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RCO





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PostPosted: Fri Mar 10, 2017 1:58 pm    Post subject: House to look at ending Friday sittings Reply with quote

( the federal government has released a discussion paper on modernizing the house of commons , mostly focuses on question period but one idea that stands out is the Friday sittings . and the possibility they could be ended so mp's can spend more time in there ridings )


Government House Leader releases discussion paper on the modernization of the House of Commons

News Release

From Privy Council Office


Ottawa, Ontario, March 10, 2017 – Today, the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the Honourable Bardish Chagger, released a discussion paper on how to modernize the rules of the House of Commons.

The paper contains ideas on how to modernize the House to make it more accountable, predictable, efficient and transparent. Our government wishes to improve the tenor and quality of legislative debate and to make the House a place where MPs from all parties can best perform their duties on behalf of constituents.

Our government will ask the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to consider these ideas in the context of its ongoing study of the Standing Orders. The government looks forward to the discussions to be held by that committee.

The paper suggests three themes for reform:

•Management of the House:

◦Electronic voting in the Commons.
◦Discouraging governments from abusing prorogation.
◦Examine the effectiveness of Friday sittings against the demands of constituency work.


•Management of Debate:

◦Replacing time allocation with a model that provides more predictability and improves the scrutiny of legislation.
◦Reforming Question Period so that cabinet ministers, including the Prime Minister, are held to greater account.
◦Examine speech time limits and rotations to ensure more MPs are able to participate in debates.


•Management of Committees:

◦Make committees more inclusive by ensuring that independent MPs are able to more fully participate in the important work of committees.
◦Improving the productivity of committees by ensuring that debate and decisions are taken in an orderly fashion.


Quotes


“Sensible reforms will serve to modernize this House to bring it into the 21st century and to make it more relevant, transparent and accountable to Canadians.”

The Honourable Bardish Chagger, Leader of the Government in the House of Commons


Associated Links
• Discussion Paper: Reforming the Standing Orders of the House of Commons

Contacts

Mark Kennedy
Director of Communications
Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
613-947-6769

Sabrina Atwal
Press Secretary
Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons
613-866-7438

https://www.canada.ca/en/leader-government-house-commons/news/2017/03/government_houseleaderreleasesdiscussionpaperonthemodernizationo.html
RCO





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PostPosted: Sat Mar 11, 2017 8:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liberals’ new parliamentary reform plan angers Tories, NDP


Bill Curry

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail


Published Friday, Mar. 10, 2017 7:44PM EST



The Liberal government is proposing major changes to the way Parliament functions, including limiting the delay powers of opposition MPs, allowing electronic voting and ending Friday sittings.

Government House leader Bardish Chagger released the proposals in a discussion paper Friday afternoon as MPs headed home for a break week, arguing that it is time to recalibrate the balance of power between the government’s duty to pass legislation and the opposition’s right to be heard.

“We really need to bring the House of Commons into the 21st century,” said Ms. Chagger in an interview. The minister said the changes are aimed at making Parliament more predictable and productive.

Opposition MPs immediately slammed the proposals, warning that it would curb their ability to challenge the government.

The proposals echo some of the Parliamentary reform promises made by the Liberals during the election campaign. They include changes to the daily Question Period by having one day a week where the Prime Minister answers all of the questions, as is the case in Britain. Ms. Chagger said the committee should debate whether the Prime Minister should also attend Question Period on other days.

However, the Liberals have already made two failed attempts since the election to change the House of Commons rules. Last May, the government withdrew a controversial motion that would have given it new powers to limit debate. Also last year, a study by the Procedure and House Affairs committee aimed at making Parliament more “family friendly” held hearings on the idea of eliminating Friday sittings but found no consensus for a change. That same committee is being asked to consider the government’s latest proposals. A Liberal motion has circulated that proposed that the committee complete its review by June 2.

Ms. Chagger suggests in her letter that in lieu of Friday sittings, the House of Commons could add more sitting days in January, June and September.

Concern from the opposition Friday focused on changes that would limit the ability of opposition MPs to delay legislation in the House or in committee with long speeches known as filibusters. One section of Ms. Chaggar’s letter recommends limiting speeches in committee to 10 minutes.

“Committees can, at times, become dysfunctional,” she wrote. “The principle of deliberations in the House and in committees should be to engage in substantive debate on the merit of an issue, not to engage in tactics which seek only to undermine and devalue the important work of Parliament.”

Conservative deputy house leader MP Chris Warkentin said his party will strongly oppose changes that limit the ability of MPs to challenge the government.

“The idea that they would suggest that MPs bringing the concerns of their constituents forward is somehow an unacceptable use of time for the House of Commons is absolutely reprehensible,” he said. “To remove those opportunities is really an abuse of power and something that we will definitely oppose.”

Mr. Warkentin said his party will not support the elimination of Friday sittings. He said the government appears to be using calls for improved work-life balance as an excuse for limiting accountability.

“We believe MPs should work five days a week, and frankly it’s the experience of most of us that we work seven days a week,” he said. “I know that there’s a lot of Canadians that would suggest that if the Liberals wanted to do less work or if they don’t like the job that they’ve been elected to do, that there might be somebody else who would replace these members of Parliament.”

NDP MP Ian Rankin said the Liberal proposals would be a setback for Canadian democracy that would limit the opposition’s powers to hold the government to account.

“We do look forward to a healthy debate on this discussion paper, even if it appears healthy debate may be severely restricted around here in the future,” he said in a statement.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com.....e34274348/
RCO





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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tories accuse Liberals of ‘ramming through whatever the f— they want’ to make changes to House procedure



Marie-Danielle Smith | March 21, 2017 6:32 PM ET
More from Marie-Danielle Smith
.
Government House Leader Bardish Chagger responds to a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday, March 20, 2017.



OTTAWA — Opposition parties slammed the Liberal government on Tuesday for trying to “ram through” major changes to how the House of Commons does its business.

With little notice, the Liberals moved Tuesday to have the Procedure and House Affairs committee study major changes to standing orders put forward by Liberal House leader Bardish Chagger, giving a tight June deadline and offering no indication that they wouldn’t use a majority to impose changes to House rules without opposition consent.

The long list of items for study includes: halting House sittings on Fridays; only requiring the prime minister to be in question period one day a week; introducing electronic voting and restricting opposition parties’ ability to filibuster bills in committee.

Liberals are trying to “ram through whatever the f— they want,” Conservative MP Scott Reid said in a rare outburst. He called maneuvers “despicable,” a “tissue of lies,” and a “contemptible abuse of our system,” calling the prime minister an “arrogant, selfish, rude individual” for trying to steamroll all opposition.


How the hell is that fair? How does that come anywhere near what you promised in the campaign?
.
His colleague Blake Richards said the Liberals’ attempt to use the committee to push changes through is “disgusting and pathetic.”

In an unusual move Tuesday, Liberals repeatedly blocked opposition attempts to delay the motion, including extending the committee meeting — which was otherwise supposed to be hearing from Elections Canada officials, who were dismissed — well beyond its scheduled time. The committee was still sitting by the time question period began Wednesday.

NDP MP David Christopherson made much ado about the fact opposition MPs were not given the time to bring the Liberals’ proposals to a caucus meeting — the next one is Wednesday — and asked if debate could at least be delayed until the committee’s next meeting on Thursday.


THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean KilpatrickConservative MP Scott Reid asks a question during question period in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday, June 2, 2016..

As debate extended into question period, without reaching a vote, Christopherson heckled, “you clowns think you can pull this off? Really?”

“This is not a good day for Liberal promises,” he shouted earlier. The Liberals had promised to work more collaboratively and openly with other parties, but instead are trying to use their majority to change rules that will have a major effect all members of parliament, he said. “How the hell is that fair? How does that come anywhere near what you promised in the campaign?”

According to the Liberal motion presented Tuesday by MP Scott Simms, the government wants a witness list within seven days and a report, complete with recommendations, by June. Meanwhile, Democratic Institutions minister Karina Gould has asked the same committee to fast-track another study, on electoral reform, to inform fall legislation.

Because of the committee’s workload, the understanding is that if the motion passes, extra meetings will have to be scheduled to accomplish the work. Some previous studies have already touched on the matters Chagger wants to address.
.
MPs on the committee couldn’t come to a consensus last summer on the idea of ending Friday sittings, for example, to make the House more “family-friendly” for MPs with kids.

Reid suggested a special committee could be struck to discuss the long list of proposals. Under Liberal prime minister Jean Chrétien, a special committee looked at similar issues and unanimous consent, among all parties, was required to recommend changes.

The committee continued sitting well into the evening as debate continued over the motion, as well as an amendment Reid brought forward that would require recommendations to be unanimously supported by members. It was not clear whether the matters would be brought to a vote Tuesday night or not.

If the government struck a special committee this time, it also could include members from the Green Party and Bloc Québécois who are concerned with how rules affect smaller parties, Reid said.

A senior Liberal official reached by the National Post said they were unable to offer an answer on the unanimity question, one way or the other, and that the government had not looked at the possibility of a special committee.

The government’s intention, the official said, is to put ideas for modernization on the table. It’s a priority for Chagger and “she wants to get the debate going.” The paper says the government wants standing orders to be “meaningfully deliberated upon.”

Hammered on the Liberals’ tactics during question period, even as Reid filibustered the committee with lengthy diatribes on the merits of parliamentary procedure, Chagger said, “we believe that these conversations are important conversations to have.”

“We made a commitment to modernize this place, and to bring it into the 21st century,” she said. “That is what the discussion paper is about.”

It’s not the first time the Trudeau government has angered the opposition over procedural maneuvers. Last May, the government backed down from a motion that would have enhanced ministers’ control over debate, after opposition parties cried foul and the prime minister got caught up in “elbowgate.”

http://news.nationalpost.com/n.....-procedure
Progressive Tory





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PostPosted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with ending Friday sittings. Nobody of real importance shows up to QP, one journalist I follow has routinely said "bring on the B team" when referring to Friday QP.

Newfoundland and Labrador got rid of the House sitting on Friday's years ago. It can take a long time to get to many of the districts in NL so they got rid of them so MHAs could get a few days home and with their constituents.

Get rid of Friday sittings and add a few extra weeks to the parliamentary calendar to make up the difference, if needed.
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Liberal bid to force changes to House rules sparks committee showdown

NDP likens move to a declaration of ‘war’


Kady O'Malley

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017



A battle over a proposed reform of parliamentary rules has ground a parliamentary committee to a halt, with no clear end in sight.

Shortly after 3 a.m., the House affairs committee suspended proceedings until noon on Wednesday after a marathon-length session that began on Tuesday morning.

The protest from Conservative and NDP MPs comes days after the government house leader assured iPolitics that she fully respects the right of a House committee to analyze her proposed rewrite of the Commons rulebook.

Instead, Liberal members on that committee used their majority Tuesday to force a showdown with the opposition over a motion that...


http://ipolitics.ca/2017/03/21.....-showdown/
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 7:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Opposition MPs filibuster House Affairs Committee over Trudeau government’s ‘despicable attempt’ to change way House works


Members of the Procedure and House Affairs Committee are in the in midst of a filibuster spurred by the opposition and prolonged by the government over voting on the Liberal motion to expedite the study on changes to the House rules.


NDP MP David Christopherson, Conservative MP Scott Reid, and Liberal MP Scott Simms. There is a filibuster underway at the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on Mr. Simms' motion to have the committee expedite a study on the Standing Orders. The Hill Times Photograph by Jake Wright



By RACHEL AIELLO


PUBLISHED : Tuesday, March 21, 2017 2:05 PM



PARLIAMENT HILL—Opposition MPs were filibustering the Procedure and House Affairs Committee on the Hill on Tuesday for more than three hours over what Conservative MP Scott Reid called a “despicable attempt” by the government to ram through sweeping new changes to how the House of Commons operates, including even when it sits.

Mr. Reid’s (Lanark-Frontenac-Kingston, Ont.) made the comment at about two hours in to the filibuster. He said the way the government is going about forcing the vote to change the Standing Orders, or House rules, is a “contemptible abuse” of the system.

But Mr. Reid also said the Liberals were going to ram through “whatever the fuck they want,” and then quickly apologized for his language.

Liberal MP Scott Simms (Coast of Bays-Central-Notre Dame, Nfld.), a member of the House Affairs Committee, introduced the controversial motion calling for the committee to complete a study and issue recommendations on possible changes to the Standing Orders by June 2, 2017.


The Liberals have a majority on the committee and want to vote in support of the motion, which is strongly aligned in its wording with the March 10 ‘discussion paper’ from Government House Leader Bardish Chagger (Waterloo, Ont.) on potential reforms to the way the House operates, including introducing electronic voting, removing Friday sittings, and changing how opposition days and private members’ bills are handled.

But after the opposition requested that the committee deal with Mr. Simms’ motion at Thursday’s committee meeting so the opposition MPs could consult with their caucus colleagues was denied by the Liberals on the committee, Mr. Reid took up and led a filibuster, and managed to talk out the clock on the committee’s scheduled time.

Once the meeting was supposed to end at 1 p.m., opposition MPs tried to adjourn in an effort to push the vote on the motion to Thursday’s meeting, but the Liberal MPs, led by Liberal MP and deputy Government House leader Arnold Chan (Scarborough-Agincourt, Ont.), denied unanimous consent, however, Liberal MP Larry Bagnell (Yukon), chair of the committee, ruled the committee needed unanimous consent in order to adjourn. And the committee has been in this parliamentary procedural standoff since 11:30 a.m. EST.

“This is from on high. This is directly from the Prime Minister’s office,” said NDP MP and committee member David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), who called the Liberal procedural move “a joke.”


Conservative MP Blake Richards (Banff-Airdrie, Alta.), another member of the committee, said the Liberals are attempting to “force through” changes that will benefit the governing Liberals and will them less accountable to Canadians.

“Frankly it’s disgusting and pathetic,” Mr. Richards said at committee.

Mr. Simms’ motion calls for the committee to, if needed, meet outside its regular scheduled committee sitting hours in order to complete the study on a wide range of potential House reforms and proposes that the study to be completed by June 2, ahead of the House’s scheduled summer break on June 23, according to a copy of the letter sent to The Hill Times by Mr. Simms’ office.

Mr. Simms’ motion also asks for the study to be divided into three themes: management of debate, management of the House and its sittings, and management of committees. They are nearly identical to the three main themes in Ms. Chagger’s discussion paper, which included changing the Standing Orders.


The opposition MPs, throughout the ongoing meeting have continued to level allegations that Mr. Simms’ motion was not done on his own initiative and rather was a direction from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s (Papineau, Que.) office, which Mr. Simms denied, saying “my direction came from experience.”

In addition to touching on some of the reforms first brought up as part of the October 2016 House-wide day of debate on the Standing Orders that routinely happens early in each new Parliament, Ms. Chagger in her discussion paper floated some other changes that touch on her mandated responsibilities to reform Question Period, such as ending the use of omnibus bills and unnecessary prorogation, strengthening committees, and making the Commons more family-friendly.

Mr. Chagger’s paper also proposes tools be put in place to stop filibustering at committees, extending the deadline for written questions to 65 days from 46 days, improving the predictability in the scheduling of House time for government bills in order to avoid using time allocation and ways to split up omnibus bills.

The committee was suspended at about 3:15 p.m. EST for a House vote and was supposed to meet again.

http://www.hilltimes.com/2017/.....way/100494
cosmostein





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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 9:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Friday sittings have always been a wasteland;
Its a travel day for many MPs

I agree with PTs concept to simply extend the Parliamentary Calendar and be done with it.

However;
Is amazing that with this motion and M-103 we are seemingly done discussing Liberal MP spending and Electoral Reform?

What an effective way to turn the page and have the opposition do so.
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 10:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Progressive Tory wrote:
I agree with ending Friday sittings. Nobody of real importance shows up to QP, one journalist I follow has routinely said "bring on the B team" when referring to Friday QP.

Newfoundland and Labrador got rid of the House sitting on Friday's years ago. It can take a long time to get to many of the districts in NL so they got rid of them so MHAs could get a few days home and with their constituents.

Get rid of Friday sittings and add a few extra weeks to the parliamentary calendar to make up the difference, if needed.



I don't disagree that the Friday sittings are losing importance and having a discussion as to if they should continue is not unreasonable

however one really has a harder time to justify the other proposed changes and a possible reason for them now ?

but I don't see this issue getting the average Canadian too interested , the parliamentary rules and procedures are something that only mp's and political nerds would pay any attention to , I've seen some tory mp's try and raise an issue of it online but it be tough to get the public interested
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cosmostein wrote:
Friday sittings have always been a wasteland;
Its a travel day for many MPs

I agree with PTs concept to simply extend the Parliamentary Calendar and be done with it.

However;
Is amazing that with this motion and M-103 we are seemingly done discussing Liberal MP spending and Electoral Reform?

What an effective way to turn the page and have the opposition do so.



these changes also resemble moves Ontario premier Dalton Mcguinty made when he was early in his first term around 2004 or so ?

its been so long no one remembers that we used to have question period in the afternoon here , for some reason the liberals moved it to the morning . it was speculated at the time , they did it so question happened earlier in the day and wasn't as close to 6 pm news and so less likely to made the news at 6 pm

but whatever reasons they moved it was clearly cause they felt it was in the liberal governments best interest to make the opposition less relevant

it should also be noted many of the people in Dalton mcguinty's inner circle are now in Justin trudeau's inner circle so I see a connection to what he did back then and what is happening now
RCO





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PostPosted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Don Martin: Liberals try to rush rule changes to benefit themselves



CTV Power Play Host Don Martin
Don Martin, Power Play Host

@DonMartinCTV
.
Published Thursday, March 23, 2017 6:52PM EDT
Last Updated Thursday, March 23, 2017 9:03PM EDT

Conservative bellyaching which insists the Trudeau government gets a coddled ride from an adoring media is invariably baseless and increasingly tiresome.

But there are exceptions.

Had the Harper government pushed to radically change the way the House of Commons operates in the same full-throttle way Liberals are rushing it forward now, thundering newspaper editorials would’ve condemned the former prime minister for being on a control freak rampage.


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Markham

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joins Mary Ng, right, to greet residents of the Mon Sheong Court Senior Home in Markham, Ont., Thursday, March 23, 2017. (Christopher Katsarov / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

It’s a revolutionary step on many fronts and the only support comes from the majority Liberals, whose leader stands to gain the most.

Yet so far in the media…..crickets.

The proposed plan would limit the prime minister’s difficult exposure to opposition questions to just one hour per week.

It would also eliminate the half-day Friday sitting to give MPs more time in their ridings.

And it would replace the historic, but time-consuming, standing vote by MPs in favor of an electronic button push.

I’ll spare you the other inside-baseball initiatives, but it’s fair to say most ideas have successful precedent elsewhere, or merit, and may well have quiet opposition support.

But this isn’t a routine vote on just any old snoozy budget which will quickly be forgotten, and by that I mean yesterday’s yawn-inducing budget in particular.

It’s a revolutionary change to alter the way MPs have worked in Ottawa for 150 years.

That makes it personal to all 338 MPs. And they’re taking the heavy-handed treatment personally, at least on the opposition benches.

Their fury in Question Period on Wednesday was as toxic as anything unleashed during the Harper era.

The budget speech was delayed by half an hour as MPs seethed and a committee studying the plan sat late into the night to prevent a Liberal-ramming vote.

Now, acting unilaterally out of selfie-interest isn’t entirely out of character for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

After all, he killed his signature promise to change the way Canadians vote, partly because it didn’t offer his party any electoral advantage.

Now Trudeau’s pushing to change the way the Commons votes, partly because it limits him to one question period of opposition attack per week.

But to rush ahead on Liberal-only proposals without obtaining all-party agreement or allowing MPs to vote freely on changing their working conditions is unfair.

It suggests parliamentary democracy is being modelled more for elite Liberal advantage than general Commons efficiency.

That’s the Last Word.

http://www.ctvnews.ca/politics.....-1.3338310
Bugs





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PostPosted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am always suspicious of these kinds of actions, but I don't have any basis from which to judge. But what strikes me. Justin and most of his cabinet is off, using the budget as an opportunity to campaign in favour of deficits.

They are using the House of Commons as a PR stage, where they launch their document, and then answer questions from the media. They are going around Parliament! It's going to be a joke -- three or four senior ministers are off, along with Justin himself, to move into the limelight.

Without telling us, they are telling us that they don't think Parliament means much.
RCO





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PostPosted: Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( this standoff hasn't generated a lot of attention but is still on going with no solution in sight , liberals have decided to go mean and go after the opposition with changes they knew that they wouldn't like or support , its like there the spoiled rich kid who has everything but decides its not enough and bullies the kid next door who has little at all because they did something that upset them at some point in the past )


No deal (yet): Standoff over House rules continues at committee



Kelsey Johnson and Kady O'Malley

Wednesday, April 5th, 2017



Opposition parties put forward two different proposals Wednesday aimed at ending an ongoing dispute and committee filibuster over proposed changes to the rules of the House that has lasted more than 20 hours.

The Bloc Quebecois put forward a proposal Wednesday afternoon asking for a special committee similar to the one created to look at electoral reform. That committee format would have allowed members from all parties, including the Green Party and Bloc, to participate in the debate.

The Bloc’s suggestion did not receive unanimous consent from the House and has been defeated.

Meanwhile, in a letter to Liberal House Leader Bardish Chagger,...

http://ipolitics.ca/2017/04/05.....committee/
RCO





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PostPosted: Sun Apr 30, 2017 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

( quietly on a sunday night of all times , the liberals have come out and appear to be abandoning some of the proposed changes and only moving forward on some less controversial ones )


Trudeau Liberals drop contentious proposals for reforming House rules


Joan Bryden


OTTAWA — The Canadian Press


Published Sunday, Apr. 30, 2017 8:27PM EDT


The Trudeau government is backing down from some of its most controversial proposals for reforming the way the House of Commons operates in the face of opposition filibustering that has tied parliamentary business in knots for weeks.

Government House leader Bardish Chagger has written to her opposition counterparts, announcing that she intends to proceed with only those reforms promised in the Liberal election platform — including having the prime minister answer all queries in one question period each week, as Justin Trudeau has already begun doing.

Chagger is dropping other more contentious proposals, which opposition parties have unanimously denounced as a bid by the Liberals to control the parliamentary agenda and hamstring their efforts to hold the government to account.

That includes a proposal to adopt the British practice to use “programming motions” to set in advance the amount of time to be devoted to debate and committee study of each bill introduced in the Commons.

Also being abandoned is a proposal to limit MPs’ speeches during committee hearings to 10 minutes, short-circuiting their ability to filibuster.

However, Chagger warns in her letter that without those reforms the government will be forced instead to impose time allocation to limit debate and get legislation passed.

“Canadians elected us to deliver an ambitious agenda, so it is with regret, but full transparency, that I want to inform you that, under the circumstances, the government will need to use time allocation more often in order to implement the real change we promised,” she says.

Chagger is also dropping a proposal to test electronic voting, rather than forcing MPs to stand in the Commons for all votes.

And she’s deferring a proposal to eliminate sparsely-attended, half-day Friday sittings of the Commons, asking opposition parties to consult their respective MPs on the idea of reallocating the time now spent on Fridays to other days or weeks in the parliamentary calendar.

Almost from the moment Chagger proposed the reforms in a discussion paper released in early March, opposition parties have been expressing outrage over what they described as a power grab by a dictatorial prime minister.

The discussion paper was sent to the procedure and House affairs committee, where a Liberal MP’s motion to study it and report back with recommendations by June 2 set off a days-long filibuster, which eventually spilled over into the House of Commons, where opposition parties used procedural manoeuvres to delay tabling of the budget, among other things.

Chagger’s retreat comes as the Commons prepares to resume Monday after a two-week break. The government is hoping to get back to business-as-usual and avoid a last-minute crush of frantic legislative activity before Parliament breaks for the summer in mid-June.

The reforms left on the table are among the least controversial. They include:

— Empowering the Speaker to allow separate votes and committee studies on different sections of omnibus bills, in which dozens of unrelated legislative changes are crammed into one massive bill.

— Requiring the government, at the first sitting following prorogation of Parliament, to issue a report explaining its reasons for proroguing, with that report then subject to committee study and Commons debate. That is aimed at forcing the government to publicly account for its action if it prorogues to avoid politically difficult situations — such as former prime minister Stephen Harper’s 2008 decision to prorogue to avoid a confidence vote.

— Changing the schedule for release of spending estimates so that they reflect measures included in the annual federal budget.

— Dedicating one question period each week to grilling the prime minister. Chagger has promised Trudeau won’t use that as an excuse to skip other question periods, which should help blunt initial opposition criticism of this proposal. In any event, Trudeau has already started implementing it.

The surviving proposals were promised in the Liberals’ 2015 election platform and were meant to address perceived abuses by Harper’s Conservative government.

“These commitments directly responded to the abuse of Parliament by Stephen Harper and his Conservative government,” Chagger says in her letter.

“We will not give the Conservative party a veto on the promises we made to Canadians.”

The New Democrats say they’re still not satisfied with the changes the Liberals are proposing.

“They have just announced that they will be unilaterally forcing through changes to the way our Parliament works, largely just to suit themselves,” NDP House leader Murray Rankin said Sunday night.

“For the past few weeks, the Liberals have tried to claim that all they’ve wanted was a discussion,” Rankin said. “Discussion was always just a pretence — it just took them a while to admit it.”

http://www.theglobeandmail.com.....le34862021
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House to look at ending Friday sittings

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