The Senate Christmas rush: bills pile up

The countdown is on, as Senators rush to deliver the government's wishlist from the red legislative workshop by Christmas.

Countdown is on to get government's wishlist through the red workshop by Christmas

Parliament Hill now glows with festive light, as Parliamentarians count down to the Christmas break. (Fred Chartrand/Canadian Press)

The Senate faces an ambitious to-do list of government legislation before Christmas, once the House of Commons passes each of the Conservatives' priority bills.

Chart the progress through the pre-holiday rush with regular updates here.

Status of priority legislation in the Senate

  • C-10 Safe Streets and Communities Act (omnibus crime bill): passed House of Commons Dec. 5, introduced and first reading in Senate Dec. 6 (amendments expected in Senate)
  • C-13 Keeping Canada's Economy and Jobs Growing Act (budget implementation bill): royal assent granted Dec. 15
  • C-18 Marketing Freedom for Grain Farmers Act (dismantling Canadian Wheat Board's single desk): royal assent granted Dec. 15
  • C-20 Fair Representation Act: royal assent granted Dec. 16

Timeline of the bills' progress

December 1:

C-18, the government's legislation to dismantle the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly over marketing Prairie wheat and barley, passes second reading in the Senate on a voice vote.

December 5:

C-10, the government's omnibus crime legislation, passes third reading in the House of Commons and heads for the Senate.

December 6:

C-10 is introduced and has first reading in the Senate.

December 7:

Despite previous indications that the government considered C-10 (omnibus crime legislation) urgent, Government Senate Leader Marjory LeBreton tells CBC News that she doesn't expect the Senate to pass the bill before Christmas, and the Senate committee's review of the measures could take "quite some time." LeBreton says that the Conservative campaign pledge to pass the bill within Parliament's first 100 sitting days actually means the Senate can take until mid-March to consider the legislation and still honour the pledge.

A Federal Court judge in Winnipeg finds that the Agriculture Minister Gerry Ritz broke the law when he introduced C-18. Ritz says that the government will proceed with the bill, and intends to appeal the decision.

December 8:

Two different questions of privilege are raised in the House of Commons and Senate over the appropriateness of proceeding with C-18, given the Dec. 7 Federal Court decision and the government's pending appeal. The Senate Speaker dismissed the question of privilege in the Senate.

Liberal Senators studying the legislation at the Senate agriculture committee also question and attempt to stall the legislation based on the court's findings. Conservative Senators push on and the bill's progress continues: notice for third reading is given for C-18, with a final vote scheduled for Thurs. Dec. 15.

The Senate finance committee completes its review of C-13 and reports back to the Senate.

December 12:

C-13 begins debate at third reading in the Senate and passes third reading.

C-18 passes clause-by-clause review in the Senate agriculture committee without any amendments, reports back to the Senate in the evening. Report stage concludes later the same evening, with third reading scheduled to begin mid-afternoon on Tuesday, Dec.13.

December 14:

Senate standing committee on legal and constitutional affairs begins two days of extended sitting hours to consider C-20.

December 15:

Senate passes C-18 at third reading by a vote of 51 to 33, with one abstention, at 5:30 p.m. Royal assent ceremony takes place at Rideau Hall at 6:17 p.m. and is read into the Senate just after 6:40 p.m.

C-13 also receives royal assent during the same ceremony in the Senate, as does an appropriation bill, C-29.

C-20 reports back to the Senate from committee, unamended.

December 16:

Senate passes C-20 on division at third reading and royal assent granted by Supreme Court Justice Marie Deschamps just after noon.