Question Period: Government’s Legislative Agenda

By: The Hon. Diane Bellemare

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East and West block of Parliament, Ottawa

Hon. Diane Bellemare: My question is for the Government Representative in the Senate. It’s nearly time to look back and take stock of our parliamentary record for this session. Since the beginning of this new Parliament, the government has decided to introduce several of its bills in the Senate. Since December, a total of 10 government bills have been introduced. By way of comparison, the Trudeau government introduced six in the Forty‑second Parliament, which lasted four years. Of course, it is the government’s prerogative to proceed in this way.

Prime Minister Harper’s Conservative government also had a habit of doing that. In the first session of the Forty-first Parliament, it introduced 17 bills, and in the second session of the Forty-first Parliament, it introduced seven bills.

Personally, I have no problem with this. On the contrary, I think it can allow the Senate to do its job of providing sober second thought, especially if the bills are introduced in February, March or April.

What do you think of this practice? Will this trend continue? Do you appreciate and encourage this approach?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Thank you for the question. I am grateful for the respect the government has for the work of the Senate. I am very proud of the work that we have accomplished reviewing government bills in the Senate.

That being said, I believe that we need to strike the right balance. As many have already mentioned, it is also important to have more of the testimony and analysis done at the other place.

This is pure speculation on my part, honourable colleagues, because I have no idea what is going to happen to us when we return from the break. However, I am sure that when the Senate receives bills, either after they have been studied at the other place or at the beginning of the parliamentary process, we will continue to do the work we are known for, and rightly so, in the Senate.

Senator Bellemare: Don’t you find it interesting that, under the current procedure, the Senate can, on the one hand, study bills and, on the other hand, debate changes made later at the other place?

Senator Gold: If I understood the question correctly, I do indeed find that interesting. We are, for example, debating Bill S-5 on the environment. It is a very important bill. We have done very good work in committee. We will see how the House of Commons receives the work we have done, and we will continue the debate this week.

As I said in response to your question, it is normal for us to receive bills after they have been studied and debated at the other place. In other words, there is room for both ways of legislating.


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