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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Budget to dominate House business 

[PoliticsWatch Updated 1:50 p.m. May 5, 2006]

 

OTTAWA —  The budget will remain on the agenda in Ottawa next week as it will be the main item debated in the House.  

However, the debate will be largely anti-climatic since the Bloc Quebecois has signalled that it will provide the votes necessary to get it through the House..

The budget is a confidence vote and its defeat would mean the defeat of the government and result in an election. 

A new wrinkle was thrown into the mix this week when Prime Minister Stephen Harper openly speculated about the Liberals using their majority in the Senate to delay passage of the bill, which has received largely positive reviews from pundits. 

"I say only this to the Leader of the Opposition. If he and his party are so opposed to this budget, they can grandstand here but we will see what position they take over in the Senate where they have a majority," Harper said in the House. 

Liberal interim Leader Bill Graham seemed taken aback by Harper's comments and offered an unclear response when reporters asked him if the Liberals were planning on holding up the budget in the Senate. 

"I am urging our fellow Liberal senators to do what we're doing in the House of Commons, which is to stand up for what we believe are the right principles and try to make sure that the Canadian public understands exactly what's at stake in this budget," Graham said. 

The Liberals are criticizing the budget primarily on two fronts involving what appears to be a backing away from past Liberal policies on Kyoto and the Kelowna Accord reached with aboriginal leaders in the dying days of the Liberal government. 

The Senate cannot defeat bills but they can return them to the House of Commons. 

Unelected senators delaying the work of elected members of the House of Commons would be a risky strategy for the Liberals to employ. 

However, the strategy is in the Liberal playbook and one only has to go back to the last time there was a Conservative government to see it in practice. 

On two occasions during Brian Mulroney's government the Liberals employed the Senate to obstruct government bills. 

In 1988, at then Liberal leader John Turner's urging the Liberals used their majority in the Senate to schedule lengthy hearings examining the controversial free trade agreement with the U.S. And in 1991, the Liberals filibustered the GST bill in the Senate. 

Once the budget passes second reading in the House of Commons it will be sent to the finance committee for further review. The finance committee held its first meeting this week and elected Tory MP Brian Pallister as its chair.  

All House committees are beginning to meet and by next week almost all of them will have elected a chair.  

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.
  
______________

Here's what's happening in the House next week 

Monday: Second reading of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Aeronautics Act and Budget debate continues 

Tuesday and Wednesday: Budget debate continues

Thursday: Opposition Day

____________________

Committee Highlights

Tuesday


> Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro appears before the Procedure and House Affairs committee.

> 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: Referred to committee April 27

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 and the Tories want it passed before the summer recess in June, but already some senators are threatening to hold up the bill because it creates a joint ethics commissioner for the House and Senate. 

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

Status: Referred to transport committee May 1

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

Status: Passed in the House April 27

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

Status: Second reading May 2

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

Status: Introduced April 27

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: Passed in the House May 3

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

Status: Introduced May 4

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: Introduced May 4

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

Status: Introduced May 4

: Related Links

> Read last week's Legislative Update
> Harper's Parliamentary agenda 

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