As the dust settled on a raucous sitting of the House of Commons, Governor-General David Johnston came to Parliament Hill and turned 19 bills into law.
Some things managed to get done in Ottawa even though the focus was often far removed from the policies being advanced in legislation.
“Regardless of whatever things may have been dominating the news, our government has been delivering on things that matter to Canadians,” said Peter Van Loan, the Government House Leader, attempting to put a positive spin on what has been a rough few weeks for the Conservatives.
Several bills were pushed through the House of Commons through a single vote Tuesday evening as part of an all-party compromise.
The opposition New Democrats and Liberals boasted that the deal to pass bills quickly included a pledge to hold hearings on how to create a new system to oversee spending by MPs and the broader House of Commons.
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair said his party deserves credit for focusing on the issue of Senate spending and the $90,000 payment by Nigel Wright, the Prime Minister’s former chief of staff, to Senator Mike Duffy.
“This has been a session where we’ve been able to communicate to Canadians the fact that we’re dealing with a tired, used Conservative government,” he said.
Here are some of the main legislative developments this week:
Bills that became law Wednesday through Royal Assent
C-15, the Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act, which makes the military justice system more consistent with the Criminal Code.
C-37, the Increasing Offenders’ Accountability to Victims Act, which doubles the amounts for a victim surcharge. The surcharge is an additional financial penalty imposed on convicted offenders and is used to fund programs for victims of crime.
C-42, Enhancing RCMP Accountability Act, which creates a new independent civilian commission to replace the existing Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP. It also gives the commissioner new powers to dismiss RCMP members.
C-43, Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, which gives the immigration minister new power to declare someone ineligible to become a temporary resident because of “public policy considerations.”
C-47, Northern Jobs and Growth Act, which updates land rights provisions in the three territories.
C-62, Yale First Nation Final Agreement Act, which implements an agreement with the B.C. First Nation.
C-63, Appropriation Act No. 2, which approves departmental spending.
C-64, Appropriation Act No. 3, which approves departmental spending.
S-2, the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, which creates provisional rules for addressing property rights on reserve in the event of a divorce.
S-8, the Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act, which sets regulations and safety standards for drinking water on reserves.
S-9, the Nuclear Terrorism Act, which makes it illegal to use nuclear or radioactive material with the intent to cause death, bodily harm or substantial property damage.
S-14, the Fighting Foreign Corruption Act, was passed by the House. It increases the maximum prison sentence for bribing a foreign public official.
S-15, the Expansion and Conservation of Canada’s National Parks Act, was passed by the House. The bill creates the Sable Island National Park Reserve of Canada. It also amends the Canada-Nova Scotia Offshore Petroleum Resources Accord Implementation Act to prohibit petroleum drilling from the boundary of the park out to one nautical mile.
S-17, a bill implementing tax treaties and conventions with Namibia, Serbia, Poland, Hong Kong, Luxembourg and Switzerland.
S-209, a Criminal Code change which clarifies that mixed martial arts is legal in Canada.
S-213, the Korean War Veterans Day Act, which sets July 27 of each year as Korean War Veterans Day.
C-309, the Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act, which makes it an offence to wear a mask while taking part in a riot or unlawful assembly.
C-321, an Act to amend the Canada Post Corporation Act, which reduces the postage rate for library materials.
C-383, the Transboundary Waters Protection Act, which prohibits the bulk removal of transboundary waters.
Bills that are on track to become law this summer if passed by the Senate
C-32, the Civil Marriage of Non-residents Act, was passed by the House. The bill closes a loophole in the 2005 gay marriage legislation that prevented some gay couples from getting a divorce. The bill had never been debated by a parliamentary committee, yet it was passed through all stages Tuesday.
C-54, the Not Criminally Responsible Reform Act, was passed by the House and sent to the Senate. The bill was introduced on Feb. 8, 2013. The bill amends the mental disorder regime in the Criminal Code and the National Defence Act to state that the paramount consideration should be the safety of the public. It also increases the involvement of victims in the process.
Bills that will die in the House of Commons (assuming Parliament is prorogued before the fall)
C-21, the Political Loans Accountability Act, would tighten rules for loaning money to political parties and candidates and reporting loan information. This bill was studied at committee last fall but has not returned to the House for third reading.
C-49, the Canadian Museum of History Act, which would replace the Gatineau-based Canadian Museum of Civilization with a new Canadian Museum of History. It has been studied by a House of Commons committee but has not yet passed third reading.
C-56, the Combatting Counterfeit Products Act, would create new criminal offences for counterfeiting and allow for new enforcement measures at the border. It was introduced this spring and is currently at committee.
C-65, the Respect for Communities Act, which was introduced this month. It would require the federal government to consider a range of factors including the views of police and government officials, before allowing a safe-injection clinic to open.
C-61, the Offshore Health and Safety Act, would establish new occupational health and safety rules in offshore areas. It was introduced last month.
S-6, the First Nations Elections Act, would allow First Nation communities to opt out of the election rules in the Indian Act in favour of new rules. It has received both support and criticism from aboriginal groups and was sent to a House committee this week.
S-10, the Prohibiting Cluster Munitions Act, would allow Canada to ratify the Convention on Cluster Munitions. It was sent to a House of Commons committee earlier this month but has not yet been studied.
C-377, An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations), would force unions to open their books to the public. The bill can become law if the Red Chamber passes it without amendment, but pushing it through could mean senators are kept in Ottawa well into the summer.As a private member’s bill, this one won’t die on the order paper if Parliament is prorogued.
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