MP Report by Jay Hill, M.P.
“A Productive Week in the House of Commons”
I’ll be blunt. After enjoying last year, one of the most productive Parliamentary sessions in Canadian history in terms of legislation passed, and after serving with the longest-lasting minority Parliament in history, this “congested” session in the House of Commons has been VERY tough. But a lot can change in a week.
As Government House Leader, my job is to shepherd legislation through the House of Commons. It requires engaging the opposition parties in negotiation, cooperation, some compromise, and a huge dose of patience. Throughout this past week, it paid off.
The biggest pay off came with the passage of Bill C-9, our Conservative Government’s Jobs and Economic Growth legislation. The 2010 Budget, critical to Canada’s fragile economic recovery, is now being debated in the Senate on track to becoming law.
Another big win came with an agreement, following intense negotiations with the opposition parties, to pass certain aspects of Bill C-23, which our Conservative Government had introduced to eliminate pardons for those convicted of sex crimes.
It was urgent that we pressed upon the opposition the need to pass this legislation in order to ensure that no sexual predators, including Karla Holmolka, are able to apply for a pardon over the summer months!
Compromise was also the order of the day when working closely with the opposition parties to secure passage of Bill C-11. Our Government introduced this legislation to preserve the integrity of Canada’s refugee and immigration system. It will enhance fairness to refugees genuinely seeking shelter from conflict and oppression, yet crack down on those who attempt to jump the queue and play the system with bogus refugee claims.
And in yet a further compromise, all parties, with the exception of the New Democrats, signed a deal regarding the release of government documents related to the transfer of Afghan detainees, striking the balance between national security, the safety of our troops and Parliament’s right to examine information. Unfortunately, the NDP put partisanship before public interest and had organized to meet with the media to tell them they were rejecting the deal even before they had seen the final agreement.
It also took cooperation with the Liberals to overcome NDP resistance to the passage of Bill C-2, the Canada-Columbia Free Trade Agreement. After extensive debate and examination the legislation is now before the Senate. The agreement will provide greater access to a market of 45 million people for Canadian exporters of wheat, pulses, barley, paper products and heavy equipment. Colombia is also a strategic destination for Canadian investment, especially in mining, oil exploration, printing and education.
MPs also passed Bill, C-24, legislation that will help First Nations move forward with commercial developments and Bill C-13, Fairness for Military Families, which will enhance access to Employment Insurance benefits for our soldiers and their families. And finally, we passed Bill C-40, legislation to enact October 1st as National Seniors Day.