Liberals May Use Time Allocation To Push Priorities Through Parliament

Article by The Chronicle Herald

Liberals may use time allocation to push priorities through Parliament

The Liberal government is heading into the second half of its mandate with a number of big legislative priorities they are eager to move through Parliament.

And they are ready to curtail debate if they think the opposition parties are dragging their feet — especially since the will of the increasingly independent Senate is becoming harder to predict.

“We know that there’s going to be vigorous debate and there is going to be partisanship and politics on many ideas,” said Cameron Ahmad, a spokesman for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “It’s how our system works, but at the same time I don’t think it’s necessary for every single issue to be framed around partisanship.”

This spring, the Liberal government backed down on part of its plan to alter the ins and outs of parliamentary procedure, abandoning some of the more controversial reforms that the Conservatives and New Democrats had been battling for weeks.

Still, House leader Bardish Chagger warned at the time this would come with a cost, telling her political rivals that since they could not agree on other ways to speed things along, the Liberals would be ready to impose time allocation — a heavy-handed tactic that limits debate.

That remains the case as MPs return to Ottawa this week, especially since the Liberals want to act quickly on priorities such as the legalization of marijuana, a tougher law on impaired driving and the new National Security Act.

Other big goals for the fall include political financing reforms and an air passengers bill of rights.

“We’re looking forward to debating everybody, but if it comes to a point where we’re seeing obstructionism as we saw on certain occasions in the last session, time allocation is a tool that could be used,” said Ahmad, who stressed they have not made up their minds to use it.

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