Canada’s MPs are heading home to their constituencies after the House of Commons agreed to stand for the summer on Thursday afternoon.
While late sittings over the past few days have sent a slew of newly passed bills to the Senate for consideration, a number of government pledges remain on hold until the fall.
Unlike the past two summers, when Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament in 2020 and when he called an election in 2021, legislation that didn’t cross the finish line likely won’t have to start again. zero and to be reintroduced when Members return in September.
Indeed, no election is currently on the horizon following a confidence and supply agreement reached between the Liberals and New Democrats earlier this year, which should see them working together to keep the Liberals in government until 2025.
Now, as is often the case in politics, no one can predict the future. But as it stands, there is no indication that another prorogation is in the works, nor another federal election.
So here’s where things stand as the House of Commons takes a summer break. This is not a conclusive list of dozens of bills caught halfway, but rather an overview of the main promises.
Last month, the federal government introduced new legislation that it says will strengthen gun safety.
Bill C-21 seeks to freeze handgun sales nationwide and revoke the firearms licenses of anyone involved in domestic violence or stalking.
National handgun ‘freeze’ among Ottawa’s proposed new gun regulations
In addition, the bill promises to introduce what is known as a “red flag” law – in effect, a law that would allow the courts to force a person considered a danger to themselves or others to surrender his firearms to the police.
The bill is currently at second reading in the House of Commons, which means it still has to go through committee and third reading before it can go to the Senate.
Ban sanctioned Russians
Canada sanctioned about 1,000 Russians and Belarusians in connection with the invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign democracy that is now withstanding more than 100 days of invasion.
In May, Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino announced that the government was tabling a bill in the Senate – effectively putting the legislation in reverse order in Parliament – to bar anyone sanctioned from entering. in the country.
The bill was passed in the Red Chamber, but must go through the legislative process in the House of Commons.
The bill was expected to pass the Senate first to expedite that passage, an official said.
Border surveillance by mobile phone
A controversial bill that has received little attention so far, but is likely to be the subject of a heated debate once it reaches the House of Commons, is also set to return to deputies.
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S-7, filed in March, is titled An Act to amend the Customs Act and the Preclearance Act.
These amendments, however, propose to relax restrictions on when border guards can search the “personal digital devices” of anyone entering Canada if the guard has a “reasonable general concern” about the controlled goods or substances.
The government has described the bill as an attempt to create “clear and strict standards” for when personal digital devices can be searched at the border, following a court order in 2020 that ruled the current lack of standards in the Customs Act to be unconstitutional.
But privacy advocates have sounded the alarm over the potential for misuse.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association is particularly concerned about the threshold of “reasonable general concern”, which is a standard that does not exist in Canadian law as it currently stands and is markedly different from the typical threshold used in similar laws, which is of “reasonable concern for reason to suspect.” »
“Introducing such a low standard not only protects the privacy of individuals, but also does not offer protection against racial and religious profiling that can arise from the excessive discretion that such a minimalist standard will offer, and may even exacerbate this profiling,” the ACLC said. warned.
The Senate amended this section of the bill to establish the standard for seeking “reasonable grounds to suspect”, but it is not yet clear whether the government will accept this amendment.
Expect a plot questions as it comes back to the House of Commons.
Cybersecurity — and Secret Commands
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino tabled C-26 earlier this month.
The bill seeks to grant sweeping new powers to the federal government to direct critical infrastructure operators on their cybersecurity plans and protection efforts. It will also create the powers the government says it needs to implement the promised ban on Huawei and ZTE.
But cybersecurity experts say that while the bill has “good bones”, the provisions allowing him to run private sector companies in secret need to be changed, especially in light of the fact that such repairs or modifications of the corporate cyber operations could be costly.
Ottawa’s cybersecurity bill has ‘good bones’ – but privacy rules need to be changed, experts say
The bill comes at a time when critical infrastructure protection and cybersecurity are playing a renewed role at the center of conversations about Canada’s national security.
Mendicino recently warned that the government was on “high alert” for Russian cyberattacks.
Late last year, Justice Minister David Lametti tabled C-9, which seeks to amend the Judges Act.
The bill would replace the Canadian Judicial Council’s review of the conduct of federally appointed judges. It would also establish a new process to deal with allegations of misconduct that “are not serious enough to warrant the removal of a judge.”
It sets out the obligation for the judge in question to follow advice, undergo continuing education or receive a reprimand in cases where his conduct does not meet the threshold justifying dismissal.
In addition, the bill would change the way judges’ removal recommendations are made to the Minister of Justice and sets out a series of additional measures to remove public office holders other than judges who have been appointed to their position. for “good years”. behaviour.”
Note: The NDP Algorithm Reform Bill
Private members’ bills are always difficult to pass in the House of Commons, especially when they come from a member of an opposition party.
And while it may have little chance of passing, a private member’s bill from the NDP’s Peter Julian will be worth watching as Western democracies grow more aware of how algorithms of social media leads to the spread of hateful and extremist content. on line.
As Global News reported, it only takes four clicks to find extremist content online in Canada.
C-292 proposes to require social media companies to disclose how they collect personal information about users and how that personal information is used by their algorithms “to make predictions, recommendations, or decisions about a user and to retain that user’s content or amplify or promote the content to them.
This would require those companies to ensure that their content moderation algorithms “do not use algorithms that use personal information in a way that results in differential adverse treatment of any individual or group of individuals on the basis of ‘one or more prohibited grounds of discrimination’.
The bill, like all private members’ bills, will face an uphill battle and an unlikely path to passage.
But when Parliament returns in the fall, debate over its proposals could provide some interesting insight into whether the Liberal government plans to propose any serious measures targeting algorithms.
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