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Council trade campaigner to present to Senate committee on Bill C-30 on May 3

Montreal-based Council of Canadians trade campaigner Sujata Dey will be presenting to the Senate foreign affairs and trade committee on May 3 at 4:15 pm.

That Senate committee is examining Bill C-30, “An Act to implement the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement between Canada and the European Union and its Member States and to provide for certain other measures“.

Following three days of debate (on February 8, February 13 and February 14), the House of Commons passed Bill C-30 at Third Reading on February 14.

It then went to the Senate on March 7.

The provisional application of CETA can only begin after the Senate passes C-30 and the federal cabinet formally ratifies the deal.

According to Article 30.7(2) of CETA, the deal will “enter into force on the first day of the second month following the date the Parties exchange written notifications certifying that they have completed their respective internal requirements and procedures or on such other date as the Parties may agree.”

The CBC has reported that the Trudeau government wants to be able to provisionally apply CETA by July 1, meaning time is getting tight for them to make that happen.

While the Senate is not known for blocking government legislation, an interesting situation is emerging given then-Opposition leader Justin Trudeau kicked all 32 Liberal Senators out of the Liberal caucus in January 2014 in a self-described “bold” move amid the Senate expenses scandal and calls for Senate reform.

In January, the Vancouver Sun reported, “As a result, 42 of the 102 members (there are three vacancies) are listed as ‘non-affiliated’, and another 20 identify themselves as Liberals even though Trudeau banished [them]. That independence from party discipline has resulted in apparent growing assertiveness. The Senate last year temporarily blocked the government’s assisted death bill, and more recently forced Finance Minister Bill Morneau to remove a consumer-protection component of his budget-implementation bill.”

The Senate has also just rejected Bill C-4.

The Globe and Mail reports, “The Trudeau government introduced Bill C-4 in January, 2016. The bill’s original intent was to repeal both C-377 and C-525 [the Harper government’s anti-union legislation]. The House approved the bill in October and sent it to the Senate. …But in a 43 to 34 vote, the Senate voted on Tuesday [April 11] to amend the Liberal government’s Bill C-4 in a way that keeps C-525 and its secret-ballot voting requirements intact. The change was mostly supported by Conservative senators, with the support of some Liberals and independents.”

That said, the CBC’s Janyce McGregor has commented, “There’s no sign of senators holding [Bill C-30] up”, but that’s far from certain in this current political environment. In fact, Gordon Gibson, who has written about the Senate for decades, says of this political moment, “This is a constitutional crisis waiting to happen.”

The Senate is set to adjourn for the summer recess on June 30.