Many reporters are asking why Harper did this himself? Why not have one of his henchmen do this? 

The prime minister appears to know that if Jason Kenney brought this up no one would have blinked an eyelash. 

That is why Harper, unlike Paul Martin who would let Scott Brison handle the Adscam fires in question period, decided to get as much camera time as possible in question period on Wednesday, responding to the attacks of six different Liberal MPs when usually the PM traditionally only responds to the party leaders. 

Had Harper not brought this up, the details of the Vancouver Sun article would have been limited to Vancouver Sun readers. But his decision to raise this and the Liberals surprisingly reaction to spend the entire question period demanding an apology made it a network news story for two days. 

The prime minister a number of Tories and, according to CP, even some Liberals are seriously concerned about "extremists" or "militants"  in the Liberal party having too much sway on what appears to be in the early going a weak leader. 

However, the national media seems more interested in whether the PM trying to read a newspaper article into Hansard is beneath the job of prime minister. 


The Legislative Update is posted every Friday afternoon when the House is sitting. To stay informed on all the political events read PoliticsWatch's  Morning Briefing updated at 9:30 a.m. ET Monday to Friday and the Daily Agenda updated at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.
  
______________

The House will deal with the following bills next week

Monday 

Continued debate on the anti-terrorism act

Tuesday and Wednesday

Bill C-37, financial institutions; 
Bill C-41, competition; 
Bill C-11, transport; 
Bill S-3, defence; 
Bill C-42, the Quarantine Act; 
Bill C-36, Canada pension plan and old age security; 
Bill C-10, mandatory minimum penalties.

Thursday 

Opposition Day

____________________

Committee Highlights

Monday

> Auditor General Sheila Fraser appears before the public accounts committee. 

Tuesday

>  Industry Minister Maxime Bernier appears before the defence committee to discuss military procurement. 

> Defence Minister Gordon O'Connor, International Cooperation Minister Josée Verner and Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier appear before the official languages committee to discuss the defence department's official language policies. 


> Full Schedule


____________________

Bills the Tories have tabled in this Parliament 

C-2 An Act providing for conflict of interest rules, restrictions on election financing and measures respecting administrative transparency, oversight and accountability

Status: Royal Assent December 12

This is better known the Federal Accountability Act, which a number of new measures and a massive list of amendments to current laws aimed at cleaning up government. The bill is the government's No. 1 priority.

C-3 An Act respecting international bridges and tunnels and making a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Royal Assent February 1, 2007

C-4 An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-5 An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts

Status: Royal Assent December 12

C-6 An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Referred to transport committee November 7

C-7 An Act to amend the National Defence Act

Status: Introduced April 27

C-8 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2007

Status: Royal Assent May 11

C-9 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment)

Status: Passed in the House November 3

C-10 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum penalties for offences involving firearms) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status: Returned from justice committee February 21, 2007

C-11 An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status: Concurred at report stage February 21, 2007

C-12 An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts

Status: Passed in the House December 11

C-13 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006

Status: Royal Assent June 22

This is the budget implementation bill. The bill was accidentally given unanimous consent in the House on third reading when none of the opposition parties objected after confusion over who would speak to the bill.

C-14 An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption)

Status: Referred to citizenship and immigration committee June 13

This bill makes it easier for parents to obtain citizenship for children they adopt from overseas.

C-15 An Act to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act

Status: Royal Assent June 22

C-16 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act

Status: Passed in the House November 6

C-17 An Act to amend the Judges Act and certain other Acts in relation to courts

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill sets salaries for federally-appointed judges at a lower rate than that recommended by an independent panel. The panel wanted 10.8 per cent increase plus cost of living. The government is offering 7.25 per cent in the bill plus cost of living.

C-18 An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA identification

Status: Sent to justice committee October 4

C-19 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act

Status: Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens punitive measures against convicted street racers. 

C-20 An Act respecting airports, airport authorities and other airport operators and amending the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada Act

Status: Introduced June 15

C-21 An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (non-registration of firearms that are neither prohibited nor restricted)

Status: Introduced June 19

This bill we effectively kill the long-arm registry.

C-22 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (age of protection) and to make consequential amendments to the Criminal Records Act

Status: Referred to justice committee October 30

C-23 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal procedure, language of the accused, sentencing and other amendments)

Status: Referred to the Justice committee October 16

C-24 An Act to impose a charge on the export of certain softwood lumber products to the United States and a charge on refunds of certain duty deposits paid to the United States, to authorize certain payments, to amend the Export and Import Permits Act and to amend other Acts as a consequence

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This is the implementation legislation for the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. 

C-25 An Act to amend the Proceeds of Crime (Money Laundering) and Terrorist Financing Act and the Income Tax Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

Status:
Royal Assent December 14

This bill toughens money laundering and terror financing laws and would give the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada the power to monitor money wiring and travellers cheques services. 

C-26 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (criminal interest rate)

Status:
Passed in the House February 6, 2007


C-27 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (dangerous offenders and recognizance to keep the peace)

Status:
Second reading, February 14, 2007

This bill places the onus on three time sexual and violent offenders to prove to the Crown they are not deserving of dangerous offender status.

C-28 A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on May 2, 2006 

Status:
Royal Assent February 21, 2007


C-29 An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act 

Status:
Introduced October 18


C-30 An Act to amend the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999, the Energy Efficiency Act and the Motor Vehicle Fuel Consumption Standards Act (Canada's Clean Air Act) 

Status:
Referred to special legislative committee December 4; Tory MP Laurie Hawn appointed committee chair December 12

All three opposition parties say they will vote against the government's main plank of its Green Plan.  

C-31 An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Public Service Employment Act

Status:
Passed in the House February 20, 2007

This bill will require voters to present photo ID at polling stations. 

C-32 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status:
Referred to the justice committee February 6, 2007

This bill will impose penalties for those convicted of driving under the influence of drugs 

C-33 An Act to amend the Income Tax Act, including amendments in relation to foreign investment entities and non-resident trusts, and to provide for the bijural expression of the provisions of that Act 

Status:
Second Reading February 21, 2007


C-34 An Act to provide for jurisdiction over education on First Nation lands in British Columbia

Status:
Royal Assent December 12


C-35 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (reverse onus in bail hearings for firearm-related offences) 

Status:
Special legislative committee chair appointed February 22, 2007

This bill requires those charged with gun crimes prove why they should be granted bail before trial.

C-36 An Act to amend the Canada Pension Plan and the Old Age Security Act 

Status:
Referred to Human Resources committee January 30, 2007


C-37 An Act to amend the law governing financial institutions and to provide for related and consequential matters

Status:
Returned from the finance committee with amendments February 21, 2007

This bill, among other things, lowers the legal minimum mortgage downpayment consumers have to make on a home.

C-38 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 2, 2006-2007) 

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Main estimates

C-39 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2007 (Appropriation Act No. 3, 2006-2007)

Status:
Royal Assent December 12

Supplementary estimates

C-40 An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act, the Excise Act, 2001 and the Air Travellers Security Charge Act and to make related amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Referred to finance committee, January 30, 2007

C-41 An Act to amend the Competition Act 

Status:
Introduced December 7

C-42 An Act to amend the Quarantine Act 

Status:
Introduced December 12

C-43 An Act to provide for consultations with electors on their preferences for appointments to the Senate

Status:
Introduced December 13

This bill will allow for Elections Canada to hold votes to select candidates to fill Senate vacancies in province-wide races.

C-44 An Act to amend the Canadian Human Rights Act

Status:
Sent to aboriginal affairs committee February 21, 2007

This law will remove a controversial section of the act that provides an exemption for aboriginal Canadians. 

C-45 An Act respecting the sustainable development of Canada's seacoast and inland fisheries

Status:
Introduced December 13

: Related Links

> Check out last week's legislative update

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