Tag Archives: federal

Bills, bills, bills

Inspired by a CBC journalist who wrote about the many bills that were killed as Harper prorogued parliament for the second time in as many years, I couldn’t help but go to the LEGISinfo website and look for myself.

Parliament convened on the 18th of November in 2008, and was quickly prorogued on December fourth, leaving an extra long Christmas break for all members of Parliament. As it was such a short little session for our elected members, only four government bills and 52 private member bills were tabled. The four government bills passed through a first reading, but were killed, only to come back during the second session in January. The 52 private member bills were kept as they were, frozen in time until parliament could reconvene.

This is due to nifty (and somewhat convenient) law that was passed over a decade ago that allowed private member bills to carry forward from one session to the next within the same parliament – even despite proroguing. If – and now I think it is safe to say – when a parliament is prorogued due to the wisdom of the Governor General, all government bills that are killed on the spot rise again, reborn. Private member bills, however, stay kicking around in the state they were left in, to be reintroduced to the House or Senate for eventual defeat or royal assent. After the 2009 prorogation, all 52 private member bills came back, all having undergone first reading in the first session.

On to session number two. It was a busy year for the Senators and MP’s, beginning on that shiny morning of January 26th, 2009. 354 private member bills were tabled, all made it through the first reading and many were ready to come back after they were scoured by committees and layered with amendments. Only 64 government bills were tabled, though. Out of those 64, 30 received royal assent, which means more than half died on the table.

Truly, though, what does this matter to Canadians? It is not the number of bills passed or defeated; it is their content that matters. Many of them were procedural, but a few notable ones include Bill C-6: The Consumer Safety Bill, Bill C-15: The Drug Sentencing Bill; and Bill C-26: The Auto Theft Bill. All three made it to Senate and will now have to be brought back into the House then to the Senate, which will likely look remarkably different after Harper’s expected appointments.

Parliament amended the Arctic Waters Pollution Prevention Act that extended the geographic definition of Canadian arctic waters to 200 nautical miles offshore (from 100), a response to the perceived threat on Canada’s arctic sovereignty.

An “act respecting not-for-profit corporations and certain other corporations,” as stated on the LEGISinfo site, was introduced and received royal assent. This act combined three previous bills that died during the 2008 prorogation. This act was introduced to give non-profit organization greater flexibility and recognizes them separately outside the Canada Corporations Act.

There is also Bill C-8, Family Homes in Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. Reserve land is governed under federal law, and all acquisition or transfer of property is as well. However, the provincial government decides when a married couple divorces what the division of property will be, both real and personal. See the catch? The province cannot make decisions about reserve land, but there is no federal legislation or provisions in the Indian Act that governs the division of martial property. Essentially, those who obtain a divorce who also reside on reserves in Canada, are stuck in limbo as to the ownership of their home, their land, and any other property attained in their marriage. Even the United Nations has told Canada to get their act together. However, since this bill died on the order paper it looks like, once again, Ottawa will have to re-examine its treatment of FNMI persons in Canada.

These are only three examples of government bills that came through during the second session of parliament. It may have been short, but it sure was not sweet. Despite the potential to achieve quite a bit, many bills will have to come forward again, going through parliamentary procedure. Hopefully we will see more decisions made before the next election, or dare I say, prorogation.

Before it all went Prorogue in the House of Commons

First Session: November 18th 2008 – December 4th 2008,

Second Session: January 26th 2009 – December 30th, 2009

(Information from LEGISinfo, updated January 4th, 2010)

Private member bills:

354 tabled

354 went through first reading

23 were voted through to second reading

83 members who tabled private members bills

21 bills relating to Employment Insurance

25 bills relating to the Criminal Code

Government bills:

64 tabled

30 received royal assent

34 dead on the table, waiting to be revived

3 tabled by The Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Asia-Pacific Gateway

3 tabled by The Minister of State

5 tabled by The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development and Federal Interlocutor for Métis and Non-Status Indians

3 tabled by The Minister of Health

4 tabled by The Minister of Transport, Infrastructure and Communities

3 tabled by The Minister of Finance

6 tabled by The President of the Treasury Board

2 tabled by The Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food

12 tabled by The Minister of Justice

3 tabled by The Minister of Environment

7 tabled by The Minister of Public Safety

1 tabled by The Minister of Natural Resources

2 tabled by The Minister of Industry

1 tabled by The Minister of Veterans Affairs

1 tabled by The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism

2 tabled by The Minister of Human Resources and Skills Development

1 tabled by The Minster of Labour

1 tabled by The Minister of Indian Affairs and Northern Development


The MP who wins for most bills tabled is MP Peter Stoffer with a grand total of 22 bills tabled.

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A 1-2-3 on voting.

Being a huge political nerd, the Canadian Federal Election is keeping me at all hours of the night thinking thinking and thinking.

Voting is one of the simplest democratic rights we have and employ that tells the government that we want that right. The world has seen throughout history what the loss of such a simple action does to a country and to its people. Do not let this even be a slight possibility here.

This election is especially interesting as we are entering here with two consecutive minority governments of two different parties who have acted in those minority governments very differently.

While I am trying to remain non-partisan due to my current job as well as my sheer frustration with our political system, I cannot help but be appalled at the Conservatives government cuts to Arts Funding and their continuing dismissal of Social Programs as well as their continual missteps in election campaigns  – there are so many links available here I couldn’t list just one, but here are my two favourites: Immigration = crime? and Native Racism.

There are a bevy of ways to learn more and get informed. Check out your nearest Candidate Debate – here in Lethbridge noon in University Hall Atrium on October 7th. Look at reliable news sources  – check out the CBC’s Election page and the Globe and Mails Election page and watch the debates. Both the english at ctv.com and french at cbc.ca.

Lastly, voting can be more than just casting a ballot. Strategic voting has become a grassroots intiative that has gained a ton of momtentum in a short peroid of time. Check out votepair.ca for more information and how you can affect change. Also, for all you youth voters check out yvote.org for information on why, how and where to vote.

Last but not least, although Elections Canada has been nothing but useless so far, check out thier website for contact information on where voting stations are posted in your area and what to bring with you.

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Anne Murray box sets?! Oh, yes please!

Slate mag asks “What’s the matter with Canada?” and offers a interesting south of the border perspective of our lovely, large and complex country.

“You might think of Canada as the un-America, where the only debate ought to be whether to spend the country’s growing oil wealth on faster snowmobiles, bigger hockey rinks, or Anne Murray box sets.”

A pretty well written article worth the read (and by no means was I knocking Anne Murray, she was my first concert experience! Yah, that’s right. Jealous?).

In other but very related news, this Canadian federal election is looming larger and larger will soon over take even the Macy Thanksgiving Parade. May getting in the leader debates but still battling here own legitimacy within the party and in her riding, cracks in Harper’s propaganda/campaign machine and Dion’s Green Plan parade.

Whew! This is only the first week?!

Kinda reminds me of that X-Men issue where they have to battle that evil dude in a fun house of death. No feasible escape and a myriad of rooms all designed to spell out your doom. Only in this case, the evil dude is represented in each and every party and the rooms of doom are those that our political leaders walk into every day. Maybe thats a little too negative, but with the Conservatives slander campaign and three our of four leaders initially refusing Elizabeth May’s inclusion in the debates my faith in those who operate in our political system is a little shaky.

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