Fall Session brings both discussion and analysis of issues. In light of the recent announcement that the BC Legislature would not hold a fall session I wanted to take the opportunity to define what and how a “sitting” functions on a weekly basis at the House of Commons in Ottawa. When the House of Commons is sitting during a typical week on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays, debate will begin at 11 AM and does not normally adjourn until 7 PM. On Wednesday each caucus meets in the morning typically from 8 or 9 AM until noon while debate in the House begins at 2 PM concluding again at 7 PM. On Friday’s, debate is moved up and starts at 10 AM and typically concludes at 2 PM allowing MP’s more time to return to their home ridings. Also occurring are regular meetings Monday through Thursday for Parliamentary Committees. There are currently 28 Parliamentary Committees (not including Senate or joint Senate House of Commons committees) who will typically meet twice weekly for a two hour session during each meeting. These meetings usually occur anywhere from 8:30-10:10:30 for the morning session and 3:30-5:30 for the afternoon session and always on different days of the week.
Parliamentary committees are made up from MP’s representing all parties and typically most MP’s (who are not in cabinet) will sit on two committees. Currently I am serving on one of the two joint Senate and House of Commons Committees that in the case of my committee, scrutinizes government regulations while the other joint committee pertains to the Library of Parliament. I have also recently been appointed to serve on the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights, prior to this appointment I served on the standing committee on the Status of Women. It is also not uncommon for Members of Parliament to have scheduling conflicts from time to time so there are opportunities to cover other members committee meetings. Generally when my schedule permits I volunteer to sit in on other committees as it is a valuable experience to keep informed on some of the many issues of importance that are before the House and are under study. Often when I call constituents in order to discuss their concerns, they regularly ask questions that are being examined in depth by committees and so I find my time substituting for other members to be well spent as these constituents are glad to hear that many of these complex issues are receiving the in depth analysis they deserve.
This week in Ottawa there will be second reading debate on two Government Bills. Bill C43, the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act. It proposes to speed up the process to remove convicted criminals from Canada by limiting appeals options that can add as much as an additional 14 months or more before a criminal can be deported. In addition there will also be increased penalties and greater Ministerial discretion in dealing with those individuals who cheat the immigration system.
The other Bill up for debate this week is second reading of Bill C-15 “Strengthening Military Justice in the Defence of Canada Act”. This Bill proposes a series of amendments to the National Defence Act that pertain to the military justice system. There will also be two Senate sponsored Bills up for second reading debate this week, Bill S-2 “Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act” and also Bill S-8 “Safe Drinking Water for First Nations Act”. Aside from debate, there will also be votes on Private Members Bills C-350 ”An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act” and on Bill C-293 that also proposes to amend the “the Corrections and Conditional Release Act” from vexatious complaints. Motion 312 will also be voted on this week that pertains to “Studying Canada's 400 Year Old Definition of Human Being”.
The topic of MP pension plan reform has also been widely discussed on Parliament Hill over the past few weeks and I would like to re-affirm my position that I will be voting in support of changes to the MP pension plan that are more respectful of taxpayers. I publicly voiced my support for these changes last year and while I was one of the few to do so publicly at that time there are increasingly more Members of Parliament who are now voicing similar support for these changes.
If you would like more information on any Bills or motions before Parliament or would like to share your own views please do so at your convenience. Your input is very much needed and appreciated.
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan-Coquihalla and can be reached at [email protected] or by phone 1(800) 665-8711.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.