As election talks intensify, Liberal government draws a line in the sand on legislation
House leader Pablo Rodriguez said today that the Liberal government is determined to pass four key bills before the summer – and that it is ready to use any parliamentary maneuvering necessary to cross the finish line.
With just 10 days of the House of Commons adjourning for a month-long recess, there is little time left to get these four bills – the budget bill, C-6 (the ban on conversion therapy) , C-10 (the Broadcasting Act reforms) and C-12 (the Net Zero Emissions Bill) – through both Houses of Parliament.
And with a possible fall federal election on the horizon, the government is eager to rack up legislative victories to beef up its record before asking voters for another term.
Rodriguez could use time allocation to get bills through – a tool used to reduce the length of time MPs can study, debate or propose amendments to government legislation. The Liberals also brought forward a motion to keep the Commons running until late in the evening for the remainder of the sitting.
“State of electoral emergency”
Last week, the Liberal campaign co-chairs declared a “state of electoral emergency” and suspended normal rules to allow the party to nominate candidates quickly – a sign that party agents are preparing for an election that could take place at any time in this minority Parliament.
MPs also unanimously agreed to hold a “take note debate” in the House of Commons on June 15 to allow members who do not appear again to “make their farewell speech.”
But Rodriguez today denied that the government’s legislative demands are motivated by the prospect of an imminent call for elections.
“We don’t want elections. We want bills. No election – bills. Bills to help LGBT children, bills to help our artists, our industry cultural, bills to protect the environment, “he said.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has repeatedly said that “no one wants an election before this pandemic is over.”
WATCH: “We don’t want an election,” says Liberal government House leader
When asked why some of these bills could not be held up for the slated return of Parliament in the fall, Rodriguez said the Liberals were elected in 2019 with a mandate to pass progressive legislation and accused opposition conservatives of working to block bills that have some support from other parties.
“I cannot stress enough the urgency of this situation,” he said, adding that further delays threaten gay and lesbian children who could be subjected to “conversion therapy”, a practice that many experts recognize it as harmful.
He said it would be irresponsible to act on climate change by delaying the C-12 – which would force current and future federal governments to set binding climate targets to bring Canada to net zero carbon emissions by 2050 – would be irresponsible.
“Is there anything more urgent than the environment? he said.
Rodriguez said the Conservatives are deliberately missing the time to net zero. Conservative environmental critic Dan Albas, meanwhile, said he was simply asking legitimate questions at committee meetings.
The Tories also say they have problems with the people the government has appointed to a net zero advisory group, saying the oil and gas industry has been left out while “climate activists” have been left in charge.
The Conservatives are also fiercely opposed to Bill C-10, a law the government says seeks to charge digital streaming services for the creation, production and promotion of Canadian content.
If passed, Bill C-10 would subject online broadcasting platforms operated in Canada – such as Netflix, Spotify, Crave and Amazon Prime – to the Broadcasting Act, allowing the Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) to impose regulations on them. .
But the Conservatives argue that the legislation is too onerous and threatens “fundamental rights and freedoms of Canadians” because it would give the CRTC the power to regulate the posts that millions of Canadians upload to social media platforms every day.
“The kings of systematic obstruction”
Rodriguez said the Tories had been spreading “lies” about the C-10.
“It forces the web giants to pay their fair share. Who can be against this? The Conservatives. The Conservatives have been spreading lies about the bill. This has to stop. The bill has to move forward,” did he declare.
Tory House Leader Gerard Deltell said it was hypocritical of the Liberals to accuse the Tories of delaying anything when it was Liberal MPs who obstructed committees investigating various government scandals, including the WE Charity case and the government’s handling of sexual misconduct in the military.
“Without a shadow of a doubt, the Liberals are the real kings of filibuster,” Deltell said, adding that Liberal MPs had filibustered for 167 hours in five different committees since the return of the government. Parliament last fall.
Deltell said that ultimately the onus is on the government to get its legislation through parliament and that it is up to the opposition parties to oppose it. “They are calling the shots,” he said.
The government’s decision to prorogue Parliament at the height of the WE Charity affair last summer resulted in the biggest legislative delays, Deltell said.
“When you do the reset, you burn a lot of time in the House of Commons,” he said.