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MP Larry Bagnell

MP ‘pretty excited’ watching Bill C-17 pass

Bill C-17 is headed for scrutiny in the Senate after passing third reading in the House of Commons this morning.

By Taylor Blewett on November 9, 2017

Bill C-17 is headed for scrutiny in the Senate after passing third reading in the House of Commons this morning.

“I was pretty excited,” Yukon MP Larry Bagnell said of today’s proceedings in a late-morning interview with the Star. “It’s been a long haul.”

The federal legislation amends changes made to the Yukon Socio-economic Assessment Act (YESAA) via Bill S-6 under the previous federal Conservative government. It was introduced in the house in June 2016.

It passed second reading a year later, was studied by the Indigenous and Northern Affairs standing committee over the course of two meetings in October, and was reported to the House of Commons at committee stage Oct. 6.

“I want to thank my colleagues on the Standing Committee on Indigenous and Northern Affairs for getting the bill through without amendments in a timely manner,” Bagnell said in a statement this morning.

“I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate to get Bill C-17 passed expeditiously.”

The Yukon legislature voted unanimously last spring in favour of a motion to support federal Liberal efforts to pass Bill C-17.

Third reading of the bill resumed today after debate was adjourned Oct. 26. Bagnell attributed that delay to Conservative political manoeuvring, a suggestion the Opposition denied.

There was little evidence of obstructionism this round, as a single Conservative MP stood to debate the legislation.

When no other MP rose, the bill passed without need for a recorded vote.

“I am very proud of the work that minister (Carolyn) Bennett and the government have done to honour our commitments to Yukon First Nations and restore certainty to the mining industry,” Bagnell said in the press release. Benett is the Crown-Indigenous Relations minister.

“The changes put forward in the previous government’s Bill S-6, were brought in without consultation and negotiation with Yukon’s First Nations, with whom YESAA was originally negotiated.

“This has resulted in a pending lawsuit, which could have had long lasting negative impacts for the resource sector in the Yukon.”

That 2015 lawsuit by three Yukon First Nations was stayed when the newly-elected federal Liberals promised to repeal Bill S-6.

During a visit to Whitehorse, then-Conservative prime minister Stephen Harper said publicly the initiative for Bill S-6 had originated with then-premier Darrell Pasloski’s Yukon Party government.

As the Liberals have a majority government, their bill’s passage through the House of Commons was essentially guaranteed.

However, it’s a different story in the Senate, where, in 2014, Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau released all of his party’s senators from partisan obligations. Further, since becoming prime minister two years ago, Trudeau’s government has appointed numerous independent senators.

This means uncertainty when it comes to how quickly Bill C-17 might move through the Red Chamber, Bagnell said.

While he’s been speaking to senators about the bill for over a year, “the Senate is now independent ... they don’t follow anyone’s instructions, they each decide individually; you never know how things are going to happen there.”

No one from the Yukon government was available to comment on the bill’s passing.

Comments (1)

Up 20 Down 6

Max Mack on Nov 9, 2017 at 5:40 pm

"obstructionism"? The duty of members of the house is to debate legislation. This is not "obstructionism".

As for Trudeau's supposed release of party senator from partisan obligations, this journalist does not appear to understand the role of the senate. Senators may be appointed by one party or another, but the Party Whip does not control how they vote. The PM cannot fire a senator; they do not serve at the pleasure of the PM. Thank goodness.

But the assertion that Trudeau has appointed "independent" senators is really laughable. Has Trudeau appointed anyone with an orientation that is other than liberal and likely to vote for whatever Trudeau proposes?

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