Leg­is­la­tion worth watch­ing


OT­TAWA — What should you watch for this fall as Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau’s Lib­eral gov­ern­ment hits its busy mid-term?

Both the House of Com­mons and Se­nate will start sit­ting again this week. For the first time dur­ing Trudeau’s man­date, he will face per­ma­nent op­po­si­tion lead­ers: Con­ser­va­tive An­drew Scheer, and whomever New Democrats elect in Oc­to­ber.

We will find out if this fact, or the gov­ern­ment’s han­dling of key files this fall, will ex­tend or dis­rupt the hon­ey­moon Lib­er­als have en­joyed.

Here’s a non-ex­haus­tive list of leg­is­la­tion worth watch­ing: Ma­jor gov­ern­ment bills

Le­gal pot and drug-im­paired driv­ing (C-45 and C-46)

The bill set­ting a le­gal frame­work around a recre­ational mar­i­juana mar­ket was be­ing stud­ied in marathon com­mit­tee hear­ings this week. De­bate will con­tinue in the House of Com­mons around fed­eral rules cov­er­ing the pro­duc­tion and sale of weed, but also in pro­vin­cial ju­ris­dic­tions, where age lim­its, points of sale and more are be­ing de­cided — like On­tario’s plan to give gov­ern­ment store­fronts a mo­nop­oly on cannabis sales. A sub­se­quent bill in­tro­duces new crim­i­nal of­fences for drug-im­paired driv­ing and, con­tro­ver­sially, gives cops the abil­ity to com­pel al­co­hol breath­a­lyzer tests without cause.

Na­tional se­cu­rity (C-59)

The Lib­er­als’ an­swer to the Con­ser­va­tive anti-ter­ror­ism law, re­mem­bered as Bill C-51, beefs up over­sight on se­cu­rity agen­cies, re­vamps the role of the Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Se­cu­rity Es­tab­lish­ment and tight­ens and specif­i­cally pre­scribes the pow­ers of the Cana­dian Se­cu­rity and In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice. Changes are ex­ten­sive, so ex­pect a se­ri­ous de­bate.

Trans­port mod­ern­iza­tion (C-49)

Sweep­ing changes to air and rail trans­porta­tion were be­ing dis­cussed in com­mit­tee this week. The bill in­cludes a “pas­sen­ger bill of rights” and an ex­ten­sive list of changes to how rail­way com­pa­nies should op­er­ate.

Ac­cess to in­for­ma­tion (C-58)

A new law amend­ing ac­cess-toin­for­ma­tion rules is less than what the Lib­er­als promised dur­ing their elec­tion cam­paign, which has elicited crit­i­cism and will con­tinue to be brought up. On the docket in the Se­nate

Sex-based in­equities in the In­dian Act (S-3)

A bill to re­move sex-based in­equities in the reg­is­tra­tion of In­dige­nous peo­ple as “sta­tus” In­di­ans un­der the In­dian Act has faced con­sid­er­able back­lash in the Se­nate for, se­na­tors and ad­vo­cates be­lieve, not go­ing far enough to re­move dis­crim­i­na­tion from the sys­tem. The Lib­er­als have now had to seek two dif­fer­ent court ex­ten­sions on a de­ci­sion that ini­tially prompted the bill. The gov­ern­ment re­jected Se­nate amend­ments on the fi­nal day of Com­mons sit­tings this spring. Se­na­tors ap­pear pre­pared to bat­tle the gov­ern­ment in­def­i­nitely, so watch for a fiery stand­off.

Na­tional an­them (C-210)

A pri­vate mem­ber’s bill to change a few words in the na­tional an­them con­tin­ues to stall at third read­ing in the Se­nate af­ter Con­ser­va­tive se­na­tors suc­cess­fully de­layed its pas­sage. The bill changes “in all thy sons com­mand” to “in all of us com­mand” so lyrics are more gen­derneu­tral.

Sex­ual as­sault train­ing for judges (C-337)

A pri­vate mem­ber’s bill from for­mer in­terim Con­ser­va­tive leader Rona Am­brose passed unan­i­mously in the Com­mons and cur­rently sits at sec­ond read­ing in the Se­nate. It would re­quire fed­eral judges to re­ceive train­ing on sex­ual as­sault of­fences. Se­nate bills in the House

Plain pack­ag­ing for to­bacco (S-5)

Af­ter it got through the Se­nate this spring, the gov­ern­ment won’t have trou­ble pass­ing a bill gov­ern­ing new rules for to­bacco pack­ag­ing, and in­tro­duc­ing the first reg­u­la­tions around va­p­ing. But it will still hear crit­i­cism from the to­bacco in­dus­try, which says the bill will give or­ga­nized crime a leg up by mak­ing it eas­ier to pro­duce coun­ter­feit prod­ucts. Leg­is­la­tion to come

Tax re­form

Bill’s bills are com­ing. Ar­guably the sum­mer’s biggest talker were new tax re­forms sug­gested by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Bill Morneau. Draft leg­is­la­tion is on the table for two out of three pro­pos­als that seek to in­crease fair­ness in the tax sys­tem and, per Morneau, close loop­holes that al­lowed the wealthy to lessen their tax bur­dens. For­mal leg­is­la­tion won’t be in­tro­duced un­til af­ter a cross-coun­try con­sul­ta­tion is over. It could hap­pen this fall. Tories will put up as big a fight as they can muster.

Elec­tions re­form

Demo­cratic In­sti­tu­tions Min­is­ter Ka­rina Gould told the post a new elec­tions bill could come as early as fall. It could include time lim­its on elec­tion cam­paigns and re­strict how third-party ad­vo­cacy or­ga­ni­za­tions par­tic­i­pate in elec­tions.


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau stands dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod in the House of Com­mons on Par­lia­ment Hill in Ot­tawa last June. Both the House of Com­mons and Se­nate will start sit­ting again this week.

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