One of our first tasks early this week will be to elect a new Deputy Speaker. The necessity for this arises as our current Deputy Speaker, NDP MP Denise Savoie from Victoria, B.C., recently announced that she will be retiring from Parliament after six years of service, meaning there will also be a by-election in Victoria in the near future. Aside from electing a new Deputy Speaker, debate will resume on several Bills that were introduced shortly before the summer break, some of these Bills include:
Bill C-42, often referred to as the RCMP Accountability Act, is up for second reading debate starting on Monday. For those of you wondering about the definition of debate as it exists within the House of Commons at second reading, both the Prime Minister and the Leader of the official opposition have unlimited time, if desired, to speak on this Bill, followed by a 10 minute question and comment period. In addition, the first member of each recognized party has 20 minutes to speak on a bill followed by a 10 minute comment and question period during the first round of debate. During the next 5 hours of debate 20 minute slots are provided that are comprised of 10 minute speeches followed by 10 minute question and comment periods. After that round of debate, speeches remain limited to 10 minutes, however the question and comment period is limited to five minutes. Keep in mind that this is only the debate that occurs at second reading, if a Bill is passed after second reading debate it then moves on to Committee Stage review.
Second reading debate will also begin on Bill C-37, “Increasing Offenders Accountability for Victims Act”. This Bill proposes to amend the criminal code to increase and in some cases set minimum fines imposed on convicted criminals towards the victim surcharge fund. The victim surcharge fines were first created in 1989 but have not been amended since the year 2000. These changes will bring the legislation more up to date and create minimum fine amounts where none existed previously. There will also be provisions in the legislation to take into consideration financial hardship and inability to pay as well as the discretionary ability of judges to increase fines when the offender has the ability to pay and circumstance warrant such an increase. Victim surcharge fees are collected by Provincial and Territorial Governments to help fund programs that assist victims of crime.
Also occurring on Parliament Hill this week are several prominent and in some cases controversial Private Members Bills. Bill C-309 MP Richards (Wild Rose) “Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act” is at Report stage, Bill C-305 MP Chow (Trinity—Spadina) “National Public Transit Strategy Act” is at Second reading and there will also be Concurrence in Committee Reports for a Motion to concur in the 11th Report of the Standing Committee on Finance for Bill C-377, “An Act to amend the Income Tax Act (requirements for labour organizations)” and finally Motion 312 from MP Woodworth (Kitchener Centre)”Studying Canada’s 400 year old definition of Human Being” . The above are a sampling of some of the Parliamentary business we will be debating and discussing this week in Ottawa. If you would like further information on these or any Bill or Motion please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience. With the time difference in Ottawa I try to be available for discussion on most evenings between 5pm – 7pm here in B.C. (8pm-10pm in Ottawa).