With a few weeks left in the session, here's what's left to pass
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau rises during Question Period in the House of Commons Monday January 28, 2019 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Published Thursday, May 23, 2019 5:26PM EDT
OTTAWA – MPs return to Parliament Hill Monday, giving them four weeks until the House of Commons likely adjourns for the final time before the election campaign begins.
After members of Parliament decamp to their ridings for the summer BBQ circuit and pre-election campaigning, senators are scheduled to stay in town an extra week to wrap up whatever legislation they can. All of this timing of course, is pending any unforeseen need to reconvene Parliament, -- say, over needing to ratify CUSMA.
All told, this leaves just 24 sitting days to pass whatever legislation remains. Any bills not passed will die when Parliament adjourns and would have to be re-tabled if a future government wanted to still pursue them.
Here's where all active outstanding pieces of government legislation stand. Given the flow of bills, those in the Senate are closest to passage, as are the bills that have been sent back to the House with Senate amendments.
In the House:
Bills at second reading
- Bill C-87, the Poverty Reduction Act. This was tabled by Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos in November 2018.
- Bill C-98, which amends the RCMP Act and CBSA Act to set up a new oversight body for the two agencies. It was tabled by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale in May.
Bills being studied at committee
- Bill C-88, which makes changes related to regional resource protections in the Mackenzie Valley in the Northwest Territories. It was tabled by Intergovernmental and Northern Affairs Minister Dominic LeBlanc in November 2018 and is currently before the House Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee.
- Bill C-92, which seeks to assert that Indigenous people have jurisdiction over child and family services in their communities. It was tabled by Indigenous Services Minister Seamus O'Regan in May and has been fast-tracked and is currently also before the House Indigenous and Northern Affairs Committee. It is being pre-studied in the Senate as well, so expect this bill to keep moving quickly.
- Bill C-93, the pot pardons legislation. Tabled by Goodale in May, it is currently before the House Public Safety and National Security Committee. Its first meeting on the legislation is scheduled for next week.
- Bill C-97, the Budget Implementation Act, 2019. This omnibus bill makes all sorts of changes tied into the federal budget, and also makes immigration law and housing rights changes. It was tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in April and is being studied by the House Finance Committee, as well as the Senate National Finance Committee. It's expected to pass, as all budget bills do.
Bills awaiting consideration of Senate amendments
- Bill C-58, the legislation that changes Canada's Access to Information Law in several ways, including giving the new information commissioner new authorities. Though it has largely been panned as a bad bill that will not improve an already troubled freedom of information system. It was first ushered in under the Treasury Board portfolio in June 2017. The Senate amended it considerably and has sent it back to the House.
- Bill C-81, the Accessible Canada Act, from Minister of Public Services and Procurement and Accessibility Minister Carla Qualtrough. It makes sweeping accessibility law changes and was tabled in 2018. The minister tweeted this week that she’ll be accepting all Senate changes, meaning it is set to pass soon.
What about bills at first reading?
There are 14 other government bills still in the House, but they all are at first reading. All but one of them have been stalled since 2017. Some of this legislation was folded into other bills that have since advanced, so don’t expect to see these bills move.
The one exception is the recently tabled Bill C-94, which allows for payments from federal coffers to be made in relation to infrastructure, the Shock Trauma Air Rescue Service, and to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. This was tabled by Finance Minister Bill Morneau in March, and still has a chance to move forward as it doesn't appear to be a contentious or dense proposal. The bill is six pages long.
There are also no bills currently at report stage or third reading in the House, though expect that to change as soon as the aforementioned bills get moving next week.
In the Senate:
Bills at second reading:
- Bill C-84, which mends the Criminal Code to crack down on bestiality and animal fighting offences. It was tabled by then-justice minister Jody Wilson-Raybould in 2018 and just passed into the Senate earlier this month.
- Bill C-91, the Indigenous Languages Act, which is aimed at reviving Indigenous languages and would create a new Office of the Commissioner of Indigenous Languages. It was tabled in February by Canadian Heritage and Multiculturalism Minister Pablo Rodriguez and also just passed into the upper chamber recently.
Bills being studied at committee:
- Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act would introduce a federal ban on tanker traffic off of the B.C. north coast. The Senate Committee on Transport and Communications just recommended it not be proceeded with at all. Now it'll be on the Senate as a whole to decide whether to take that advice and kill the government bill, which was first tabled by Transport Minister Marc Garneau in 2017.
- Bill C-77, which introduces a victims' bill of rights for the military justice system. From Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, it was tabled in 2018 and is currently before the Senate National Security and Defence Committee, though the committee has only held one meeting on it so far.
- Bill C-68, the legislation that makes changes to the Fisheries Act related to make clear the minister’s authority and strengthen the powers for enforcement of the law. It was tabled under the Fisheries, Oceans, and Canadian Coast Guard portfolio in February 2018, and has been studied the last two months in the Senate Fisheries and Oceans Committee.
- Bill C-78, which updates family and divorce laws, in an attempt to have more disputes settled out of court, and amends the language related to custody. It’s a justice proposal first tabled in 2018, and it’s currently before the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. The committee has just come out of back-to-back studies of other government bills, so its look into this one has yet to begin.
- Bill C-69, which makes a number of considerable changes to environmental assessments and regulations. The Senate Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources Committee has suggested dozens of amendments and it will now be on the whole Senate to determine how it wants to handle the contentious proposal that was first tabled in February 2018.
- Bill C-82, the Multilateral Instrument in Respect of Tax Conventions Act. It's a Morneau initiative first tabled in June 2018. The Senate Foreign Affairs and International Trade Committee has yet to begin studying it.
- Bill C-75, an omnibus piece of legislation that aims to reform a number of areas of Canada's criminal justice system and address court backlogs. It was tabled in March 2018 and has been studied intensely at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee over this month. This study could wrap soon, and it is yet to be seen whether it'll be amended as it was in the House.
- Bill C-83, which proposes to overhaul how federal inmates are separated from the general prison population, eliminating solitary confinement as it is known. It was tabled in October 2018 and is currently getting studied by the Senate Social Affairs, Science and Technology Committee.
Bills at report stage:
- Bill C-59, the National Security Act, which is a wide-spanning piece of legislation that proposes national security and oversight reforms. The Senate National Security and Defence Committee has reported it back with amendments. The Senate will now deliberate if it will accept the proposed changes.
Bills at third reading:
- Bill C-71, the gun control bill that includes various measures that tightens the rules around gun ownership. It was amended considerably by the Senate National Security and Defence Committee but the Senate as a whole rejected those amendments so the bill as it was, is now poised to pass and move on to Royal Assent.
Bills passed so far:
Since forming government, the Liberals have managed to pass 68 pieces of government legislation, including major changes to Canada's physician-assisted dying regime, cannabis legalization, an anti-harassment policy for federal workers, and six budget implementation bills. They’ve been able to do this in part with the use of time allocation, a procedural tool that limits debates. It’s a tactic that is commonly used, but is always railed against by the opposition.
On top of these bills, there are dozens of other private member’s bills left on the agenda, including a proposal to end the captivity of whales and dolphins, legislation to create a new statutory holiday focused on reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians, and a bill that would require comprehensive training for judges on sexual assault. Here’s our latest rundown of the private member’s bills to watch.