OTTAWA — The House of Commons has risen for the summer, following a flurry of legislating that rushed numerous significant bills into law before the break. But other potential laws remained mired in the legislative process as of late Thursday, awaiting action in the Senate — or a possible special summer session centred on ratification of the new North American free trade deal.
Some of the high-profile bills that reached final votes after the beginning of last week and now just await royal assent:
Bill C-48, the Oil Tanker Moratorium Act, a much-debated bill that would ban oil tankers from a portion of the British Columbia coast. Its journey through parliament has been marked by a committee report that recommended it not pass, the defeat of that report and the House’s rejection of some Senate amendments. Following the adjournment of the House and much debate, the Senate chose not to pursue further changes and passed it Thursday evening.
Bill C-93, which will allow expedited pardons for Canadians who were convicted of simple possession of cannabis before legalization came into effect. The bill passed in the Senate Wednesday, without amendment.
Bill C-59, a bill to establish a national-security review agency, create an “intelligence commissioner” to oversee the conduct of Canada’s spy agencies, and clarify the mandate and powers of the Communications Security Establishment (the government cybersecurity agency). The bill was amended by the Senate but several of those changes were rejected by the House, and the Senate voted Tuesday not to insist on its recommendations.
Bills C-91, a bill that will create a commissioner for Indigenous languages and take other steps to save and revitalize those languages. The Senate voted Thursday, after the House had adjourned, to decline to insist on its amendments, finalizing the bill. Bill C-92, clarifying the jurisdiction of Indigenous people over family and child services in their communities, also passed through the Senate Thursday.
Bill C-75, which will “hybridize” a series of offences so that they can now be prosecuted as either indictable or less-serious summary charges, and establish peremptory challenges of jurors. The bill was passed through the Senate with amendments, the House chose not to accept several of those, and the Senate Thursday decided not to insist on the remaining changes.
Bill C-84, a long-awaited bill that expands the definition of bestiality to any sexual contact with an animal. Those convicted of bestiality will now be registered as sex offenders and banned from owning animals. It also widens the definition of animal fighting so that it applies to the construction of any arena for that purpose. It passed without amendment Tuesday.
At the time the House adjourned for the summer Thursday, several bills still required further consideration in the upper chamber, which continued sitting. Among them were several controversial and consequential bills:
Bill C-69, also fiercely criticized by the Conservatives, is the second of the government’s two major environmental bills, and would create a new environmental-impact assessment process for major projects in Canada. The House rejected a majority of the Senate’s amendments. It was due for a vote late Thursday.
Bills C-98, which gives a review commission powers to review the Canada Border Services Agency, was accelerated through the House Wednesday, when it was read a third time and passed in one swift motion.
Bill C-83, which aims to eliminate the use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. The House rejected several key amendments proposed by the Senate, which some have said are needed to make the bill constitutional.
Bill C-262, a law that would ensure federal laws are brought in line with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. But the government’s representative in the Senate, Peter Harder, announced Wednesday he did not see a path forward for the bill in the Senate and that the Trudeau government would campaign on fulfilling the intent of the bill.
Bill C-97, a sprawling budget-implementation bill which includes changes to Canada’s refugee system, support for news journalism, and introduces the Canada Training Credit.
And then there’s the one bill that could affect all the others:
Bill C-100, the government’s bill to ratify the new NAFTA agreement among Canada, the United States and Mexico. It has only been introduced and read for the first time in the House of Commons, but might move quickly through Parliament before the election should the United States complete its own ratification of the deal in Congress. If Parliament returns for that bill, the Commons and the Senate could also take up others at the same time.
Christian Paas-Lang, The Canadian Press