Independent senators helped improve record number of Government bills
As the 42nd Parliament draws to a close, independent Senator Yuen Pau Woo says he is proud of the work the Senate has done in amending a record number of Government bills over the last few years.
“As the Senate continues to distance itself from the partisan model that dominates the House of Commons, senators have become increasingly free to scrutinize Government bills on a deeper level and offer amendments designed to improve them,
” said Woo. “Ironically enough, this new modern Senate is actually inching us closer to original mandate envisioned for the Upper Chamber, which was to add a layer of sober second thought to the work done by Government.”
Woo pointed to several examples of improvements made to Government legislation during the 42nd Parliament. For instance, the Senate made seven amendments to Bill C-14 (Medical Assistance in Dying Act) and 26 of the Senate’s proposed amendments to Bill C-45 (Cannabis Act) were accepted by the Government. Furthermore, of the Senate’s 187 proposed amendments to Bill C-69 (Impact Assessment Act and Canadian Energy Regulator Act), a record 99 amendments were adopted by the House of Commons. Several other bills were also adopted with significant improvements proposed by the Senate.
“While the sheer number of amendments proposed by the Senate in this Parliament is impressive,” added Woo, “the quality of those amendments is the real story here. Not only have numerous pieces of legislation been substantially improved, but several other important bills and matters were initiated by the Senate itself. This is a testament to the added value brought to the Upper Chamber by independent senators and their diverse backgrounds and expertise.”
In terms of impactful bills that originated in the Senate, Woo highlighted the work done on Bill S-3 (An Act to Amend the Indian Act) which removed sexist rules that placed unfair conditions on the transferring of status to offspring.
Over the course of the 42nd Parliament, the Senate proposed amendments to a total of 38 pieces of legislation. The House of Commons ultimately passed 35 bills that included improvements proposed by the Senate. By comparison, only 13 bills were amended during the 41st Parliament.
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Independent Senators Group (ISG)
Established in 2016, The Independent Senators Group (ISG) is committed to a non-partisan Senate and the modernization of the Upper House of Canada’s Parliament. With 59 members, the ISG is the largest parliamentary group in the Senate. Composed of independents not affiliated with any political caucus, ISG Senators work cooperatively but act independently.
The ISG’s Facilitator is Senator Yuen Pau Woo (BC) and the Deputy Facilitator is Raymonde Saint-Germain (QC), each elected by members on a two-year term (until 2019). ISG senators have been appointed over the years by five different Prime Ministers, with most of the current membership selected through The Independent Advisory Board for Senate appointments process.