POLITICS

House Leader says slew of new bills are a "framework" for the election campaign

06/15/2015 11:47 EDT | Updated 06/15/2016 05:59 EDT
OTTAWA - A series of bills introduced in the dying days of the current session of Parliament aren't intended to become law until after the scheduled October election, a Harper cabinet minister acknowledged Monday.

The legislation was tabled to give Canadians an idea of what to expect from the Conservatives, should they return to power, Government House Leader Peter Van Loan said as the spring session of Parliament began winding through its final full week.

"We have introduced a number of bills, rather late in the session, that demonstrate what will be the core of an agenda for a Conservative government re-elected when we return in the fall," said Van Loan.

The minister made the comments at a news conference where he outlined the government's accomplishments over the last few months and warned against the agendas put forward by the opposition New Democrats and Liberals.

The Harper government has stuffed the legislative pipeline with new legislation in the last two weeks, ranging from a new national marine conservation area for Lake Superior, to motor vehicle safety amendments, copyright changes and new mandatory minimum sentences for gun crime.

As late as Monday, a week before the Commons is expected to rise for the summer, Defence Minister Jason Kenney was set to table a bill aimed at protecting victims' rights in the military justice system.

Van Loan said more legislation is likely to be introduced before the scheduled end of the session.

And he said it's expected there won't be a sitting in September before the writ is issued for a general election.

One of the issues likely up for debate during the campaign is Senate reform — once a major plank in previous elections when the Conservatives pledged to either transform the upper chamber or abolish it.

Since the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that any significant changes to the Senate would require the approval of the provinces, the Harper government has all but given up that fight.

Van Loan said the Conservatives would welcome proposals from the provinces for changes.

"I can assure you that if we were to see an initiative from the provinces that matched ours on either reform or an abolition, I would expect we would respond to that," he said.

The New Democrats under Tom Mulcair have vowed to work with the provinces to abolish the Senate, should they form a government.

Several provinces, including Ontario and Quebec, have said they oppose abolition.