The first session of the 38th Parliament of Canada - the first parliament in 25 years in which one party has not controlled a majority of the seats - has considered more than 70 pieces of legislation. By the time the House took a week off for the Remembrance Day break, it had passed about half of them.
Almost three dozen bills remained on the order paper on Nov. 9, 2005, when NDP Leader Jack Layton said he would introduce a motion on Nov. 24 calling for a February election. As well, a number of key spending measures still had to be dealt with. Here's a list of some of Parliament's unfinished business.
Tougher impaired driving law
C-16: An act to amend the Criminal Code (impaired driving). This legislation would expand drug enforcement capabilities by giving police the authority to demand physical sobriety tests and bodily fluid samples when they suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs. As a first step police would be authorized to administer field sobriety tests if they suspect someone is driving under the influence of drugs. Legislation received first reading on Nov. 1, 2004.
C-17: An act to amend the Contraventions Act and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. If passed, the legislation would impose fines instead of jail sentences in cases where people are caught with small amounts of marijuana. Possession would no longer be a criminal offence. The bill was introduced and received first reading on Nov. 1, 2004, and was referred the next day to the standing committee on justice, human rights, public safety and emergency preparedness.
C-19: An act to Amend the Competition Act. The legislation - introduced on Nov. 2, 2004 - includes provisions for higher penalties against companies that engage in anti-competitive behaviour, especially when that company holds a dominant position in the marketplace.
C-21: Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. The legislation's primary purposes are to modernize and improve corporate governance and accountability in NPCs, eliminate unnecessary regulation, and offer flexibility to meet the needs of the non-profit sector. Current legislation governing not-for-profit corporations has been relatively unchanged since 1917. Legislation was introduced on Nov. 15, 2004, and referred to committee on Nov. 23, 2004.
More powers for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency
C-27: The Canadian Food Inspection Agency Enforcement Act. The bill is intended to consolidate, modernize and enhance the existing inspection and enforcement powers of the CFIA for food, agricultural and aquatic commodities (meat, fish, agricultural products), agricultural inputs (seed, feed and fertilizer), animals and plants. It was introduced on Nov. 26, 2004.
Cruelty to animals
C-50: An Act to amend the Criminal Code in respect of cruelty to animals. There have been several attempts to update animal cruelty laws over the past several years. None has succeeded. This latest legislation would make it illegal to "brutally or viciously kill" animals, raise the penalty for cruelty to animals to five years from six months, and allow for a lifetime ban on the ownership of animals for people convicted under the act. The legislation received first reading on May 16, 2005.
C-60: An Act to Amend the Copyright Act, was introduced on June 20, 2005. Under the changes, making a CD for personal use would remain legal. However, a so-called "make available" clause would criminalize putting songs into shared online directories such as Kazaa or BitTorrent. The amended law would also exempt internet service providers from copyright liability. They will, however, be required to establish a new warning system, called "notice and notice," a service they currently provide informally.
It would allow rights holders to issue warnings through the ISP to users about alleged sharing of copyrighted material.
As well as the above legislation, Parliament was scheduled to vote on several spending measures on Dec. 8. They include:
A $220-million increase in Old Age Security payments and guaranteed income supplement payments.
A $100-million program to compensate farmers for the mad cow crisis.
A $6-billion transfer to the provinces to cover health and education costs.
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