As MPs wind down their last sitting week before the summer break, we’re reflecting on some of the government’s major accomplishments and what still remains to be done. The last couple of weeks have been a flurry of activity in Parliament as members press their priorities and stakeholders try to cut through the noise and make their points to decision makers.
While meetings and events in Ottawa will slow down after this week, the push to advance your priorities doesn’t have to. Stakeholders should look for opportunities to engage over the summer months and think carefully about how to align their priorities with those of the government when Parliament returns in the fall.
Now is the perfect time to look at what’s on deck to be completed this week in the House and the Senate. Also, what are the next steps for legislation that doesn’t make it across the finish line.
The final push
There was much speculation that the House would rise at the end of last week after passing the first budget implementation act. It turned out, however, the government needed more time to push the BIA and other priorities through.
The House will consider Bill C-21, an act with respect to firearms, at second reading this morning. It will then move to Bill C-11, the online streaming act, in the afternoon. The legislation will likely be read a third time on Monday and voted through on Tuesday, before moving to the first reading in the Senate where an agreement has been met to hold a final vote on the Bill by or before November 18th.
There was a pre-study done for C-19, the first budget implementation act, which should speed things along. It’s been read a second time and is awaiting its first, and like only, official committee meeting Tuesday. The bill will be reported back to the Senate on Wednesday and if there are no amendments, it will move directly to Royal Assent, bringing the bill into law. If there are amendments, the House would have to deal with them onThursday to get everything done before the House rises.
Finally, the Government House Leader Mark Holland told MPs last Thursday that the House should find a way to expedite the passage of Bill C-28, an act concerning the exemption on self-induced extreme intoxication. After a recent Supreme Court decision stating that parts of the old law were unconstitutional, the government hoped that this new legislation would be sent to the Senate before summer. While that is still a possibility, it would be a stretch.
Priorities for the Fall
The government ran into roadblocks on some central priorities, including C-11, C-13, the official languages act, and C-18, the Online News Act. As mentioned above, C-11 will be sent to the Senate this week, but the legislation won’t be dealth with until the fall. The Senate has committed itself to a thorough review of the legislation and many think it will end up being amended and sent back to the House.
C-13 is still in mid-study at the official languages committee in the House. Meetings are scheduled for today and Wednesday, but it’s doubtful whether things will wrap up before the break. Even if the legislation does pass the House in time, the Senate did not conduct a pre-study. This increases the possibility of amendments. Either way, the chances are pretty good that C-13 ends up on the government’s fall to-do list.
C-18, the Online News Act, and C-27, the government’s recently introduced new Digital Charter Implementation Act, will also be priorities in the fall session.
There was one bit of good news for the government this spring. Senate leaders agreed to pass all government legislation introduced first in the Senate. These “S bills” include seven pieces of government legislation that will be considered for the first time in the House of Commons this fall/ winter. Most aren’t high priority items for the government, however, so they don’t have to be introduced immediately.
As much as we would all like to kick back and relax at the beach or the BBQ, there’s still much to do.
One of the big things for us is looking for the regulations that will be coming as the result of the first budget implementation act. Once it becomes law, C-19 will grant significant new authorities to ministers who are responsible for the priorities outlined in the last budget.
Then the work begins on the fall legislative agenda and fall economic statement, and preparations for pre-budget consultations. Even after Parliamentarians leave Ottawa for their home communities, there are still opportunities for engagement with key decision makers. This could include in-ridnig meetings with committee members, parliamentary secretaries, ministers, caucus chairs, and staff, as well as setting up issue-based caucuses or planning events for the fall.
The summer break is a great time to take a step back and reassess the best way to position your priorities alongside the priorities of decision makers when they return.