Little hope for Tories’ late bills
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With just six sitting days left in the legislative session, the Progressive Conservative government has introduced a new bill that would allow First Nations to enforce bylaws and collect fines.
However, it has little hope of becoming law.
Bill 43 (Provincial Offences Amendment Act) was welcomed by Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak Grand Chief Garrison Settee, who said in a news release his organization had been working with the provincial government for more than a year to develop it.
It is one of four government bills introduced in the last month not expected to pass before the legislative session ends June 1.
With the Oct. 3 provincial election a little over four months away, the government can use moribund bills to send a signal to potential supporters, one local political expert said.
“Introducing bills in the waning days of the session can be likened to putting shiny items in the window as part of the governing party’s sales pitch to voters,” University of Manitoba political studies professor emeritus Paul Thomas said Wednesday.
In order to become law, bills introduced in the legislature have to go before a committee for public input (or a committee of the whole legislature) then go back to the house for a vote and to receive royal assent.
There are no committee meetings scheduled to hear public input on government bills before the house rises for the summer.
On April 27, Consumer Protection Minister James Teitsma introduced Bill 39 (Residential Tenancies Amendment Act) to include a list of examples of the information or evidence that can be considered in an application to evict a tenant for unlawful activity.
On May 17, Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Obby Khan introduced Bill 40 (Combative Sports Amendment Act) that would expand the Manitoba Combative Sports Commission’s mandate to include licensing and regulating amateur combative sports, in addition to professional combative sports.
On Tuesday — in addition to Bill 43 — Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen introduced Bill 41 (Occupiers’ Liability Amendment Act) that would require notice of personal injury claims related to snow or ice on private property be given within 60 days of the injury occurring, except when the injury results in death or a court determines there was a reasonable excuse for failing to comply.
The Tories’ late rollout of new bills can also be seen as a sign of optimism in Premier Heather Stefanson’s government, said Thomas.
“It is also intended to send the message that the PCs have not given up hope of re-election in October,” the veteran political observer said. “The message is that these bills represent commitments which would be fulfilled once the party is re-elected.”
The majority PC government introduced and passed its budget bill Tuesday in just one day.
Bill 42 (Appropriation Act, 2023) gives the government spending authority this fiscal year. It received royal assent after being heard by a committee of the whole legislature.
Meanwhile, one committee meeting is scheduled Thursday night to hear input on three private members’ bills.
— Bill 218 (An Act Respecting the Title “Associate Judge”) was introduced Dec. 1 by NDP MLA Nahanni Fontaine to amend Court of King’s Bench Act and change the designation of judicial officials from “master” to “associate judge.”
— Bill 230 (Municipal Councils and School Boards Elections Amendment Act) was introduced March 16 by PC MLA Len Isleifson and would require candidates to disclose offences to which they have pleaded guilty or been found guilty.
— Bill 237 (Advanced Education Administration Amendment Act) was introduced April 19 by PC MLA Andrew Micklefield to include Providence University College and Theological Seminary as a university dealt with under the act.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.