As Parliament recesses for Christmas, I am happy to report that so far this has been one of the most successful Parliaments in terms of government legislation introduced and passed.
This is especially surprising given that Canada’s 40th Parliament had a very rough start.
Who could have foreseen this legislative success a year ago as a coalition comprised of two parties rejected in a general election a mere two months before, supported by another party committed to breaking up the country, were poised to seize power.
As Government House Leader it’s my job to navigate and negotiate legislation through the House of Commons. Yet, we didn’t even have the opportunity to introduce any government legislation in this Parliament’s first sitting last fall.
Then when we returned for the second sitting (the TRUE first sitting for all intents and purposes), I wasn’t certain our government would survive the coalition’s lust for power, let alone advance our legislation.
And yet, I was able to report to you this past June when Parliament recessed for the summer that the “first” sitting of the 40th Parliament saw the most Government Bills introduced in any parliaments’ first sitting since 1993.
Furthermore, nearly half of those bills attained “Royal Assent”, or passed into law, the second highest “Royal Assent” rate for a first sitting of a parliamentary session since 1993 … and that was in a majority Parliament!
In the next sitting which just wrapped up this past week, the news just keeps getting better. Our Government has introduced a total of 70 bills this Parliament. Incredibly in this splintered minority parliament, 34 of those bills, or half, have received Royal Assent.
An additional four bills have been passed by the House of Commons and are awaiting passage in the Senate.
And there’s the ‘glitch’ in my upbeat report …the antics of the unelected Liberal majority in the Senate!
Unfortunately, as the end to their majority approaches in the coming weeks, Liberal Senators have stepped-up their efforts to obstruct and gut important government legislation. In many cases, as a message of displeasure directed at Michael Ignatieff’s leadership, Liberal Senators have voted against or amended the very legislation their elected Liberal counterparts in the House of Commons supported.
This is not a simple matter of partisan gamesmanship. These are serious pieces of legislation designed to enhance the safety of Canadians.
For example, they watered down Bill C-15, our Conservative Government’s legislation to impose mandatory prison sentences for drug offences that involve organized crime, violence or preying on youth.
They also gutted Bill C-6, our Conservative Government’s key consumer product safety legislation that would have replaced a 40-year-old law and required mandatory product recalls when companies fail to act on legitimate safety concerns.
The Liberal Senators’ amendments instead put us behind our international trading partners and erode confidence that we can effectively protect Canadians from companies who profit from dangerous goods.
Despite this Liberal obstructionism, when Parliament resumes in the New Year, our government will continue to build upon our success so far and advance our legislation to stimulate our economy and protect Canadians now and in the future.