Question Period: Private Members’ Bills

By: The Hon. Marty Klyne

Share this post:

Whale tail breaching water, Newfoundland

Hon. Marty Klyne: Senator Gold, last week, Senator Dasko shared a poll showing that 69% of Canadians want future governments to continue appointing independent senators. Only 5% of Canadians want a return to the partisan system. However, under our Rules, some senators currently hold a de facto veto on voting on independent senators’ initiatives.

In a recent speech, Senator Dalphond also highlighted that the more independent Senate does not yet have rules to ensure fairness, transparency and due diligence in our process for House of Commons private members’ bills. The previous Government Representative Office, or GRO, recommended taking action on this issue within the first year of the last Parliament.

Senator Gold, should our chamber explore such potential rule changes in the fall?

Hon. Marc Gold (Government Representative in the Senate): Senator, thank you for your question. The GRO is always open to good ideas to advance the modernization of the Senate and would, of course, welcome an open dialogue on how the Senate can best fulfill its duty to carefully review legislation.

I would note, colleagues, that a number of proposals have been made, and many senators have ideas about this. We’re talking now about private members’ bills coming from the other place. Examples include a lottery system such as the one they have in the other place. In that context, the issue would benefit from a more structured and results-oriented dialogue.

My office would be very supportive of the Rules Committee engaging this in order to zero in on an approach that would have broad support across the chamber.

Senator Klyne: Senator Gold, on this subject, my focus is Bill C-273, MP Peter Julian’s bill to ban the use of corporal punishment on kids in Canada. It’s currently at report stage in the other place, answering to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action No. 6.

If Bill C-273 comes to us, would the government like to see a timely and transparent voting process on that bill?

Senator Gold: Thank you. Let me be clear, the government is committed to implementing all of the Calls to Action stemming from the 2015 Final Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Repealing section 43 would be one more step in accomplishing that commitment, as it would be in alignment with Call to Action No. 6.

More broadly, the government shares the view that private members’ bills duly passed by the elected house ought to be debated, considered and voted on in this chamber.

Share this post: