This is the daily Politics Briefing newsletter, written by Ian Bailey. It is available exclusively to our digital subscribers. If you’re reading this on the web, subscribers can sign up for the Politics newsletter and more than 20 others on our newsletter signup page. Have any feedback? Let us know what you think.
Members of Parliament have passed Bill C-10, an act to amend the Broadcasting Act, handing the controversial legislation to the Senate just ahead of the summer recess.
The bill was passed early Tuesday morning with a vote of 196 to 112. The Conservatives have been staunchly opposed to the government legislation, arguing that the removal of a clause that protected the rights of individuals to upload content such as videos to social media sites means Canadian citizens could fall under the new regulations. The government has said that other amendments ensure that people’s rights will not be threatened.
With Parliament set to break for the summer on Wednesday, and with a possible fall election looming, the government is rushing to get important pieces of legislation passed. In order to do so, MPs have been working late into the night.
Reporter’s Comment, Deputy Ottawa Bureau Chief Bill Curry: “Every year in late June, the House of Commons passes a large number of bills and sends them off to the Senate. Senators often take issue with this, saying it is unfair to expect them to ‘rubber stamp’ large bills without the usual study, including calling expert witnesses to testify at committee. In some cases, like Bill C-30, the budget bill, Senators have been doing a prestudy, so quickly passing that bill won’t be an issue. No prestudy took place on Bill C-10 however and it appears the Senate wants to push back.
“We’ll see what actually happens in the Senate on Tuesday and Wednesday, but the sponsor of the bill, Senator Dennis Dawson, told The Globe Tuesday morning that he stands by his assertion that the Senate will not pass the bill before summer even though he generally supports the bill. He noted that the bill has received many amendments in the House and Senators want to hold hearings to fully understand the impact of those changes. Mr. Dawson is a member of the Progressive Senate Group, which has 12 Senators. There are also 20 Conservative Senators who will oppose the bill. Senator Yuen Pau Woo, the facilitator of 41-member Independent Senators Group, declined an interview request Tuesday morning.”
Meanwhile Bill C-6, which adds conversion therapy to the Criminal Code, is facing some challenges. Staff Writer at Large John Ibbitson reports: “On Monday evening, a handful of Conservative MPs who had been delaying a vote on the Liberal government’s legislation to ban conversion therapy for minors finally stood down, setting the stage for the House of Commons to pass the legislation Tuesday.
“But the Tory dissidents might have achieved their goal nonetheless. With Parliament set to rise later this week, the chances of the legislation making it through the Senate are faint. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will almost certainly ask for Parliament to be dissolved and an election held this fall, probably in October. If so, then Parliament will once again have failed to protect vulnerable minors from charlatans and zealots, For that failure, both Liberals and Conservatives must share the blame.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, at a news conference Tuesday, spoke to challenges facing the government’s legislative agenda, denouncing the Conservatives and seeking to rally “progressive” parties to the Liberal cause: “We have significant bills to pass. The Conservative Party is doing everything in its power to prevent these issues from advancing,” he said.
Mr. Trudeau noted that the House of Commons had passed C-10, but more needs to be done to protect the environment, defend the LGBTQ+ community and support families and small businesses. He said he hoped the Bloc Quebecois and the NDP would work with the Liberals to move these “important progressive files ahead.”
In a statement, NDP spokesperson Melanie Richer said that since the beginning of this Parliament, the party has shown it’s ready to work with the government as long as they are working for people and not the “ultra-wealthy and the powerful,” citing efforts on pandemic support. “If the PM goes to an election it’s not because the house doesn’t work but because it’s a play to try get more power. Not because it’ll help people.”
We have sought comment from the Conservatives and the Bloc Quebecois.
MISCONDUCT POLICY DENOUNCED - The military and government response to the sexual misconduct scandal in the Canadian Armed Forces has defied common sense and there has been zero accountability on behalf of political leadership when complaints are brought forward, says the military ombudsman.
ACCESS SOUGHT TO XINJIANG - More than 40 countries urged China on Tuesday to allow the U.N. human rights chief immediate access to Xinjiang region to look into reports that more than a million people have been unlawfully detained there, some subjected to torture or forced labour. The joint statement on China was read out by Canadian Ambassador Leslie Norton on behalf of countries including Australia, Britain, France, Germany, Japan and the United States to the UN Human Rights Council.
SENIOR PUBLIC SERVANT DEFIES HOUSE - The president of the Public Health Agency of Canada defied an order of the House of Commons on Monday and refused to provide unredacted documents about the dismissal of two scientists from Canada’s high-security infectious disease laboratory.
FEDS HOLD OFF BORDER POLICY - Canadians returning to the country who are fully vaccinated will have restrictions eased in two weeks, but the federal government is still refraining from laying out a road map for a broader loosening of COVID-19 border measures.
HOUSE UNANIMITY ON RESIDENTIAL SCHOOL POLICY - The House of Commons unanimously adopted a motion on Monday that included calls for a national residential school monument to be erected in Ottawa, and for financial resources to be deployed to Indigenous communities to ensure they can identify unmarked burial sites at former residential schools.
A WATERY COMMONS VOTE:
Conservative MP Scot Davidson was on the spot yesterday to vote as he returned from an Indigenous People’s Day event held by the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation.
A spokesperson for the York-Simcoe member noted Georgina Island can only be accessed by private vessel or the band-operated ferry, but strong weather conditions on Lake Simcoe caused poor wireless connectivity, and the voting app was not working for Mr. Davidson during the unscheduled vote.
As a result, Ms. Davidson had to record his vote with the Speaker directly by video, as per the adapted rules of the House of Commons, leading to an unusual moment, noted on Twitter, and accessible here.
PRIME MINISTER'S DAY
Private meetings. The Prime Minister addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 situation, followed by a media availability. He also attends Question Period, participates in a virtual conversation with members of the Parliamentary Internship Programme, and another virtual conversation with members of the House of Commons Page Program.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh attends Question Period and later gets his second shot of a COVID-19 vaccine.
A large proportion of Canadians recognize that individuals have roles to play in efforts to bring about reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people, according to a newly released survey conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in partnership with five other organizations.
Paul Evans and Yuen Pau Woo (Contributors to The Globe and Mail) on anti-China sentiment becoming anti-Chinese prejudice in Canada: “It is not racist to be critical of China or to take issue with advocates of continued engagement with China. But criticism crosses a threshold when it sensationalizes Chinese actions and stigmatizes individuals or groups with connections to China.”
Rick Hansen (Contributor to The Globe and Mail) on why building back better should mean building up accessibility: “While we have championed accessibility, we need to move beyond disparate standards. Canada can be a model, but the onus can’t be placed solely on the disability community. The expertise and responsibility to invest in inclusive spaces lies with all of us. The public and private sectors must work with all levels of government for a harmonized approach to tackling the barriers that people with disabilities face. Now is the time for our country to show the rest of the world what it means to leave nobody behind.”
John Ivison (The National Post) on the “brave choice” facing an embattled Erin O’Toole: “O’Toole needs big, shiny ideas that, ideally, don’t cost too much money. His leadership platform is not stuffed with policies that have broad appeal, unless you think voters will back his “defund the CBC” pledge. But one commitment he made during the leadership campaign is being actively considered for the general election platform, according to sources – opening the airline and wireless services sectors to foreign competition.”
Steve Paikin (TVO) on political realities for those dropped in an Ontario cabinet shuffle: “There are six former backbenchers in the Progressive Conservative government’s caucus who received perhaps the most exciting phone call of their lives last week. They got the news that Premier Doug Ford wanted them sitting at the cabinet table, running a department, and helping advise him on government policy. But their elation came at the expense of five others who were dropped. In a province of nearly 15 million people, just 29 MPPs have seats at that most coveted political table.”
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