Leg­is­la­tion worth watch­ing



What should you watch for this fall as the Trudeau govern­ment hits its busy midterm?

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 list of some leg­is­la­tion worth watch­ing:


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 CSIS. 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-to-in­for­ma­tion rules is less than what the Lib­er­als promised dur­ing their election cam­paign, which has elicited crit­i­cism and will con­tinue to be brought up.


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 gen­der-neu­tral.

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.


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-ever 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.


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 Na­tional 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.

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