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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Quebec and softwood votes expected in the House

[PoliticsWatch Updated 3:30 p.m. November 24, 2006]

 

OTTAWA —  MPs will try to push through three major initiatives in the House of Commons next week.  

But time will be a major factor as the House will sit for just three days. 

The entire Parliament will adjourn on Wednesday to allow Liberals to attend their leadership convention in Montreal. 

Quebec is Nation

The House will be preoccupied with the two votes on recognizing Quebec as a nation.  

Debate is expected to continue on Monday on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion recognizing Quebecois as a nation within a united Canada. It is not clear when the vote will be held on the motion, but all parties, including the Bloc are expected to support the motion.  

Only two MPs have signalled they will vote against it -- Liberal Jim Karygiannis and Independent MP Garth Turner. Liberal MP Hedy Fry said she is having a difficult time with supporting it and at least two Tory MPs are a bit confused. 
 
The Bloc's motion, which simply reads Quebecois form a nation that is currently within Canada, is expected to come to a vote on Tuesday. 

Softwood lumber

After debates on these motions conclude, MPs will return their focus to the final stage in the House of the softwood lumber agreement enabling legislation.  

If it comes to a vote next week it will be a matter of confidence, but the government has the support of the Bloc meaning the bill will easily pass in the House. 

Both the Liberals and the NDP are voting against the bill. The Liberals have been low-key in their opposition to the bill unlike the NDP which attempted to filibuster the bill in committee earlier this month.

NDP hostility towards the softwood lumber deal and NAFTA continued on the floor of the House this week, when NDP MP Pat Martin made some over-the-top remarks about Canada's free trade deal with the U.S. 

"I think the people who negotiated the free trade agreement should be
dragged into the streets and shot, frankly, and as for the people who
negotiated this agreement, it borders on economic treason to sell the
economic interests of Canada down the river for God knows what other
secondary objective they may be trying to achieve," Martin said during debate on Wednesday afternoon. 

PoliticsWatch caught up with Martin on Parliament Hill Friday to find out what he meant by his comments. 

"Obviously, I was speaking figuratively rather than literally," Martin said when reminded he made the comments. "I don't think I would advocate that any one particular member of the negotiating team should be executed. It's a figure of speech that pretty accurately reflects the degree of frustration we feel."

The MP said a lot of activists are frustrated because they have warned about the downside of globalization for years and now many of the problems they predicted are starting to be experienced, including the lumber dispute. 

Once the softwood deal is passed in the House it will end up in the Senate. What is not clear is whether or not the Liberals in the Senate will do what they did with the Federal Accountability Act and conduct a committee study of the legislation with witnesses before granting Royal Assent.

If such a scenario were to occur, that could tie the bill up in Parliament past the Christmas holidays and into the new year. 

Federal Accountability Act

Speaking of the Senate, the Federal Accountability Act was returned to the Senate for a second time earlier this week after the House approved a number of Senate amendments to the bill. 
 
The government was hoping the Senate would quickly give the bill Royal Assent making it law, but now the NDP wants the Senate to make further amendments to political financing provisions in the bill. 

NDP MP Pat Martin, who had recently criticized the Senate for making over 150 amendments to the bill and delaying its passage, said at a news conference on Friday he wants the Senate to close a loophole that several contenders in the Liberal leadership race have been using in their campaigns. 

While there is currently a $5,000 cap on donations to candidates -- the accountability act  will lower that to $1,000 -- many Liberals are getting around this by accepting large loans from wealthy individuals to finance their campaigns. 

"The elections act should be amended so that no individual can make a contribution by means of a loan unless the loan is made through a bank, a credit union or a financial institution," Martin said. "Secondly, no one should be able to co-sign or underwrite such a loan to an extent greater than the financial contribution limits."

Martin said allowing candidates to accept such large loans allows big money to continue to influence political campaigns. 

Goodale, Stoffer multiple winners in first ever MP poll 

Who's the best MP in Ottawa?  

A scientific survey of other MPs has found out is none other than Liberal MP Ralph Goodale.
 
Goodale was the big winner in the first ever Ipsos-Reid survey of other MPs conducted for Maclean's magazine, L'actualité and the Dominion Institute.

The veteran Saskatchewan MP said after question period Friday that it was quite an honour to be the first winner.  
 
"The two things that I find appealing about this particular assessment is first of all, independent agencies felt strongly enough about parliament as an institution and about the people who work here to conduct an independent assessment," he said. "And it is a nice thing when your peers in the House of Commons, not only those that are in the Liberal Party, but the adversary on the other side of the floor think well enough of you to actually vote in that way. 

"So it is a nice thing. I appreciate it. I won’t overestimate it because I know in this place the ground can shift in a moment and you have got to keep earning the respect day after day after day."

Goodale is not only respected among his colleagues, but Parliament Hill reporters often refer to Goodale as a "pro" especially in his current role as the Liberal House leader, where knowledge about a diverse range of issues and Parliamentary procedure is mandatory. 

Goodale not only took home Best MP, but also won Best Orator and was tied for first with Stephen Harper and NDP MP Bill Blaikie for Most Knowledgeable.

NDP MP Peter Stoffer was also a multiple winner for Best Constituent Representative and Most Collegial.

And Liberal MP Paul Szabo can now be called the James Brown of Canadian politics after winning Hardest Working MP honours. 

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 and Wednesday

The government plans to deal with the following items

> Debate on Prime Minister Stephen Harper's motion respecting Quebec as a nation in a united Canada.
> Bill C-24 softwood lumber bill (report stage and third reading)
> Bill S-5 Senate bill regarding taxation protocols

Tuesday 

Opposition Day

____________________

Committee Highlights

Monday, November 27

> Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart appears before the access to information, privacy and ethics committee  

> The environment committee continues its study of the Canadian Environmental Protection Act

Tuesday, November 28

> Former deputy PM Anne McLellan appears before the public security committee's investigation of the Maher Arar affair

> Indian Affairs Minister Jim Prentice and Fisheries Minister Loyola Hearn each appear before their respective committees.   

> 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: House returns amended bill to Senate November 21

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: Passed in the House June 22

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: Passed by Senate November 3

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: Referred to justice committee June 13

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

Status: Referred to the Transport committee September 21

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

Status: Returned from the public security committee with amendments November 22

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: Passed in the House November 17

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: Passed in the House November 1

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:
Report stage November 22

This is the implementation legislation for the softwood lumber deal with the U.S. This bill is considered a matter of confidence for the minority government. 

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:
Passed in the House November 10

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

Status:
Referred to the industry committee November 6

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

Status:
Special legislative committee struck November 9, Liberal MP Bernard Patry named chair of special committee on November 10

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:
Referred to the finance committee October 30


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:
Introduced October 19

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:
Referred to the procedure and house affairs committee November 8

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:
Introduced November 21

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:
Introduced November 22


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

Status:
Introduced November 22


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

Status:
Introduced November 23

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

: Related Links

> Check out last week's legislative update

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