Parliamentarians returned from their Christmas break today to begin or resume tackling a wide range of issues. MCC's Ottawa Office staff will be following a number of items in the weeks ahead:
- Bill C-10, the omnibus crime bill, will continue moving through the Senate. The Senate's Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee starts hearings this week, and it is expected that the bill will receive Royal Assent by the end of March at the latest, enabling the government to live up to their election promise of passing these measures within the first one hundred sitting days of the 41st Parliament.
- The House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Dvelopment is in the midst of a study on "The Role of the Private Sector in Achieving Canada's International Development Interests." It is clear from recent funding announcements for projects with mining companies that CIDA is already shifting resources in this direction, and it will be interesting to see how the committee grapples with concerns with this approach.
- The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance continues with its pre-budget consultations, which will include hearings on tax incentives for charitable donations. The Canadian Council of Christian Charities (of which MCC is a member) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada have both submitted briefs. The next federal budget is expected in late February or early March.
- The Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade is expected to announce detailed plans for the new Office of Religious Freedom. This was the major foreign policy plank in the Conservative Party of Canada's election campaign platform, and the Minister of Foreign Affairs has been consulting with a wide range of groups--and drawing attention to a wide range of concerns with respect to religious freedom around the world--in recent months.
- Efforts will continue to build support for Bill C-373, a Private Members' Bill that would create a Department of Peace. At this point two Members' of Parliament have seconded the bill, and it is not clear when it may move ahead to second reading.
- Additional Private Members' legislation designed to address issues related to the international activities of Canadian mining companies may be introduced soon.
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