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Government Introduces Procedural Funny Business

This is the time of year when the House of Commons gets busy. Before rising for the summer, the NDP-Liberal government is pulling out all the stops to try and push through as much of their legislative agenda as possible. This, despite having a minority Parliament, is largely possible thanks to the Liberal union with the NDP. I will outline just a few bills and motions that this government is intending to pass. Some are flawed, but are likely to pass – even without proper debate – because the government has moved several motions called ‘time allocation’ and ‘closure’ on bills such as C-5 and C-11.

Time allocation is a motion that is intended to curtail debate. According to the House of Commons website, time allocation is defined as:

“[The time allocation rule] allows for specific periods of time to be set aside for the consideration of one or more stages of a public bill. The term “time allocation” suggests primarily the idea of time management but the government may use a time allocation motion as a guillotine. In fact, although the rule allows the government to negotiate with opposition parties on the adoption of a timetable for the consideration of a bill at one or more stages (including consideration in committee and the consideration of Senate amendments, it also allows the government to impose strict limits on the time for debate. This is why time allocation is often confused with closure. While it has become the most frequently used mechanism for curtailing debate, time allocation remains a means of bringing the parties together to negotiate an acceptable distribution of the time of the House.”

From this definition, you may understand why the opposition is not satisfied with the proceedings. On top of moving time allocation and closure, the NDP-Liberal Government passed a sweeping motion called M-11, which allows for extended sitting until midnight, allowing any cabinet member to adjourn the House until September, remove certain procedural tools from opposition, and arguably most importantly: disrupt crucial work done by many parliamentary committees.

And so, this is where we find ourselves coming into the busiest season of the parliamentary calendar.