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Five weeks stand between MPs and the BBQ circuit, here's what the Liberals want to pass first

The Peace tower is seen amongst flowers blooming in Confederation park near Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld The Peace tower is seen amongst flowers blooming in Confederation park near Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Wednesday, May 1, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
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When MPs file back in to the House of Commons on Tuesday, it will be for the final five-week parliamentary push of the spring.

Standing between federal politicians' two and a half months of dedicated riding time and the barbeque circuit is a stacked legislative agenda, with the governing Liberals pressing to pass as many bills as possible before picking up sticks for the summer.

The House of Commons is scheduled to adjourn on June 21, but it's fairly common for all sides to agree to call it quits a few days early as MPs start itching to get back for constituency graduation ceremonies and other warm weather celebrations. Lately though, what appears more likely is the Conservatives dangling the threat of keeping everyone in town until the last minute.

Looking ahead to what could be a raucous and late-night filled final stretch, CTVNews.ca spoke with top House representatives to get a sense of what's atop their priority list, and how they're feeling about the state of decorum in the chamber after last month's "wacko" drama. 

Here's what you need to know.

What are the bills, hot topics to watch?

Without question, the top pieces of legislation the Liberals will be gunning to get passed before adjourning for the summer are a pair of big money bills, and perhaps a third that's yet to be presented.

The first is Bill C-59, the still sluggishly moving Fall Economic Statement Implementation Act, 2023. After being tabled in the House back in November 2023, it has only made it to report stage.

Among the measures waiting to become law through this legislation are a suite of carbon capture and clean tech investment tax credits, as well as efforts to strengthen Canada's competition rules in light of grocery sector price increases.

Related to this, watch for more debate around this country's grocery sector, in light of renewed attention on the promised national code of conduct.

Over the weekend, NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre giving them a heads-up that his party will push them to "show people where you stand" by forcing a debate and vote on "making big grocers pay what they owe."

The second, and arguably top, bill to keep tabs on is Bill C-69, the Budget Implementation Act, 2024, No. 1. Still at second reading, this legislation includes measures to launch a national school food program and enact the criticized new Canada Disability Benefit, as well as a suite of new housing reforms.

Notably left out of this bill was the Liberals' promised capital gains inclusion rate increase, which Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland has vowed to advance in a separate piece of legislation. 

This move will force Poilievre to definitively take a stand on the measure targeting Canada's wealthiest. So far, he's dodged declaring his position on the proposal by saying the Liberals have yet to present this bill.

Once this legislation is presented, the debate on this third piece of major economic policy will certainly be one to watch.

On both the fall economic update and federal budget bills, in an effort to expedite their passage through the upper chamber once they make it out of the House, the Senate is conducting what's called a "pre-study," which allows senators to consider the content of the legislation before it is formally before them.

"As we head into the final five weeks of the spring sitting of the House, our government has an ambitious agenda. We are committed to providing fairness for every generation through programs that improve the lives of Canadians," Government House Leader Steven MacKinnon said in a statement to CTV News.

Beyond these bills, MacKinnon pointed to a handful of other pieces of government legislation the Liberals will prioritize for debate.

First on his list is Bill C-64, the Pharmacare Act. This legislation is a top priority for the federal NDP as well.

"We want to get it through, we want to get those agreements signed, we want people to start getting that help. It's very much a Jagmeet Singh, Pierre Poilievre confrontation that Jagmeet Singh is going to win, because people need the supports, and the NDP is absolutely determined that we push through the blocking that Pierre Poilievre has put up," NDP House Leader Peter Julian told CTV News.

Expect to see this legislation – which paves the way for millions of Canadians to access birth control and diabetes coverage – move rapidly through its outstanding stages, as the Liberals and NDP agreed to allocate the remaining deliberation time through a programming motion after Conservative attempts to block the bill.

The Liberals and New Democrats also want to see Bill C-58, the so-called "anti-scab" legislation that would ban replacement workers, advance. Since March, this bill has been under study by the House human resources committee. 

Beyond these bills, there is some Liberal hope to see progress made on Bill C-63, the long-awaited Online Harms Act, which has yet to come up for any debate after being tabled in February, and Bill C-70, the Countering Foreign Interference Act, which includes a foreign agent registry.

Two other bills MacKinnon said he wants to see move, are Bill C-61, the First Nations Clean Water Act, and Bill C-49, the so-called "Atlantic Accord" legislation.

Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer did not specifically identify any priority bills, but in a statement vowed generally to "continue fighting" Trudeau on the carbon tax while calling for a summer gas tax holiday, and pressing for accountability regarding "scandals and corruption," such as the ArriveCan controversy.

"And we will continue to oppose his government's inflationary budgets that are raising the cost of living, hurting Canadian families, and driving up interest rates that are forcing Canadians to renew mortgages at massively higher rates, adding more hurt to homeowners and renters," Scheer said.

After Conservatives pressed the issue over the last few weeks, Scheer's comment made no mention of the Official Opposition advancing any further political pressure over federal drug decriminalization policies.

What's being said about the tone?

In order to break the legislative logjam, expect more Liberal-NDP cooperation on motions to help expedite certain bills.

It's something Julian said wouldn't be necessary if the Conservatives didn't try to "block everything" on the government's agenda, an accusation the Official Opposition routinely rebuffs.

What can often come with this spring scramble to pass bills are flaring tensions.

After an already acrimonious 2024 sitting, some are gearing up for a rather ugly final stretch as the pressure is really on the government to deliver on some of its biggest outstanding promises, while the other parties try to carve out areas where they can take credit for making the Liberals change course. 

CTV News asked the Liberal, Conservative and NDP House leaders how they're feeling about the tone in the commons heading into the final spring sitting weeks.

"We will continue to call on MPs, particularly Pierre Poilievre's Conservatives, to cast aside self-serving partisan obstruction and instead offer real solutions that help Canadians now," MacKinnon said.

Julian said he sees "no willingness" on the Conservatives' behalf "to do anything but burn the place down."

"They do not want to ensure that good legislation gets passed, quite the contrary," Julian said. He's hoping House of Commons Speaker Greg Fergus leverages the powers he has to ensure parliamentarians, from all parties, act like parliamentarians.

Scheer's emailed statement didn't address this question.

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