Parliament resumes: 6 major bills the Trudeau government will likely table
Published Saturday, January 23, 2016 6:18PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, January 24, 2016 1:11PM EST
As the House of Commons prepares to resume on Jan. 25, the government is expected to table some significant pieces of legislation this year which they promised during the 78-day election campaign.
Here’s a look at some of the projected bills likely to come across parliamentarians’ desks in 2016.
As long promised, the Liberal government is expected to “legalize, regulate and restrict access to marijuana” during its mandate. While the government has not indicated exactly when it will table legislation to legalize pot, Trudeau said during the election campaign that it would be an “early priority” for his government.
Earlier this month, Liberal Parliamentary Secretary to the Justice Minister Bill Blair was chosen to take the lead on the marijuana file, and work closely with the departments of Justice, Health and Public Safety on it. The first step in the process is to launch a provincial, territorial and federal task force that would consult public health, substance abuse and safety experts. Blair will eventually work with that panel to develop legislative and policy responses to the issue, Justice Spokesperson Andrew Gowing told the Canadian Press.
The government will have to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision on doctor-assisted death this year. Despite the Liberals’ request for a six-month extension to respond to the judgement, the Supreme Court granted the government a four-month extension on Jan. 15.
The Court originally gave the government until Feb. 6, 2016 to draft a new law recognizing the right of consenting adults in mental or physical pain to have a doctor help them end their lives.
Last month, the Liberals created a special Commons-Senate committee to explore the issue of doctor-assisted suicide. The committee will report back with legislative recommendations by Feb. 26, according to the motion.
During the election, the Liberals committed to introduce legislation calling for electoral reform within 18 months of forming government, meaning Canadians may see those proposed changes in 2016. The Liberals promised to convene an all-party Parliamentary committee to review a variety of reforms, such as ranked ballots, proportional representation, mandatory voting and online voting. However, the government is under pressure from the Conservatives to commit to holding a referendum on its electoral reform proposal.
Regardless of when exactly the changes are proposed, Trudeau insists the 2015 federal election was the last one conducted under the first-past-the-post voting system.
The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) may make its way onto the Parliamentary agenda in 2016. The 12-country trade zone reached a tentative deal last October, which now must be ratified by all member states.
Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland has said the Liberal government has not yet been invited to sign the TPP and also not decided whether it will do so. Ministers from the countries that negotiated the massive trade deal are expected to meet in New Zealand in early February.
In the meantime, Freeland has been conducting cross-country consultations on the trade agreement. The government has also promised a full and open Parliamentary debate on the deal.
Anti-terror legislation amendments
The Liberals have also promised to amend the Conservatives’ controversial anti-terror legislation, Bill C-51, including the creation of a multi-party parliamentary oversight committee to monitor the activities of national security departments and agencies, and an amendment stating that legal protests can’t be treated as terrorist activities. However, the government did not directly mention the Bill C-51 amendments in the Throne Speech, making it unclear when it intends to reverse parts of the legislation.
Tax cut for middle class, hike for top earners
Parliament will study the Liberals’ legislation proposing a middle-class tax cut in 2016; the bill was passed by the House of Commons in December. The motion will cut the tax rate for those earning between $45,282 and $90,563 to 20.5 per cent from 22 per cent by raising taxes on those who make more than $200,000 a year from 29 per cent to 33 per cent.
With files from The Canadian Press