Members’ Bills debated
Most of our time in Parliament is spent debating bills proposed by the government. However, we also spend an hour a day debating bills proposed by individual Members of Parliament (MPs), called Private Members’ Bills (PMBs), which can be on many different types of subjects, although they cannot require the government to spend money.
While government bills generally involve parties voting together, the distribution of votes on PMBs is often a bit more interesting. There is a tradition of freer votes for these types of bills, and MPs often try to propose ideas that have some cross-party appeal. Here are a few examples of recent PMBs that I have voted on.
Motion 47: Last week, we had the final hour of debate followed by a vote on Motion 47, a proposal by Conservative MP Arnold Viersen for the health committee of the House of Commons to study the impact that violent sexual material has on children. This is not technically a private member’s “bill,” as it does not change the law. Rather, it is a motion to instruct a committee of Parliament to do a study. This study would address a very important issue — the emerging reality that very young children are able to access violent sexual imagery online. I spoke and voted in favour of Motion 47. It passed with unanimous support. Not infrequently, people put forward good ideas that everyone agrees on, and they pass unanimously.
Bill C-240: Earlier this fall, we debated bill C-240, proposed by a Liberal MP. This bill seeks to create a tax credit for first aid training. Although this bill was proposed by a Liberal, it was opposed by the Liberal cabinet and the prime minister. Most of us in the opposition, on the other hand (Conservative and NDP), saw it as a good common-sense measure. I spoke and voted in favour of this bill, as well. In the end, the bill passed, with strong opposition support and with about half the Liberals. This bill has now proceeded to a committee study and it will have to be voted on again in the House before being sent to the Senate for their consideration (assuming it is passed).
Bill C-235: This Tuesday, we voted on Bill C-235, a bill requiring judges to consider whether someone has fetal alcohol disorder during sentencing in a criminal trial. If someone has a disorder that prevents them from understanding the consequences of their actions, then they should be treated differently by the justice system. Punishments should still apply, but this bill could mean an emphasis on treatment as opposed to punishment in cases where that is more likely to produce results. I voted in favour of this bill. In the end, both major parties were split on this measure and it was defeated.
If you are interested in other bills coming up or would like to share your thoughts on any particular bill, please do not hesitate to call my office. Merry Christmas!
Garnett Genuis is the member of Parliament for Sherwood Park-Fort Saskatchewan. He can be contacted by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 780-467-4944. His office is located in the Park Place Professional Centre, Unit No. 214.
Published: Thursday, December 15, 2016