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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Confidence vote could come when 
MPs return     

[PoliticsWatch Updated 6:45 p.m. November 4, 2005]

 

OTTAWA — MPs will have next week off, but when they return the opposition parties will have their first chance to vote non-confidence in the minority government.

The first opposition days will be held next week after  Government House Leader Tony Valeri gerrymandered them earlier in the fall to avoid a fall election.  

On Tuesday November 15, the Conservatives will have their first opposition day and could put forward a vote of non-confidence in the government.  

To paraphrase Dickens, the opportunity couldn't come at a better and it couldn't come at a worse time for the Conservatives and the Bloc.

The first major poll after the release of Justice John Gomery's report on the sponsorship scandal came out on Thursday evening. Gomery found that officials in the Liberal party engaged what he called a kickback scheme that funneled government money from the sponsorship program into the Liberal coffers. 

Gomery pinned the blame on a few organizers and former prime minister Jean Chretien and his chief of staff, Jean Pelletier. But he said there was no evidence that Chretien and his chief of staff were aware of the kickback scheme. 

He also exonerated Prime Minister Paul Martin and all other current Quebec cabinet ministers of having knowledge of the scandal while it was going on. Martin has banned 10 people fingered in Gomery's report from the Liberal party and has agreed to pay over a million dollars back to the government from the Liberal party's funds. 

All of this was predictable and there was little in the form of new revelations from Gomery.

Nonetheless, Gomery's judicial stamp of approval for the opposition parties' allegations of Liberal corruption and a cycle of negative headlines has prompted the first major polling to show Liberal support sliding quicker than Enron stock. 

The Conservatives are now neck and neck with the Liberals nationally and the Bloc has lapped the Liberals in Quebec, according to a poll for CanWest News.

Gomery has delivered an early Christmas gift for the Conservatives and the Bloc, but Christmas and the Grinch Who Stole the Spring Election, Jack Layton, appear to be their two major hurdles to taking advantage of a wounded Liberal party at the polls. 

Whether they want to believe it or not, the opposition parties should know that this slide in Liberal support will be only temporary. 

The Liberals took a major hit in the polls days after Auditor General Sheila Fraser released her sponsorship program report and after Groupaction President Jean Brault told his tale of kickbacks, envelopes of cash and fake employees who were actually Liberal campaigners on his payroll. 

But within weeks of both these revelations, the Liberals slowly rose again the polls. 

Martin's Quebec Lieutenant Jean Lapierre put it best when he was asked about the latest poll by reporters on Friday. 

"We were going to take a hit. We took a hit. But I don't think it's going to last," he said confidently while clutching his copy of Gomery's report the way a deeply religious man leaving church holds his bible. 

Nonetheless, the new poll numbers appeared to have changed the tune of the Bloc and the Conservatives, who unofficially set this week as the last opportunity to bring down the government this year.  

Because of the government-imposed opposition day schedule, if the government is defeated in the House on the week of the November 14, then the election date would be the day after Boxing Day. 

Both Conservative Leader Stephen Harper and Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe said they did not want to have a Christmas election. 

However, Duceppe seems unwilling to rule out defeating the government later this month or in early December, which would see an election campaign that went through the Christmas holidays but was held in January.

"We're always looking at every possibility that's part of our work," he told reporters Friday. "We have to look at that very carefully. I would hope it would be possible. I would like to have an election."

"Whose to say we won't?" Deputy Conservative Leader Peter MacKay asked when he was questioned about a confidence vote between now and the end of the session.

"Can there be an election over Christmas? Yes, by all means. Will it happen without the NDP? Not a chance. They have to decide firmly whether they're going to prop the government up and hypocritically criticize them and castigate them for corruption or whether they're going to say enough is enough and the ends doesn't justify the means."

Layton is frustrating the other opposition parties and a lot of the reporters in the press gallery with his Kabuki dance with the Liberals. 

There appears to be two Jack Laytons. 

There's the one in question period who shakes his fists with rage about the Liberal culture of entitlement, Liberal lobbyists and the findings of Gomery. 

And the other who sends his health critic to meet with the health minister of the "corrupt" government controlled by big corporate lobbyists looking for more tax cuts for the rich. 

As much as he criticizes the government, Layton is quickly becoming the Liberals secret weapon. As they sit in Gomery's penalty box and Layton skates on the ice and effectively kills the penalty for them by running down the clock with a negotiation on health care that he admits the Liberals don't appear to be taking all that seriously.  

As Lapierre comments illustrated, the Liberals have every confidence their polling numbers will soon rise again and all they need is precious time, which Layton's deadlines of "days" which quickly become "weeks" appear to  provide in spades.  

The House is currently embroiled in a debate on Adscam after a point of privilege by MP Denis Coderre regarding a Bloc Quebecois householder that he says is slanderous. When that debate concludes, the government plans to deal with the following bills when MPs return November 14. 

> Bill C-54, the first nations resources bill (third reading)
> Bill C-50, cruelty to animals bill (second reading)
> Bill S-36, diamonds bill (second reading)
> Bill C-44, the transport legislation (second reading)
> Bill C-68, the Pacific Gateway bill (second reading)
> Bill C-66, the energy bill (second reading)
> Bill C-67, the surplus legislation (second reading)
> Bill C-61, the marine bill (second reading)


There will also be a take note debate on Tuesday November 15 on the Canadian mission in Afghanistan.

Committee Highlights

Tuesday

Industry Minister David Emerson will appear before the industry committee and could face questions from the NDP and Conservatives about the recently cancelled Technology Partnerships Canada program. 

Wednesday

Deputy House Leader Mauril Belanger appears before the procedure and House affairs committee to discuss changes to the Elections Act. 


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: Referred to Justice committee November 2, 2004

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: Passed in the House October  October 18, 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 the House October 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:
Introduced May 16, 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:
Referred to Justice committee September 28, 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:
Third Reading November 3, 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:
Referred to the Industry committee October 5, 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:
Referred to Finance committee October 6, 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:
Second reading November 1, 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 2, 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:
Introduced November 2, 2005

C-72  An Act to amend certain Acts in relation to DNA Identification
 
Status:
Introduced November 2, 2005

: Related Links

> Read last week's legislative update

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