Saturday, May 15, 2010

New Legislative Summaries from the Library of Parliament

The Library of Parliament has recently published a number of legislative summaries about bills before the House of Commons or the Senate.

Here is a sample:
  • Canada–Colombia Free Trade Agreement Implementation Act: "Bill C-2 implements three agreements and their respective annexes signed by Canada and the Republic of Colombia (Colombia) on 21 November 2008. The first of these is a bilateral free trade agreement (FTA) between Canada and Colombia. The Canada–Colombia FTA (CCOFTA) provides for the liberalization of various types of economic activities: trade in goods, trade in services, foreign investments, and government procurements. The two other agreements dealt with in the bill are side agreements to the FTA: the Agreement on the Environment between Canada and the Republic of Colombia ('Environment Agreement') and the Agreement on Labour Cooperation between Canada and the Republic of Colombia ('Labour Agreement'). The Environment Agreement seeks to ensure that each party enforces its environmental laws; the Labour Agreement seeks to ensure that the domestic law of both states respects basic labour rights and is duly enforced. The latter agreement also provides for the possibility of resorting to arbitral panels to settle trade-related disputes that involve a persistent pattern of failure to comply with obligations under the Labour Agreement, an option that is not created in the Environment Agreement."
  • An Act to amend the Constitution Act, 1867 (Democratic representation): "Bill C-12 is designed to address a distortion in the manner in which population growth is reflected by growth in the number of elected representatives assigned to each province. The Bill seeks to remedy this distortion by enacting a new formula for seat readjustments in the House of Commons. As with the formula presently employed to readjust the number of members seated in the House, Bill C-12 prescribes a formula that readjusts seats after each decennial census, while also apportioning any newly created seats to the province or provinces that experienced population growth from one decennial census to the next."
  • Ending House Arrest for Property and Other Serious Crimes by Serious and Violent Offenders Act: "The bill amends section 742.1 of the Criminal Code, which deals with conditional sentencing, to eliminate the reference to serious personal injury offences. It also restricts the availability of conditional sentences for all offences for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 14 years or life and for specified offences, prosecuted by way of indictment, for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years."
  • Increasing Voter Participation Act: "The proposed legislation builds upon the increasing use of advance polling by Canadian voters. On the day Bill C-18 was introduced, its sponsor stated that 'Increasing the number of advance polling days means giving Canadians more opportunities to vote and will help to increase voter participation.' Since 1997, the percentage of voters who cast their vote in advance polls increased from 5.4% in 1997 to 6% in 2000, 9.2% in 2004, 10.5% in 2006 and 10.9% in 2008. Bill C-18 is based on the premise that additional advance polling days will increase voter turnout, which has been declining since 1988 (see Table 1). In this vein, the 58.8% voter turnout for the last general election of 14 October 2008 marks a record low."
  • An Act to amend the Criminal Code (investigative hearing and recognizance with conditions): "Bill C-17 proposes amendments to the Criminal Code (the Code) that would reinstate anti-terrorism provisions that expired under a sunset clause in February 2007. It also provides for the appearance of individuals who may have information about a terrorism offence before a judge for an investigative hearing and contains provisions dealing with recognizance with conditions and preventive arrest to avert a potential terrorist attack, all of which are provisions that are substantially similar to original provisions in the Anti-terrorism Act that came into force in 2001. It also contains a five-year sunset clause and requires the Attorney General and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness to issue separate annual reports that include their opinions as to whether these provisions should be extended."
  • Act to amend the Criminal Code and another Act (Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act): "The bill amends provisions in the Criminal Code regarding the right of persons convicted of murder or high treason to apply for early parole. This is done through the elimination of the so-called 'faint hope' clause by which those given a life sentence for murder or high treason could apply for parole after having served 15 years of their sentence."
  • Act to deter terrorism and to amend the State Immunity Act: "The bill creates a cause of action (i.e., grounds to sue) that allows victims of terrorism to sue individuals, organizations and terrorist entities for loss or damage suffered as a result of acts or omissions that are punishable under Part II.1 of the Criminal Code (the part of the Code dealing with terrorism offences) and which have been committed by these individuals, organizations or entities. It also allows victims of terrorism to sue foreign states that have supported terrorist entities which have committed such acts, in certain circumstances. The victim's loss or damage can have occurred inside or outside Canada but must have occurred on or after 1 January 1985. If the loss or damage occurs outside Canada, there must be a 'real and substantial' connection to this country. Bill S-7 also amends the State Immunity Act to create a new exception to state immunity, the general rule that prevents states from being sued in Canada's domestic courts. However, the new exception serves to remove state immunity only when the state in question has been placed on a list established by Cabinet on the basis that there are reasonable grounds to believe that it has supported or currently supports terrorism."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 2:48 pm

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