Suddenly the Prime Minister believes he needs the opposition's permission? - Macleans.ca

Suddenly the Prime Minister believes he needs the opposition’s permission?

Has he forgotten about the option of time allocation?

by

On the anniversary of the government’s Senate reform legislation last being debated in the House, an exchange this afternoon between Thomas Mulcair and the Prime Minister. (emphasis mine)

Thomas Mulcair: Sixteen Conservative senators are still refusing to provide evidence that they actually live in the provinces they are supposed to represent. Fifteen of those were appointed by the Prime Minister. In their eighth year of broken promises, this is the Conservative record on Senate reform. Will the Prime Minister demand that his senators, members of his caucus, come clean with Canadians or is he going to keep covering up for them?

Stephen Harper: Mr. Speaker, all senators conform to the residency requirements. That is the basis on which they are appointed to the Senate and those requirements have been clear for 150 years. We recognize there have to be reforms to the Senate, including limiting senators’ mandates and encouraging an elected Senate. Unfortunately, it is the NDP that consistently opposes reforming the Senate and opposes an elected Senate, hoping in the future to appoint its own senators. I would encourage the NDP to join with us and allow the bill to pass so that we can have an elected Senate.

Why, in this case, does the Prime Minister believe it is necessary for the opposition to “allow” the bill to pass? The Conservatives have a majority in the House of Commons. They could use that majority to pass a motion of time allocation to bring C-7 to a vote and they could use that majority to pass the bill at second reading. They have already used time allocation to end debate in the House on 28 occasions in this Parliament.

Government House leader Peter Van Loan might be reluctant to do so, but he also seems to believe in the necessity of time allocation if it is about fulfilling a commitment the government has made.

Mr. Speaker, nobody would be more delighted than I if we could actually not have to use time allocation, but so far we have not seen an indication from the opposition parties that they are prepared to deal with bills on an expeditious basis. We feel the need to actually get things done here and deliver on our commitments.

In fact, in each of these cases since we started in September, each one of those bills continues to be debated in the process in the House of Commons. At committee, they have not even returned here for report stage yet, let alone third reading. Extensive debate is taking place.

The fact is that the parliamentary process is a lengthy one with many stages. We want to ensure that bills have an opportunity to get through those stages so they can become law, so we can keep the commitments that we made to Canadians.

As Mr. Van Loan said yesterday, Canadians have “elected a government committed to delivering Senate reform.” Surely then this moment cries out for time allocation.