44th Parliament Adjourns for the Summer

Status of Laws and Committee Hearings

– Barbara Biley –

The session of parliament that ended on June 23 saw eleven bills passed. Eight of the bills deal with funding for government programs and functioning. Six of the bills received Royal Assent on June 23, including the omnibus Budget Implementation Act, 2022, No. 1, Bill C-19. Besides legislation dealing with government funding, Bills C-14 (Preserving Provincial Representation in the House of Commons Act), C-28 (An Act to amend the Criminal Code (self-induced extreme intoxication) and S-10 (Anishinabek Nation Governance Agreement Act) were passed.

Government legislation on gun control, cyber security, the Canada Disability Benefit, and data privacy, have all been tabled in the House and will be on the agenda when the House reconvenes in September.

Matters of particular concern to Canadians because they relate to freedom of expression include Bill C-26, An Act respecting cyber security, amending the Telecommunications Act and making consequential amendments to other Acts which completed first reading on June 14. Bill C-26 provides the government with sweeping new powers including access to confidential information which it claims are needed "to direct" how critical infrastructure operators prepare for and respond to cyber attacks.

Through the new legislation, the government wants to hand additional responsibilities to the Canadian Security Establishment (CSE), "which is tasked with protecting government infrastructure and signals intelligence," Global News reported on June 14. Global News says the government wants to prohibit those companies from publicly disclosing anything about the directives issued by the federal government, "including the mere existence of any orders to beef up protections."

Under the new provisions, the government wants the power to compel cyber security action from a new category of what it calls "designated operators" working in four federally-regulated sectors: finance, telecommunications, energy, and transportation."

The Liberals have not yet fulfilled their promise to reintroduce Bill C-36, An Act to amend the Criminal Code and the Canadian Human Rights Act and to make related amendments to another Act (hate propaganda, hate crimes and hate speech) which died on the order paper when the election was called. Bill C-36 included an addition to the Canadian Human Rights Act that the government says will clarify the definition of hate speech and make online hate speech a form of discrimination. It is expected that some variant of Bill C-36 will be introduced in the fall along with legislation regulating the broader category of "online harms." The government has stated that it will take into consideration the recommendations of its Expert Advisory Group on Online Safety in preparing the legislation.

Other Matters Taken Up in this Session

Police clear Ottawa streets, February 19, 2022, following invoking of Emergencies Act.

Other major developments during this session of Parliament include the invocation of the Emergencies Act and the subsequent establishment of a Special Joint Committee for "Review of the Exercise of Powers and the Performance of Duties and Functions Pursuant to the Declaration of Emergency that was in Effect from Monday, February 14, 2022, to Wednesday, February 23, 2022."

The Review Committee gave its first report to the House on March 22. Hearings of the committee have been the subject of much media attention, particularly over the claim by Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino that the Emergencies Act was invoked on the recommendation of law enforcement while law enforcement witnesses have denied any request for the act.

A judicial inquiry headed by Justice Paul S. Rouleau, an Ontario Appeal Court judge, is also being conducted into the use of the Emergencies Act. The Prime Minister's Office says that they need until February 13, 2023 to decide whether to release records about the Freedom Convoy, the same month that the inquiry is to wrap up. This was all announced in response to a Global News request under Access to Information laws.

On March 14, Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, without consulting their caucuses or membership, entered into what was called a "historic agreement." They call it a "confidence and supply agreement," and finally made it public on March 21. Many NDP rank and file call it a "merger" and decry the fact that no one was consulted.

The agreement pledges NDP support for whatever the Liberal government does until the end of its current term in 2025. In return, Jagmeet Singh says the government introduced various NDP proposals in its budget, including dental care, a promise to pass a pharmacare bill by the end of 2023, funding for housing, the end of "inefficient" fossil-fuel subsidies by the end of 2023, 10 days of paid sick leave for workers in the federally regulated private sector, support for burial searches at residential school sites, taxes on "excess" profits of banks and insurance groups and a registry of the real names of owners of companies.

Above all else, the deal reveals that Canadians exercise no control over the decisions taken in their name, to the extent that even Liberal and NDP Members of Parliament and party members are left in the dark. In other words, the deal reveals the need for people's empowerment because the cartel party system and cartel party government are not under the people's control.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland appeared at the Toronto Star's Editorial Board on June 17, the day after she delivered a major speech on inflation to the Empire Club in Toronto -- a sorry vestige of colonial times if ever there was one. She revealed there the extent to which the agreement signed between NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau did nothing to fetter Liberal arrogance.

She was adamant that the Liberals already complied with their side of the bargain when they put NDP demands into budget 2022, such as dental care starting this year for children under 12 from low-income families and more housing "affordability" support, including a one-time $500 payment to eligible low-income renters.

"Those were good ideas. I'm glad that they are in the budget, I'm glad we're doing them. I think they're very appropriate for Canadians today," Freeland said. But, she told the Star, when it comes to which economic and political decisions need to be made "going forward, the government is a Liberal government. This is not a coalition."

"And so, you know, we will absolutely stick to our supply and confidence agreement with the NDP. I think that we kind of collectively have a good political working relationship with them and we're going to keep on building on that. But ultimately, it is our government, our party, that has responsibility for the government's key policies, including the finance portfolio."

Another indication of Liberal arrogance was revealed when the Auditor General presented four reports on May 30 which dealt with systemic barriers in correctional services, how to ensure hard-to-reach populations receive government supports to which they are entitled, processing of disability claims for veterans of the RCMP and military and 'gender based analysis plus' in government. She said that on these files she is more frustrated than hopeful at government inaction on previous decisions.

Also on May 30 the Arbour Report, the Independent External Comprehensive Review into Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment in the Department of National Defence and the Canadian Armed Forces, was released. The investigation revealed, in the words of the Public Service Alliance of Canada, "an unrelenting and sanctioned culture of misogyny, racism, and homophobia against women, LGBTQ2+, Indigenous, Black and racialized workers within Canada's armed forces creating an overwhelmingly difficult -- if not impossible -- environment to report abuse without fear of blame or retaliation."

Not unrelated is the revelation of large numbers of contracts given by departments and branches of government to private companies and organizations to conduct sensitivity training, spawning a veritable "anti-racism industry."

Notable non-legislative actions in the Parliament during this session include: government sanctions against Russia, military aid to Ukraine, special preferential treatment for Ukrainian refugees while the treatment of other refugees and migrant workers continues to be deplorable, calls for increased military spending, funding for renewal of NORAD and increased integration into the U.S. war economy, and pay-the-rich schemes to secure critical infrastructure and critical minerals, amongst other programs which are nation-wrecking and go against the interests of the people.

Parliament ended in an atmosphere of scandal with accusations against the Trudeau Liberals of interference in the Nova Scotia RCMP's investigation into the killing of 22 people April 18-19, 2020. The allegations of political interference are based on information provided to the Mass Casualty Commission, the public inquiry into the mass killings, in notes made by Nova Scotia RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell. The notes were made during a conference call with RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki on April 28 following an April 24, 2020 press conference.

In his notes, Campbell says that RCMP Commissioner Lucki expressed dissatisfaction with how the Nova Scotia RCMP were conducting their investigation. Specifically she wanted him to publicly release information on the guns used in the killings. Campbell had not released that information in the April 24 news conference and explained to Commissioner Lucki that to do so would jeopardize the investigation. She said that this was tied to pending gun control legislation and that she had promised the Minister of Public Safety and the Prime Minister's Office that the RCMP would release the information.

This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 7 - July 17, 2022

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