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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Tories appear to be itching for 
an election 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 5:35 p.m. March 30, 2007]

 

OTTAWA —  MPs are off for two weeks for the Easter holidays, but when they return the following four weeks will determine whether or not there will be a spring election.  

The signs that the Conservatives are positioning themselves for an early vote are every where and pop up almost daily in Ottawa.  

On Thursday, former Conservative MP John Reynolds, who is expected to be the co-chair of the next campaign, was on a regular weekly panel on CTV Newsnet's Mike Duffy Live when he let this gem slip out about the government's law and order agenda. 

"If (the Liberals) were to defeat it, I think you might see the prime minister say it's time to go to the people." 
 
In other words, the Conservatives are already floating out very publicly potential triggers to an election they claim they don't want. 

Further evidence appeared in the newspapers on Friday morning. 

The Globe and Mail reported that sources tell them the Conservatives have already filmed and produced new television attack ads targeting Liberal leader Stephane Dion and his opposition to the budget. 

National Post columnist John Ivison, who is among the most plugged-in Ottawa Press Gallery members when it comes to Prime Minister Stephen Harper's inner circle (Ivison first reported the Tories would promise to cut the GST months before the last election), declared in his column that Harper should "force an election as soon as the polls stabilize around the 40% mark."
 
In the House of Commons, Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale is highly suspicious about why the Conservatives this week  wouldn't agree to give consent to a minor Senate amendment to the government's fixed election dates legislation. 

Had the Conservatives agreed to Goodale's two requests in the Chamber to do so on Thursday, the fixed election dates legislation would have received Royal Assent and been law on Thursday evening. 
 
"This is just one more little bit of evidence that (Harper is) trying to contrive the situation," Goodale told PoliticsWatch. 

"When he says he wants fixed election dates, he simply wants that as a political issue to flog. He's not really interested in having fixed election dates because it fetters his political discretion." 

If the PM forces an election before the bill is law, he could be accused of  breaking a campaign promise. If he forces an election after the bill is law, the PM could be accused of breaking the spirit of his own law. 

In cyberspace there are more signs that the Tories are laying the groundwork to blame the opposition parties, primarily the Liberals, of wanting to have a spring election. 

The Conservative Party Web site still has at the top of its "Just The Facts" page an article listing 11 quotes from Dion, Goodale and other Liberals from back when the Liberals were ahead of the Tories in the polls saying they want an election as soon as possible.  

"If we are tied with the Conservatives without a leader, I think with a new leader and all the publicity of our convention, we should move in front after the convention and it will be good for us to have a spring election,” Liberal MP John McCallum is quoted as telling the Globe in October. 

However, with the Liberals trailing the Conservatives in all the polls, Dion now starts off virtually every speech by saying that Liberals and Canadians don't want an election, even though he is convinced Harper does. 

"The Prime Minister seems determined to force an election on Canadians," Dion told his caucus this week. 

"Millions of dollars spent on negative ads; boot camp for Conservative candidates; sending a spy to follow me around the country. And now, a budget so discriminatory it must have been written by a pollster."

While there is no smoking gun, if you add up all the circumstantial evidence it would take an O.J. Simpson trial juror not to connect all the dots. The Conservatives want an election as soon as possible and at a time of their choosing instead of waiting until later when the opposition parties can pick when they want to go. 

However, floating ideas on how to trigger an election is just one thing giving them pause. 

The last two federal elections have cost over $275 million each. If an election is held this spring it will be the third election in three years and the fourth election since 2000. It will also push the total cost of elections in this millennium over the $1 billion mark. 

Are Canadians ready for yet another election forced upon them? 

It's not easy to say. 

On the one hand, Jean Chretien's 2000 election came nearly a year ahead of schedule and voters did not punish him. But not so for Ontario Premier David Peterson, whose opportunism was penalized and brought Bob Rae to power in 1990. 

While many around Harper are reportedly enthused by this week's election results, it might give the prime minister pause. 

Although the election wasn't unnecessarily early, Quebec Premier Jean Charest called it when his party had opened a sizeable lead in the polls and appeared in majority territory. 

A few weeks later and Charest now finds himself having to rely on one of either the "autonomous" ADQ and the separatist Parti Quebecois to get legislation passed. 

And it is something for Harper and the Conservatives to think about as they look at those strong polling numbers over the next two weeks. 

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 when it returns on April 16

Monday to Wednesday

Bill C-52 Budget Implementation Bill

Bill C-33, on income tax; 
Bill C-40, on the Excise Tax Act; 
Bill C-10, on mandatory and minimum penalties; 
Bill C-16, fixed dates for elections;
Bill C-27, on dangerous offenders; 
Bill C-45, the Fisheries Act, 2007.

Thursday

Opposition Day

____________________

Committee Highlights

No meetings scheduled 

> 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: Passed in the House February 28, 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 Passed in the Senate March 28, 2007

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: Passed in the House March 28, 2007

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:
Returned from the special legislative committee with amendments on March 30, 2007.


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 March 29, 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:
Referred to special legislative committee, March 27, 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:
Passed in the House March 19, 2007


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

Status:
Royal Assent March 29, 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:
Returned from finance committee March 19, 2007

C-41 An Act to amend the Competition Act 

Status:
Second Reading February 27

C-42 An Act to amend the Quarantine Act 

Status:
Referred to the Health committee March 29

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:
Second Reading February 23, 2007

C-46 — The Minister of Labour — An Act to provide for the resumption and continuation of railway operations 

Status:
Introduced February 23, 2007

This bill was designed to end the labour dispute at CN Rail. 

C-47 The Minister of Industry — An Act respecting the protection of marks related to the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games and protection against certain misleading business associations and making a related amendment to the Trade-marks Act 

Status:
Introduced March 2, 2007

C-48 — The Minister of Justice — An Act to amend the Criminal Code in order to implement the United Nations Convention against Corruption 

Introduced March 22, 2007 

C-49 — The President of the Treasury Board — 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. 4, 2006-2007) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-50 — The President of the Treasury Board — An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the federal public administration for the financial year ending March 31, 2008 (Appropriation Act No. 1, 2007-2008) 

Royal Assent March 29, 2007

C-51 — The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development — An Act to give effect to the Nunavik Inuit Land Claims Agreement and to make a consequential amendment to another Act 

Introduced March 22, 2007 

C-52 — The Minister of Finance — An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 19, 2007 

Second Reading March 30, 2007 

This is the budget implementation bill. 

C-53 — The Minister of Foreign Affairs — An Act to implement the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States (ICSID Convention) 

Introduced March 30, 2007 

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