New Brunswick Tribune

Thursday, November 30, 2023

It’s doubtful whether the Liberals will pass the two remaining priority bills before Christmas

Liberals may pass two more priority bills before the holidays.

Key takeaways:

  • Only a week remained for the federal Liberal administration to get important legislation approved by Parliament before the Christmas break.
  • The finance and human resources committees of the House of Commons are now debating Bills C-2 and C-3, respectively. 

Only a week remains for the federal Liberal government to obtain parliamentary approval of crucial legislation before the Christmas break.

The administration intends to pass one of the three bills before Parliament’s six-week Christmas break begins on December 17 has been approved.

However, it’s unclear whether the other two will clear all of the parliamentary hurdles in time to fulfill the government’s self-imposed deadline.

Bill C-2, which would create targeted support programs for industries severely hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, as well as a new lockdown benefit for people laid off as a result of the pandemic, appears to be in jeopardy.

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The minority Liberals appear to have a better chance with Bill C-3, which received unanimous support in principle from all parties on Thursday.

This two-pronged plan would provide federally regulated employees with ten days of paid sick leave and create new criminal offenses geared at combating harassment and intimidation of healthcare workers who have faced anti-vaccination or anti-abortion protests outside hospitals and clinics.

A third priority bill, prohibiting the discredited practice of conversion therapy to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender essence, passed the House last week and the Senate earlier this week without debate or votes. It was given royal assent on Wednesday and has now become law.

The finance and human resources committees of the House of Commons are now debating Bills C-2 and C-3, respectively. Neither committee has set a timeline for reviewing the proposals and bringing them to the House of Commons for final debate and voting.

C-3 has the support of all opposition parties, at least in theory, which might hasten its passage through the committee and the Commons.

However, the minority administration has yet to find a partner to assure that C-2 receives the same treatment.

Uncertain if Liberals can pass two remaining priority bills before  Christmas break
Uncertain if Liberals can pass two remaining priority bills before Christmas break. Image from Yahoo News Canada

Both the Conservatives and the NDP have stated that they oppose the bill. The Bloc Quebecois is willing to back it, but a few criteria must be addressed before.

The Bloc wants assurances from the government that workers in the cultural sector will receive direct assistance, that aid will be extended to other industries, such as aerospace, if necessary, and that the assured income supplement will no longer be clawed back from seniors who received pandemic emergency benefits.

Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland took pains to commend the Bloc’s desire to engage on the bill during her testimony to the finance committee on Thursday, emphasizing her willingness to satisfy the party’s criteria.

Freeland’s assurances, however, were “not yet sufficient,” according to Bloc MP Gabriel Ste-Marie, who spoke to The Canadian Press following.

He stated, “We need firm guarantees.”

Even if the committees complete their work quickly and the Commons passes C-2 and C-3 by the end of the week, they must still pass the Senate before becoming law.

Two Senate committees have begun a pre-study of C-3, which should help the bill move through the upper chamber more quickly once it arrives. On the other hand, no such pre-study has been initiated on C-2.

Source: Global News

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