Politics

Liberals' election reform bill becomes law on last day of parliamentary sitting

The Liberal government’s electoral reform bill, C-76, is now law, having received royal assent today in the final day of the parliamentary sitting before the Christmas break.

Bill monitoring who comes and goes from Canada also becomes law

The Liberal government's bill reforming how elections are run in Canada is now law. (CBC)

After receiving royal assent today — the final day of the current parliamentary sitting before the Christmas break — the Liberal government's electoral reform bill, C-76, is now law.

The Trudeau government tabled C-76 last year. It limits the length of federal election campaigns, restricts the amount of spending allowed in the period immediately before a campaign, works to prevent foreign interference and introduces new rules to regulate third-party political activity.

On third parties, the bill would require them to use a dedicated Canadian bank account for payment of election-related spending. It also limits their spending on advertising, surveys and other election-related activities to $1 million in the two months before an election is called, and to $500,000 during the campaign.

Commissioner of Elections Yves Côté told CBC in October that Parliament needed to adopt C-76 by December to give him powers to fight foreign interference and social media abuse in the coming federal election, scheduled for October 2019.

"We have reached a critical moment now and, to me, I would say if this bill is not passed by December, we're going to be in a very, very difficult situation," he said.

Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault also called for C-76 to be adopted in short order to give him time to implement it during the next election.

Arms trade and border security

Other bills that were given royal assent today include C-21, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale more than two years ago.

The bill would implement an "entry/exit program" to keep track of when individual Canadians enter and leave the country — information that wasn't always collected in the past.

Bill C-47, the Act to Amend the Export and Import Permits Act, was also given royal assent. The act enables Canada to join the international Arms Trade Treaty — something the Liberals promised they would do during the 2015 election campaign.

And C-51 was made law Thursday. The act purges the Criminal Code of old, outdated laws — often referred to as "zombie laws" — and clarifies the Code when it comes to sexual assault law.

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