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Strikes, trials and budgets, oh my: House busy before summer recess

Air Canada customer service agents picket outside Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport in Montreal Tuesday, June 14, 2011.

Graham Hughes/THE CANADIAN PRESS

The House of Commons is set to sit four days before all MPs go back home on Thursday to work on constituency matters, head off on holidays or spend time with their families. Before the summer recess begins, however, MPs will have to deal with crucial legislative matters.

"There's a lot of business that has to be dealt with in a very short period of time," Conservative House Leader Peter Van Loan said.

While Mr. Van Loan opened the door to additional sitting days next week, there is little appetite in Ottawa to continue sitting into late June. "It remains possible that the House will rise on time, if we get good co-operation on getting the agenda through," Mr. Van Loan said.

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Here are the key points to be debated and voted upon in the House this week:

POST HASTE

Most everyone hopes the labour dispute at Canada Post will be settled at the bargaining table. Barring a deal, the government will table back-to-work legislation after 3 p.m. on Monday, and start debate on the matter on Tuesday. Despite the expected resistance of the NDP, the government hopes to finish debate on Thursday and quickly send the bill on to the Senate for final passage.

The government is confident that it can get the legislation through Parliament this week now that the labour dispute at Air Canada has been settled without any legislative intervention. Otherwise, it would have been hard to fit two back-to-work bills in one week.

HAPPY TRIALS

The Conservative party, the NDP and the Liberal party all agreed last week to speed up passage of Bill C-2 to facilitate mega-trials in cases involving large groups accused of criminal offences or terrorist charges.

But Green Leader Elizabeth May threatened to block the matter unless the Justice Committee of the House was able to hold hearings. The three official parties in the House relented and agreed to a deal under which the bill will go to committee and then be voted upon on Wednesday.

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OPPOSITION HAS ITS DAYS

The opposition will control the agenda on two days this week and bring votable motions to the floor of the House, with the NDP in charge on Monday. The Official Opposition will discuss its plans to end poverty among seniors in a fiscally responsible way, calling on the government "to take immediate steps to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement."

There will be another opposition day on Wednesday, though the agenda is still up in the air.

MONEY TALKS

The Conservatives have money matters to get through Parliament before summer, such as spending estimates that are a routine matter in a majority government. In addition, the government wants Bill C-3, which includes popular elements from its budget, to be adopted by the House. The legislation doesn't meet all of the NDP's expectations, but it does contain a popular measure to increase the Guaranteed Income Supplement to seniors, which will ensure its passage.

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About the Author
Parliamentary reporter

Daniel Leblanc studied political science at the University of Ottawa and journalism at Carleton University. He became a full-time reporter in 1998, first at the Ottawa Citizen and then in the Ottawa bureau of The Globe and Mail. More

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