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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

"Gomery" Parliament set to end 
on Monday     

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:00 p.m. November 25, 2005]

 

OTTAWA — Time is running out on the 38th session of Parliament or as commentator Rex Murphy described it earlier this year, The Gomery Parliament. 

MPs are set to vote on a motion of non-confidence Monday evening at 6:30 p.m. ET. 

All three opposition leader parties are onside and have the votes to defeat the Liberal government. 

For the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois it won't be a moment too soon. 

The session was a case study in procedural warfare as the Liberals clung to life for months.

The two parties pushed in the spring to defeat the government, only to have the NDP side with the Liberals after a budget deal. Then Government House Leader Tony Valeri pushed back opposition days close to the summer recess. The Conservatives used a procedural move to get a non-binding non-confidence vote passed in the House, but the government ignored it and brought forward a non-confidence motion nine days later, time enough to have Belinda Stronach to defect to their ranks. 

In the fall, the Liberals again moved the opposition days back. NDP leader Jack Layton tried to make another deal with the Liberals on health care but was rebuked prompting him to lose confidence in the government. 

After seven months of trying to bring down the government, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe will finally get their chance on Monday. And they will succeed. 

It may be too early to tell what this session will be remembered for, but 30 years from now there is no doubt Bill C-38, the government's gay marriage legislation will be one of the milestones. 

The session also ends with two fewer MPs than it began. Liberal MP Lawrence O'Brien passed away in December of last year. And Independent MP Chuck Cadman lost his battle with cancer weeks after his vote helped keep the Liberals from defeat on a confidence vote. 

Time to Say So Long

It will also be the final day in Parliament for at least 24 MPs who will not be seeking election. 

NDP MP Ed Broadbent and Liberal MP David Anderson were both elected to the House in 1968. Anderson left in the 1970s only to return to be a cabinet minister in 1993. Broadbent was in caucus when Tommy Douglas was leader and went on to one of the most acclaimed political careers in Canada, leading the NDP through five federal elections. He stepped down as leader on the last day of 1989. He made a comeback in the last election and has been the voice of sanity and the ethical compass in this minority Parliament. Broadbent is not running again and will spend more time with his wife. 

Conservative MP John Reynolds was first elected in 1972 and re-elected in 1974. Reynolds returned in 2000 and was briefly acting leader of the Canadian Alliance Party. Reynolds is one of the Conservatives' best spinners and is not afraid of telling it the way he sees it to press gallery reporters. 

Maverick MP David Kilgour leaves after 25 years in Parliament. First elected as a Conservative in 1980, Kilgour defected to the Liberals after opposing the Mulroney government on the GST. Kilgour and Anne McLellan helped keep the Liberals alive in Alberta through the 1990s, up until this spring when Kilgour had enough with the scandal-plagued Liberal government and sat as an independent.

Former Government House Leader and Ratpacker Don Boudria was first elected in 1984 in an election where the Liberals lost a lot of seats. After 21 years on the Hill as an MP he will be departing. 

Two Liberal MPs who rode in on John Turner's anti-free trade wave of 1988 will also sit for the final day on Monday -- Marlene Catterall and Beth Phinney.

Five Liberal MPs who came to Ottawa when the Liberals ousted the Conservatives in 1993 are also retiring. The most prominent being Carolyn Parrish and Pat O'Brien, who spent their final year as independents after having disagreements with Martin. Peter Adams, Paul DeVillers, Rose-Marie Ur and Jerry Pickard are also not seeking re-election.

1993 also saw a large crop of Reform MPs elected to Ottawa for the first time. Seven of those original Reformers who came to Ottawa with Preston Manning are packing it in -- Dave Chatters, Jim Gouk, Dale Johnston, Charlie Penson, Werner Schmidt, Darrel Stinson and Randy White.

This week cabinet ministers John Efford and Claudette Bradshaw announced they were not seeking re-election. And Marcel Gagnon of the Bloc will not be seeking re-election either. 

History in the Making

During the duration of the minority Parliament you often heard the phrase, "Let's make Parliament work."

Well, if you look back at history this minority Parliaments this one will go down as one of the most successful ones in terms of longevity. 

Of the 11 minority Parliaments elected in the history of Canada, Paul Martin's minority government will be the third longest one, lasting one year, six months and 12 days, if Canadians go to the polls on January 9.

Here's are the top 5 minority Parliaments by longevity.

1. Lester B. Pearson, April 12, 1963 to November 8, 1965
2. Lester B. Pearson, November 8, 1965 to April 20, 1968
3. Paul Martin, June 28, 2004 to (January 9 2006?)
4. Pierre Trudeau, October 30, 1972 to May 8, 1974
5. John Diefenbaker, June 21, 1957 to March 31, 1958 

A Primer on the Non-Confidence Vote

Opposition Days


Opposition days -- also known as Supply Days -- are critical to this plan. The government is obliged to give the opposition parties seven opposition days before the fall sitting of Parliament is scheduled to end on December 16. 

These days are set aside for opposition parties to table and debate any motion they want, including binding non-confidence motions in the government. 

On Thursday Conservative Leader Stephen Harper tabled a non-confidence motion using his opposition day. 

Liberal whip Karen Redman had the vote on the motion deferred 24 hours, pushing it ahead to Monday, November 28 at 6:30 p.m. 

Rumours of Prorogation 

Prorogation is the self-destruct button in this game. 

The PM, with the support of cabinet, could essentially decide to shut down the House and the Senate for as long as a year if he so chooses. 

Such a move by Martin would block the opposition parties from defeating his government this month, but it would also kill all the important government legislation the PM has argued needs to be passed. 

The PM proroguing the House could also make him look weak politically. 

As the date for the non-confidence vote approaches, however, the rumours of prorogation have died. It appears the Liberals are committed to going to the polls.


Why are the opposition leaders pushing for an election?

While each of the parties has its own motivations, what is clear is that all three do not believe the government should be able to set the timetable for the election campaign. The opposition parties believe the prime minister's timetable for an election is only lengthening the pre-writ period of the election where the government has a tremendous advantage over the opposition parties. Layton said he feared the PM and other cabinet ministers essentially could be campaigning in government jets for weeks by traveling the country making funding announcements and future funding announcements. In the final week before the vote, the Liberals made billions in pre-election spending promises and commitments.

Is the non-confidence motion binding?

Yes.

Will there be a Christmas election?

Yes and no. The campaign will run through the Christmas holidays, but the vote won't be on Christmas Day.

Under federal election laws, the election campaign must be 36 days long and come on the first Monday after 36 days have elapsed. If that Monday is a holiday, then the vote is on a Tuesday. 

Under the timetable where the opposition parties kill the government on November 28, the election would be on Monday, January 9 at the earliest.

However, it doesn't have to be that way. The campaign has to be a minimum of 36 days, but that doesn't mean it can't be longer. The prime minister has the ability to set the election campaign much longer if he so chooses.  There is talk about pushing the date back to January 16 or January 23.

Key Bills that Will Die When the House is Defeated

The House leaders from all parties are in negotiations to fast track three bills and give priority to a fourth. They are as follows:

Bill C-11
-- An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act. This is the government's whistleblower bill and whistleblowers across the country will not shed a tear as they have been critical of many elements of it. . 

Bill C-17: "An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts "  Better known as the marijuana decriminalization bill, this piece of legislation has been in committee for months and won't make it out. 

Bill C-65 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act. This bill was inspired by a private members bill from the late MP Chuck Cadman and won't be passed. 

Bill C-67  An Act respecting the allocation of unanticipated surpluses and to amend the Income Tax Act. This bill aimed at  providing a legal framework for how the government spends its surpluses not make it out of the House.

______________

Before the government is defeated, the following bills are scheduled to be dealt with. 

> Bill C-37, the do-not-call bill (report stage)
> Bill S-36, respecting rough diamonds (third reading)
> Bill C-63, respecting the Canada Elections Act (third reading)
> Bill C-44, the Transport legislation (second reading)
> Bill C-76, the citizenship/adoption bill (second reading)
> Bill C-75, the public health agency legislation (second reading)

Committee Highlights

Monday

The Government Operations committee is examining the testimony of former cabinet minister David Dingwall who denied he received a "success fee" from a company he was lobbying for in 2000. Bioniche was recently asked to repay money to the Technology Partnerships Canada's loan program because it paid a contingency fee, which violates program rules. Graeme McRae, president and CEO of Bioniche, Duff Conacher of Democracy Watch and Dingwall himself are scheduled to appear on what is expected to be the final day of this Parliament.

Bills the Liberals have tabled this session. 

Bill C-2: "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (protection of children and other vulnerable persons) and the Canada Evidence Act".

This bill is aimed at cracking down on child pornography with "stiffer penalties and other important measures," according to Valeri. "This Bill has been changed significantly from the last Session, to address concerns raised by Parliamentarians," he said. During the federal election campaign, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper blasted the Liberal government for not getting the bill through Parliament. Harper made the comments after his war room had to retract a news release entitled "Paul Martin Supports Child Pornography."

Status: Royal Assent July 20, 2005

Bill C-3: "An Act to amend the Canada Shipping Act, the Canada Shipping Act, 2001, the Canada National Marine Conservation Areas Act and the Oceans Act".

Status: Royal Assent June 23, 2005

A Bill aimed at modernizing administrative structures of the Canadian Coast Guard.

Bill C-4: "An Act to implement the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment and the Protocol to the Convention on International Interests in Mobile Equipment on Matters Specific to Aircraft Equipment".

Status: Royal Assent February 24, 2005

This bill will facilitate major capital transactions in the aviation industry. 

Bill C-5 "An Act to provide financial assistance for post-secondary education savings".

Status:
Royal Assent December 15, 2004

This bill created the Canada Learning Bond and the Canada Education Savings Grant, which will help lower-income families save for their children's education.

Bill C-6: "An Act to establish the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and to amend or repeal certain Acts".

Status:
Royal Assent March 23, 2005

This legislation will finalize the integration into a single portfolio of the core activities of the Solicitor General portfolio along with other activities required to protect against and respond to natural disasters and security emergencies.

Bill C-7: "An Act to amend the Department of Canadian Heritage Act and the Parks Canada Agency Act and to make related amendments to other Acts".

Status: Royal Assent February 24, 2005

This legislation will move the Parks Canada Agency from Heritage Canada to the Environment portfolio.

Bill C-8: "An Act to amend the Financial Administration Act, the Canada School of Public Service Act and the Official Languages Act".

Status: Royal Assent April 21, 2005

This bill will establish the Public Service Human Resources Management Agency to modernize the management of human resources in the Public Service.

Bill C-9 "An Act to establish the Economic Development Agency of Canada for the Regions of Quebec".

Status: Royal Assent June 23, 2005

This bill will establish that agency, and put it on the same footing as the other regional development agencies, such as ACOA and WED.

Bill C-10: "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts".

Status: Royal Assent May 19, 2005

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler introduced amendments concerning prosecutions of persons found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible due to mental disorders.

Bill C-11:  "An Act to establish a procedure for the disclosure of wrongdoings in the public sector, including the protection of persons who disclose the wrongdoings".

Status: Passed in the House October 4, 2005

This bill was amended by opposition parties to create an independent officer of Parliament to handle complaints about government wrongdoing by whistleblowers.

Bill C-12: "An Act to prevent the introduction and spread of communicable diseases".

Status: Royal Assent May 12, 2005

This is new quarantine legislation to protect Canadians from the spread of serious health threats, such as SARS.

Bill C-13 "An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the DNA Identification Act and the National Defence Act"

Status: Royal Assent May 19, 2005

Bill C-14 "An Act to give effect to a land claims and self-government agreement among the Tlicho, the Government of the Northwest Territories and the Government of Canada, to make related amendments to the Mackenzie Valley Resource Management Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts"

Status:
Royal Assent February 15, 2005

Bill C-15 "An Act to amend the Migratory Birds Convention Act, 1994 and the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999" 

Status: Royal Assent May 19, 2005

Bill C-16 "An Act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts " 

Status: Returned amended from Justice committee November 14, 2005

Bill C-17 "An Act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts " 

Status: Referred to Justice committee November 2, 2004

This is the government's much talked about marijuana bill which decriminalizes possession of small amounts.

Bill C-18 "An Act to amend the Telefilm Canada Act and another Act  " 

Status: Royal Assent March 23, 2005

Bill C-19 "An Act to amend the Competition Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts" 

Status: Sent to the Industry committee November 16, 2004.

Bill C-20 "An Act to provide for real property taxation powers of first nations, to create a First Nations Tax Commission, First Nations Financial Management Board, First Nations Finance Authority and First Nations Statistical Institute and to make consequential amendments to other Acts" 

Status: Royal Assent March 23, 2005

Bill C-21 "An Act respecting not-for-profit corporations and other corporations without share capital" 

Status: Sent to Industry committee November 23, 2004.

Bill C-22 "An Act to establish the Department of Social Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts" 

Status: Royal Assent July 20, 2005

Bill C-23 "An Act to establish the Department of Human Resources and Skills Development and to amend and repeal certain related Acts" 

Status: Royal Assent July 20, 2005 

Bill C-24 "An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts (fiscal equalization payments to the provinces and funding to the territories) " 

Status: Royal Ascent March 10, 2005

Bill C-25 "An Act governing the operation of remote sensing space systems " 

Status: Passed in the House October 5, 2005

Bill C-26 "An Act to establish the Canada Border Services Agency " 

Status: Royal Assent November 3, 2005

Bill C-27 "An Act to regulate and prohibit certain activities related to food and other products to which the Acts under the administration of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency apply and to provide for the administration and enforcement of those Acts and to amend other Acts in consequence " 

Status: Returned from Agriculture committee June 22, 2005

Bill C-28 "An Act to amend the Food and Drugs Act " 

Status: Written Declaration November 24, 2005

Bill C-29 "An Act to amend the Patent Act " 

Status: Royal Assent May 5, 2005

Bill C-30 "An Act to amend the Parliament of Canada Act and the Salaries Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts " 

Status: Royal Assent  April 21, 2005

Bill C-31 "An Act to establish the Department of International Trade and to make related amendments to certain Acts " 

Status: Defeated at second reading February 15, 2005

This bill creates a separate department for International Trade.

Bill C-32 "An Act to amend the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts " 

Status: Defeated at second reading February 15, 2005

Bill C-33 "A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 23, 2004" 

Status: Royal Assent May 13, 2005

Bill C-34 "An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005" 

Status: Royal Assent December 15, 2004

Main estimates

Bill C-35 "An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005" 

Status: Royal Assent December 15, 2004

Supplementary estimates

C-36 An Act to change the boundaries of the Acadie-Bathurst and Miramichi electoral districts

Status: Royal Assent, February 24, 2005

This bill changes the boundaries of the Acadie-Bathurst and Miramichi electoral districts.

C-37 An Act to amend the Telecommunication Act

Status: Passed in Senate with amendments November 24, 2005

This bill permits the CRTC to administer databases to prohibit or regulate the use by any person of the telecommunications facilities of a Canadian carrier for the provision of unsolicited telecommunications.

C-38 An Act respecting certain aspects of legal capacity for marriage for civil purposes 

Status:
Received Royal Assent July 20, 2005

This is the federal government's much debated same-sex marriage legislation, which Justice Minister Irwin Cotler hopes to pass by June.

C-39 The Minister of Finance -- An Act to amend the Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act and to enact An Act respecting the provision of funding for diagnostic and medical equipment 

Status:
Royal Assent March 23, 2005

C-40 An Act to amend the Canada Grain Act and the Canada Transportation Act  

Status:
Royal Assent May 19, 2005

C-41 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2005 


Status:
Royal Assent March 23, 2005

C-42 An Act for granting to Her Majesty certain sums of money for the public service of Canada for the financial year ending March 31, 2006 

Status:
Royal Assent March 23, 2005

C-43 An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on February 23, 2005 

Status:
Royal Assent June 23, 2005

This is the government's budget implementation bill, which the Conservatives are threatening to vote against because it contains a provision allowing the government to regulate greenhouse gas emissions to meet its Kyoto targets.

C-44 An Act to amend the Canada Transportation Act and the Railway Safety Act, to enact the VIA Rail Canada Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Introduced March 24, 2005

C-45 An Act to provide services, assistance and compensation to or in respect of Canadian Forces members and veterans and to make amendments to certain Acts  

Status:
Royal Assent May 13, 2005

C-46 An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Criminal Code 

Status:
Introduced April 20, 2005

C-47 An Act to amend the Air Canada Public Participation Act 

Status:
Referred to Transport committee November 3, 2005

C-48 An Act to authorize the Minister of Finance to make certain payments

Status:
Received Royal Assent July 20, 2005

This is the companion legislation to the budget implementation bill, which includes the $4.5 billion in new spending reached in an agreement between the NDP and the Liberals. 

C-49 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons) 

Status:
Third reading October 17, 2005

C-50 An Act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals 

Status:
Motion to move bill to Justice committee before second reading debated November 21, 2005

C-51 An Act to amend the Judges Act, the Federal Courts Act and other Acts 

Status:
Introduced May 20, 2005

C-52 An Act to amend the Fisheries Act (terms and conditions of permissions, leases and licences) 

Status:
Second reading June 13, 2005

C-53 An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (proceeds of crime) and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act and to make consequential amendments to another Act  

Status:
Passed in the House November 21, 2005

C-54 An Act to provide first nations with the option of managing and regulating oil and gas exploration and exploitation and of receiving moneys otherwise held for them by Canada 

Status:
Passed in the House November 21, 2005

C-55 An Act to establish the Wage Earner Protection Program Act, to amend the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act and the Companies' Creditors Arrangement Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts

Status:
Passed in the House November 21, 2005

C-56 An Act to give effect to the Labrador Inuit Land Claims Agreement and the Labrador Inuit Tax Treatment Agreement 

Status:
Royal Assent June 23, 2005

C-57 An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to financial institutions 

Status:
Passed in the House November 23, 2005

C-58 Main estimates 

Status:
Royal Assent June 23, 2005

C-59 An Act to amend the Investment Canada Act 

Status:
Introduced June 20, 2005

C-60 An Act to amend the Copyright Act  

Status:
Introduced June 20, 2005

C-61 An Act to amend the Canada Marine Act and other Acts 

Status:
Introduced June 22, 2005

C-62 An Act to amend the Aeronautics Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts 

Status:
Introduced September 28, 2005

C-63 An Act to amend An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act and the Income Tax Act 

Status:
Referred to procedure and House affairs committee October 18, 2005

C-64 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (vehicle identification number) 

Status:
Referred to the Justice Committee October 25, 2005

C-65 An Act to amend the Criminal Code (street racing) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act 
 
Status:
Referred to the Justice Committee October 25, 2005

This bill was inspired by a private members bill from the late MP Chuck Cadman. 

C-66  An Act to authorize payments to provide assistance in relation to energy costs, housing energy consumption and public transit infrastructure, and to make consequential amendments to certain Acts 
 
Status:
Passed in the House November 23, 2005

This is the government's $2.4 billion plan to address higher energy costs, which includes $250 rebates to low-income seniors and families, financial incentives for energy efficiency and more powers to the competition bureau to deter price gouging by oil and gas companies. The bill has the luke warm support of the opposition parties, but the NDP could hold it up in committee to improve it help low-income Canadians who do not qualify under the current proposal. 

C-67  An Act respecting the allocation of unanticipated surpluses and to amend the Income Tax Act  
 
Status:
Second reading October 27, 2005

This bill will provide a legal framework for how the government spends its surpluses. 

C-68  An Act to support development of Canada's Pacific Gateway 
 
Status:
Second reading November 16, 2005

C-69  An Act to amend the Agricultural Marketing Programs Act 
 
Status:
Introduced October 27, 2005

C-70  An Act to amend the Criminal Code (conditional sentence of imprisonment) 
 
Status:
Introduced October 27, 2005

C-71  An Act respecting the regulation of commercial and industrial undertakings on reserve lands  
 
Status:
Passed in the House November 21, 2005

C-72  An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
 
Status:
Referred to Justice committee November 21, 2005

C-73  An Act to amend the Telecommunications Act
 
Status:
Introduced November 14, 2005

C-74  An Act regulating telecommunications facilities to facilitate the lawful interception of information transmitted by means of those facilities and respecting the provision of telecommunications subscriber information 
 
Status:
Introduced November 15, 2005

C-75  An Act respecting the establishment of the Public Health Agency of Canada and amending certain Acts 
 
Status:
Introduced November 16, 2005

C-76  An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (adoption) 
 
Status:
Introduced November 17, 2005

C-77  An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (prohibitions) 

Status:
Introduced November 17, 2005

C-78  An Act to provide for emergency management and to amend and repeal certain Acts 

Status:
Introduced November 17, 2005

C-79  An Act to amend the Canada Elections Act (third party election advertising) 

Status:
Introduced November 23, 2005

C-80  An Act to implement certain income tax reductions Ways and Means motion No. 10 

Status:
Adopted November 23, 2005

C-81  An Act to establish the National Security Committee of Parliamentarians 

Status:
Introduced November 24, 2005

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