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House business a mysteryPolitics Watch News Services
October 25, 2007, updated 4:55 p.m.


OTTAWA — The Canadian government's legislative plans for next week are a mystery after the Liberals took the unusual step of boycotting the traditional Thursday question on government business.

The question happens after question period on Thursdays when the Official Opposition House leader asks the Government House leader to inform MPs about the business of the House over the coming week. 

Liberal House leader Ralph Goodale was in the House Thursday but did not rise after question period to pose the question. 

"The response to the Thursday question is supposed to convey a substantive answer with regards to the government's agenda," Goodale's office told PoliticsWatch in an email. " We only get Conservative spin, and nothing serious. Therefore, we decided not to ask the question." 

After question period, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan would not specify which bills the government would be dealing with next week, saying he was not going to make up for the Liberals' failure to perform their House duties. 

There are currently only two bills before the House. 

Unless the government introduces new bills, it will likely deal with Bill C-2, The Tackling Violent Crime Act. 

The bill is an omnibus bill made up primarily of criminal justice bills left over from the last session of Parliament. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has designated the legislation a confidence matter and has urged the opposition parties to ensure its swift passage in the House.  

This week, the government introduced two new bills, both related to terrorism.  

Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day introduced legislation in the House to preserve security certificates. The controversial measures that allow the government to detain or deport non-citizens who are suspected of having ties to terror groups were struck down by the Supreme Court earlier this year. 

The new bill creates "special advocates" for suspects, who currently can not see the evidence being used to detain them. The bill is expected to pass in the Commons as it has the support of the opposition Liberals. 

Also, Justice Minister Rob Nicholson announced  the federal government had introduced legislation in the Senate to reinstate two extraordinary investigative powers given to police after 9/11. 

Parliament allowed the two special powers, known as investigative hearings and preventive arrest, to lapse earlier this year. The NDP already has said it will vote against the bill, while the Liberals have not made a final decision. 


The work of committees is set to begin next week as most of the Commons committees will hold meetings to elect a chair and vice chairs. 

Already, the Commons procedure and House affairs committee met to elect a chair. The committee will be closely watched in this session because it intends to conduct its own investigation of the Conservative election advertising spending controversy. An opposition MP told PoliticsWatch witnesses may appear before the committee as early as next week. 

The Legislative Update is posted every Thursday 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. noon and 5:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday and the Daily Agenda updated at 6:00 p.m. ET Monday to Friday.

The formal legislative agenda of the House was not announced this week because the Official Opposition did not ask the government the regular Thursday question on Government business. 


Committee Highlights

No meetings scheduled.

> Full Schedule


Bills the Conservative government  tabled in this session of Parliament 

C-2 The Minister of Justice An Act to amend the Criminal Code and to make consequential amendments to other Acts C-2 

Status: Introduced and read the first time October 18, 2007 

This is the government's omnibus crime bill which Justice Minister Rob Nicholson has declared a matter of confidence. 

C-3R The Minister of Public Safety An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (certificate and special advocate) and to make a consequential amendment to another Act 

Status: Introduced and read the first time October 22, 2007 

: Related Links

> Check out last week's legislative update

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