Private Members Bills (PMBs) you should know about

There are a few PMBs currently on the Order Paper which are raising concerns among constituents.

First, NDP MP Charlie Angus tabled C-372 in early February. As the National Post summarized, this  legislation proposes to “criminalize the ‘promotion’ of fossil fuels, and prescribe jail time even for Canadians who say scientifically true things such as how burning natural gas is cleaner than burning coal.”

Second, Leader of the Bloc Québécois, Yves-François Blanchet, tabled C-367 last November. If passed, this draft PMB would “amend the Criminal Code to eliminate as a defence against willful promotion of hatred or antisemitism the fact that a person, in good faith, expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text.”

Both of these bills essentially seek to limit, and further criminalize, free speech in Canada.

As a strong advocate for the energy industry, and a Conservative MP with a strong faith, Mrs. Kusie will be opposing both of these PMBs should they come before Parliament.

However, they have a long road ahead to get there.

At the start of every Parliament there is a lottery held, which includes the names of every Member of Parliament (excluding members of Cabinet). This establishes a List for the Consideration of Private Member’s Business. A similar process occurs in the Senate.

At any given time, the House of Commons will have an average of 30 pieces of Private Member’s Business being considered. As they move through the Parliamentary process, they are either successful or defeated, and are subsequently removed from the order of business. The list will then be replenished by inviting the next 15 MPs on the List for the Consideration of Private Member’s Business to bring an item of their choosing forward.

(It is important to note that Members of Parliament and Senators can table any number of Bills or Motions, but when and if their name is selected, they are only able to choose one item to bring forward for consideration by Parliament.)

To put this in context, after the last election (Sept 20th, 2021) the List was created consisting of 258 MPs. To date (over 28 months), 91 Members have had the opportunity to bring forth either a draft Bill or Motion for consideration by Parliament. The next federal election must be called by October 2025. Realistically, this may mean another 50 to 55 MPs might make it onto the List, but even then there is no guarantee their Bill or Motion would have time to complete the process before Parliament will be dissolved. (One of Stephanie’s recent publications provided an overview of Parliament and the stages of all Bills.)

Back to C-372 and C-367. Mr. Angus will actually be in the next batch of MPs made eligible to choose a PMB. That replenishment will likely occur at some point in the coming weeks/months. He will then have to choose one of the two PMBs he has currently on notice. Mr. Blanchet however, still has over 100 MPs ahead of him before he will have the opportunity to bring a PMB forward. (He is one spot ahead of Stephanie on the List.) He also currently has two PMBs ready to select from, however it is very unlikely he will have the chance in this Parliament.