Opinion

Albas: Fall session of Parliament will start with accountability

It was one year ago that I was headed to Ottawa for my first fall session in the House of Commons.

The fall sessions have become somewhat legendary over the years as government sets the tone for the upcoming Parliamentary agenda.

Although this is our first week back and there is already a great number of rumours and various scuttlebutt, here are some of the official items up on the parliamentary agenda.

One of our first tasks early this week will be to elect a new deputy speaker. The current deputy speaker, NDP MP Denise Savoie from Victoria, is retiring from politics.

Aside from electing a new deputy speaker, debate will resume on several legislative bills that were introduced shortly before the summer break.

Bill C-42, often referred to as the RCMP Accountability Act, is up for second reading debate starting on Monday.

Second reading debate will also begin on Bill C-37, called the Increasing Offenders Accountability for Victims Act.

This proposed legislation would see the Criminal Code increase and in some cases set minimum fines on convicted criminals which would go 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, called the  Preventing Persons from Concealing Their Identity during Riots and Unlawful Assemblies Act,  is at report stage.

Bill C-305, the National Public Transit Strategy Act, is at second reading.

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, legislation to amend the Income Tax Act concerning requirements for labour organizations.

And finally there will be Motion 312, which relates to studying Canada’s 400 year old definition of human being.”

That is a sampling of some of the parliamentary business we will be debating and discussing this week in Ottawa.

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