As you may have heard, this week the House of Commons will resume sitting on Parliament Hill for what is expected to be another robust session of debate and discussion. Some of the already identified items on the projected order of business for this week include Government Bills C-48 and C-52. Bill C-48 is the “Technical Tax Amendment Act”. Over time tax amendments are often introduced by Government that make changes to various aspects of income tax and sales tax much as was done recently in Budget 2012. Ultimately these proposed tax amendments must be included within legislation and to date is has been well over 10 years since the Act was last updated thus creating a significant backlog. One of the benefits of a stable majority in the House is that these kind of technical tax amendment bills that are important to ensure the integrity of our tax system, were often neglected during the recent minority years of Liberal and Conservative governments. As this is more of a technical Bill it is not expected to be a controversial one and the tone of today's debate seemed to be generally supportive.
Bill C-52 “The Fair Rail Freight Service Act” is in response to recommendations made by the Rail Freight Service Review Panel. In summary, challenges can arise within sectors of the agricultural community in securing mutually supported agreements between shippers and railway companies. The lack of a successful agreement can serve as a barrier preventing producers from getting their goods to market in a manner that provides certainty. Bill C-52 proposes new incentives to help strengthen the agreement making process, specifically an arbitration process will be introduced in the event an agreement cannot be reached and monetary penalties can also be assessed if there are violations to an arbitrated agreement. I have spoken with constituents who are familiar with the Canadian rail system and were supportive of seeing these legislative changes. Much like Bill C-48, this is also a Bill that is not expected to be a controversial one, as the opposition parties at committee supported the legislation with no changes or amendments.
In addition to Government Bills, there will also be a number of Private Member’s Bill coming up for debate this week. Bill C-457 “An Act to Repeal the Clarity Act”, Bill C-452 “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), Bill C-425 “An Act to Amend the Citizenship Act”, Bill C-444 “An Act to Amend the Criminal Code”, Bill C-460 “Sodium reduction strategy for Canada” and finally Motion M-412 “Hydroelectric Project”. In addition to private members business, Parliamentary committees will also again be sitting throughout the week while House votes may be occurring Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Not occurring this week but later this session will be the introduction of a new budget, along with continued debate on the following topics where bills have already been introduced to the House of Commons: Enhancing Royal Canadian Mounted Police Accountability Act; the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act; the First Nations Financial Transparency Act; the Increasing Offender Accountability for Victims Act; the Northern Jobs and Growth Act; and the Safer Witnesses Act. If you have comments or concerns on any subject please do not hesitate to contact me at your convenience. As taxpayer’s your input is an important consideration for the work that we do in Ottawa and while we may not always reach agreement on issues of concern the importance of sharing views and exchanging information should never be overlooked.