MP report for October 31, 2011: How a Bill becomes a Law; Update on Ending the Long Gun Registry and the Fair Representation Act
Last week was another busy one in Ottawa as several important Bills were introduced into the House of Commons. For those of you unfamiliar with the stages of Bill passage, a Bill is always entered into the House for first reading. It is the custom of Parliament to unanimously support all Bills for first reading at such point the contents of the Bill then become available for reading. Although a Bill at this point can be unanimously voted to be sent directly to committee stage, generally second reading debate occurs where members of the House will decide after the debate if they agree to move a Bill on for committee stage.
Committee stage is the process where a Parliamentary Committee examines the contents of a Bill and will typically invite witnesses with expertise in the related field to examine the technical and legal aspects of the Bill in question. The Committee has the power to make amendments or revisions in the Bill before it is referred on for report stage. At Report stage Parliamentarians will again examine the contents of the Bill and decide if it requires further amendments before being sent on for third reading debate. Third reading is essentially the final look at a Bill by members of Parliament and should the Bill pass third reading it will then be referred to the Senate where a similar process will begin all over again. In short while the term slam dunk is sometimes applied to legislation, it is a very involved process with many important steps of review occurring before a Bill is passed into law.
Two Bills introduced last week also fulfill campaign commitments from the last election, Bill C-19 "Ending the Long Gun Registry Act" and Bill C-20 "Fair Representation Act" are both commitments that many Canadians and citizens from Okanagan-Coquihalla have expressed strong support in. While Bill C-19 is somewhat self explanatory in ending the long gun registry, Bill C-20 is deserving of further explanation. I have heard from seniors in particular of the frustration from many previous Federal elections being all but over once the Ontario elections polls closed. Western alienation is not a new sentiment nor is it a factually inaccurate opinion. In spite of living in a democratic society that is governed by representation by population, in Western Canada we have in fact been unrepresented compared to many Provinces across Canada. While increasing seats in some Provinces and decreasing the seats in others may seem like a more obvious solution, various clauses within the Constitution Act provide seat guarantees in some provinces the prevent such practices from occurring.
In order to ensure greater democratic equality, seats will be increased in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario and to a lesser extent Quebec. While Quebec will receive three new seats, both British Columbia and Alberta will receive six new seats each while Ontario would gain fifteen new seats. These changes will more fairly balance the percentage of the Canadian population in each province with the percentage of seats within the House. By adding 27 seats outside of Quebec the proportional share of the seats in the house will increase for B.C., Alberta and Ontario and at the same time will decrease in Quebec and the Maritime Provinces more closely following actual population. If you would like further information on either of these Bills please contact my office at 250-770-4480 or toll free at 1-800-665-8711
Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for Okanagan- Coquihalla and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament elect for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola.