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:: PoliticsWatch Legislative Update

Gomery unlikely to bring down 
the House     

[PoliticsWatch Updated 4:30 p.m. October 28, 2005]

 

OTTAWA — Picture this.

On Tuesday, Justice John Gomery issues a scathing report on the sponsorship scandal, saying it was used to launder government money through ad firms to the Liberal party, friends of the party and top organizers. 

Gomery makes it clear that much of the wrongdoing was not the work of rogue bureaucrats but was mastermind by cabinet ministers and senior political staff.  

Although all of the shocking details are public knowledge, Gomery's summation and linking of testimony and retracing the money trail produces a political firestorm similar to what was seen after Auditor General Sheila Fraser tabled her report on the sponsorship program in February 2004 complete with flow charts and devastating language.

On Wednesday morning, as large type size, sensational headlines appear on the front pages of newspapers across the country, Conservative Leader Stephen Harper, Bloc Quebecois Leader Gilles Duceppe and NDP Leader Jack Layton hold a surprise joint news conference at the National Press Theatre like they did days before the minority Parliament began sitting in September of last year. 

The three leaders present a united front and say the findings of Gomery means the Liberal party no longer has the moral authority to govern. 

They then demand an immediate confidence vote in the House of Commons to secure an election before Christmas. And they refuse to attend Parliament until one is held, creating another government crisis of confidence. 

Sound plausible?

The idea, which is known by some on the Hill as "The Weston Theory," has been floating around Ottawa all week after Sun News columnist Greg Weston reported in his column last weekend that "Liberal insiders" say the Liberal war room is "on high alert" over this possible sequence of events occurring. 

However, while a possibility the probability of this happening is about as likely as the Columbus Blue Jackets dancing in celebration as they hoist Lord Stanley's champagne-filled Cup over their heads in June.

Time and the cooperation of Layton with the other two leaders on the issue of defeating the government appear to be the two main factors working against this theory.

Essentially, even if the opposition leaders pulled a Pearl Harbour and walked into the National Press Theatre hand-in-hand on Wednesday, they would only have two days for their shutdown of Parliament to work. 

The House is on break for a week after that. Then the following week the opposition parties get to have their first opposition days and can put forward their own confidence motion to defeat the government in time for a December 27 election if they so choose.

Plus the Liberals already have mastered the spin on parties who shut down Parliament for a few days. 

It goes like this -- "Get back to work!"

One Conservative source told PoliticsWatch that during the spring shutdown of Parliament by the Bloc and the Tories, Conservative MPs pressured Harper to end the shutdown of Parliament because of angry phone calls from constituents who had bought the Liberals' "you're not showing up for your job" line hook, line and sinker. 

Harper ended his shutdown of the House and decided to follow Prime Minister Paul Martin's timetable for a confidence vote just in time to allow Conservative MP Belinda Stronach to cross over to the Liberals. One would wonder how Stronach's defection would have looked had it occurred while the House had been adjourned by the opposition parties for five sitting days in a row.

But how serious Layton is about defeating the government and having a fall election seems to be the main problem. 

"Jack Layton has a problem his NDP predecessors had no more luck solving," wrote Toronto Star columnist Jim Travers this week.

"Layton, the look-at-me leader of a party no one is looking at, needs to bring down soon a Liberal government he also desperately needs to make work for as long as possible."

That problem was evident this week as Layton walked out of meeting with the prime minister on how to curb the growth health-care privatization empty handed with Martin refusing to even acknowledge Layton's claims that there is a problem. 

Layton said the PM has "days" to come forward with some sort of plan to his liking or lose the support of the NDP in the House. 

But when pressed about whether he would team up with the opposition parties to take down the government in the days after Gomery's report, Layton refuses to provide a clear answer. 

"It's been pointed out time and time again that as long as Jack Layton is prepared to hypocritically criticize the government on a whole range of issues including corruption and then simultaneously support them and hug the prime minister and keep him in office nothing is going to happen," Conservative MP Peter MacKay said this week. 

Harper is even more frank.

"I don't take it seriously at the moment," Harper said this week. 

"I checked with my caucus. Neither Mr. Layton or anyone in the NDP has sent us any serious signals or made many contact to the effect that they want to withdraw their support in the government.

"I think Mr. Layton, for all intents and purposes, is continuing to support the government. I think we have a lovers' quarrel here. But it's nothing more than that."

If The Weston Theory is True then it is probably the best kept secret in Ottawa since Martin pulled Stronach out of his hat in the spring. 

Harper and MacKay are either telling the truth about the Tories having no contact with Layton or they are damn good at acting clueless. But anyone who saw the Conservatives' recent TV ads featuring Harper and MacKay are painfully aware their acting abilities are closer to the actor who plays the Canadian Tire Guy's easily impressed next door neighbour than to Olivier. 

Election speculation and Gomery fallout will dominate discussion in the foyer of the House of Commons next week. But inside the chamber the day-to-day task of legislating goes on. 

The government plans to deal with the following bills next week. 

> Bill S-38, the spirits trade bill (report stage)
> Bill C-47, the Air Canada bill (second reading)
> Bill C-50, cruelty to animals bill
> Bill C-44, the transport legislation (second reading)
> Bill C-61, the marine bill (second reading)
> Bill C-46, the correctional services bill, 
> Bill C-54, the first nations resources bill

The government also plans to have take-note debate on Internet pharmacies on Tuesday evening. 

Committee Highlights

Monday

Revenue Minister John McCallum will appear before the government operations committee to discuss issues surrounding the former CEO's of Canada Post and the Royal Canadian Mint.. 

Tuesday

Immigration Minister Joe Volpe appears before the citizenship and immigration committee to discuss his department's estimates. 

Thursday

Ethics Commissioner Bernard Shapiro appears before the access to information, privacy and ethics committee. 

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: Passed in the House June 13, 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:
Introduced May 2, 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:
Returned from the Aboriginal Affairs committee without amendment October 26, 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 October 26, 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:
Introduced October 20, 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

: Related Links

> Read last week's legislative update

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