OTTAWA — Epilepsy, human trafficking, wine, autism, prize fighting — these are a few of the topics covered by private member’s bills and Senate public bills passed into law by the current Parliament.
Backbench MPs or senators have sponsored Twenty-four pieces of legislation that have been passed since the last election. This is one of the most prolific periods for such bills ever and four of them came from opposition parliamentarians.
According to conservative MPs, this success of legislative projects challenges the notion that individual parliamentarians can’t effect change. However, the opposition says the system is being used by the Conservative leadership to push through legislation that’s not subject to the same scrutiny that government bills face.
But most of those bills were name changes to individual ridings, a technical change that is now done in a single piece of government legislation. The last majority Liberal Parliament saw only eight private member’s bills pass.
“People really do appreciate when you take local concerns, bring them up to that level, and in this case, we were very successful,” said Conservative B.C. MP Dan Albas who put forward a private member’s bill on personal wine imports, and saw it pass in 2012.
NDP MP Randall Garrison has found success twice in getting a bill through the Commons to criminalize discrimination against transgender Canadians, managing to secure the support of 18 Conservative MPs and cabinet ministers. A year later, however, the legislation remains stuck in limbo in the Senate. Mr. Garrison now fears there is a behind-the-scenes plan to make sure his bill never becomes law.
Mr. Garrison, who sits on the Commons public safety committee, said he’s seen Conservative private member’s bills on law and order that should have been introduced by the government.
Unlike private member’s legislation, when legislation is proposed by a minister, it gets vetted by departmental lawyers and policy experts before landing in the Commons.
Source: National Post