Politics

New bills are Conservatives' 'framework' for election, Peter Van Loan says

In his session-ending press conference, Government Leader Peter Van Loan says the Conservatives would welcome proposals from the provinces for Senate reform or abolition of the Senate.
The government has introduced a range of new bills in the last two weeks of Parliament. 1:30

The Harper government says a series of bills introduced in the dying days of the current session of Parliament aren't intended to become law until after the expected October election.

Even today, a week before the Commons is expected to rise for the summer, Defence Minister Jason Kenney is tabling a bill aimed at protecting victims' rights in the military justice system.

Government House Leader Peter Van Loan says the bills were tabled to give Canadians an idea of what to expect from the Conservatives, should they be returned to power.

Van Loan made the comments at a news conference today, where he outlined the government's accomplishments over the last few months and warned against the agendas put forward by the opposition New Democrats and Liberals.

The Harper government has stuffed the legislative pipeline with newly introduced bills in the last two weeks, ranging from a new national marine conservation area for Lake Superior, to motor vehicle safety amendments, copyright changes and new mandatory minimum sentences for gun crime.

Van Loan said more legislation is likely to be introduced before the scheduled end of the session.

And he said it's expected there won't be a sitting in September before the writ is issued for a general election.

Senate reform

One of the issues likely up for debate during the campaign is Senate reform — once a major plank in previous elections when the Conservatives pledged to either transform the upper chamber or abolish it.

I can assure you that if we were to see an initiative from the provinces that matched ours on either reform or an abolition, I would expect we would respond to that- Peter Van Loan

Since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that any significant changes to the Senate would require the approval of the provinces, the Harper government has all but given up that fight.

Van Loan said the Conservatives would welcome proposals from the provinces for changes.

"I can assure you that if we were to see an initiative from the provinces that matched ours on either reform or an abolition, I would expect we would respond to that," he said.

The New Democrats under Tom Mulcair have vowed to work with the provinces to abolish the Senate, should they form a government.

Several provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have said they oppose abolition.

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