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Harper government introduces C-31 ‘budget implementation’ bill

Yesterday, the Harper government tabled C-31, yet another one of its so-called ‘budget implementation’ omnibus bills. This one alters almost 40 different pieces of legislation. The 359-page piece of legislation can be read here or here.

While more detailed analysis is pending, news reports by the Canadian PressGlobe and MailOttawa Citizen and iPolitics note that this omnibus bill:

  • makes changes to rail safety rules

  • harmonizes hazardous goods rules with the United States

  • gives cabinet a say on regulations regarding fresh fruits and vegetables

  • identifies which public service jobs and services are ‘essential’ impacting collective bargaining rights

  • makes it more difficult for immigrants coming to Canada to qualify for the Guaranteed Income Supplement provided to low-income seniors

  • harmonizes vehicle safety standards with the United States

  • references every element laid out in the first implementation bill

It also:

  • strengthens the push for a national securities regulator

  • imposes fines against companies that abuse the temporary foreign workers program

  • changes the Trademarks Act

  • precludes three senators from the parliamentary pension plan while under suspension

  • taxes hospital parking

  • requires Canadian banks to report the financial holdings of dual Canadian-U.S. citizens

  • requires tolls for the bridge replacing the Champlain Bridge and the Nuns’ Island Bridge over the St. Lawrence River

  • caps roaming rates in the telecommunications sector

  • dissolves the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Board

  • changes rules related to Bitcoin and digital currency transactions, online casinos

  • changes the names of two branches of the Canadian Armed Forces

  • impacts judges, military ranks

Not noted in news reports yet is that this bill:

  • makes changes to the Canadian International Trade Tribunal Act, see here.

The Canadian Press notes, “In recent years, the Conservatives have used omnibus budget bills to alter everything from the Environmental Assessment Act to the Fisheries Act and the immigration law. The most recent one was rushed through the Commons in October, and included a measure that changed how Supreme Court justices are appointed. The top court responded last week that such a change required a constitutional amendment, and was thus beyond Parliament’s power.”

As a reminder the 452-page C-38:

  • empowered the federal cabinet to approve pipelines and other major energy projects regardless of regulatory board recommendations

  • blocked participation of those ‘not directly affected by the project’ in environmental hearings

  • allowed the National Energy Board to permit activities that kill or harm endangered species

  • gutted the Fisheries Act

  • scrapped the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act

  • changed Employment Insurance benefits

  • cracked down on charities engaging in political activity

  • axed the federal spy watchdog

  • changed the eligibility for Old Age Security payments to 67 from 65

And the 443-page C-45:

  • amended the Canada Shipping Act and the Fisheries Act

  • changed the definition of an aboriginal fishery

  • eliminated environmental restrictions for building a bridge across the Detroit River

  • amended the Indian Act to change voting rules for land designation

  • amended the Customs Act for the government to collect information on passengers

  • eliminated the Hazardous Materials Information Review Commission

  • limited the scope of the Navigable Waters Act, eliminating impediments to pipelines crossing navigable waters

  • eliminated the Board that set rates for employment insurance premiums

  • set time limits on worker complaints under the Canada Labour Code

Further reading
Bill C-38, the destructive ‘budget implementation’ act
Harper’s C-45 budget implementation act introduced