COLUMN: Passing legislation in a minority parliament

It is interesting to note that this minority Parliament is the 14th minority in Canadian history.

Many of Canada’s previous minority governments have lasted anywhere from one to two years, although some longer.

One reason why minority governments tend not to last relates to the efforts of the minority government to attempt to form a majority.

Why a majority?

Having a majority is how a government can fully implement its agenda.

In recent times majority governments typically see 75 to 80 per cent of all legislation put forward being passed.

Often this requires parliamentary tactics such as “time allocation” or “closure” to achieve this, however these are also legitimate parliamentary procedures.

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In minority government the success rate for passed legislation is much lower.

National Post columnist John Ivison recently observed that former Harper minority governments averaged under 50 per cent.

To date, there have not been any government bills defeated in our parliament, however the government did lose two opposition day motions.

One motion was to create the Canada/China review committee and most recently a motion to call on the Auditor General to review the Liberal government’s infrastructure spending plan in an effort to find out why there are delays in projects getting built.

On the subject of government bills introduced to date, I will give the Liberal government some credit for introducing legislation likely to get passed.

There have been just five government bills introduced. Two of these are operating bills such as appropriations and oaths of office.

Bill C-4, the Canada-United States-Mexico Agreement Implementation Act, and most recently Bill C-5, An Act to amend the Judges Act and the Criminal Code that parallels a former Private Member’s Bill from retired Conservative MP and interim Leader Rona Ambrose that calls for mandatory training for judges to help provide greater understanding for the impact of sexual assaults on victims.

The final one is Bill C-3, An Act to amend the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act and the Canada Border Services Agency Act and to make consequential amendments to other Acts, that proposes to create independent public complaints and review commission that will be merged with the current RCMP independent civilian review and complaints commission.

The intent of the review commission is to provide independent civilian review of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

While it is unclear if this proposed legislation will be successful, I believe that the intent to increase public accountability at the Canadian Border Services Agency is a long overdue and needed measure.

My question this week is, do you agree with Bill C-3 to create a merged independent civilian based review commission for the RCMP and Canadian Border Services Agency?

I can be reached at Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca or call toll free 1-800-665-8711.

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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