Bill C-48 unlikely to survive Parliament’s summer siesta

MPs packed it in June 19, heading home for the summer for some pre-election campaigning and time spent with family before the upcoming federal election, which is expected to be called sometime in the late summer or early fall.

For agriculture, the rise of the House means the end of C-48, a grain bill designed to modernize the Canadian Grain Commission.

The legislation will likely die on the order paper because Parliament is not expected to reconvene before the federal election this fall.

The bill would have developed a producer compensation fund in instances where licensees failed to pay for grain deliveries. It would have also created a new class of licence for container loading facilities.

Government bills that have not passed before the writ is dropped automatically die on the order paper, which is Parliament’s main agenda.

It’s likely fair to say few are sad to see the 41st Parliament go. The past few months have been rife with nasty political undertones and full-fledged campaign-style announcements and flair.

If the past few months have indicated anything, Canadians are in for one of the nastiest election campaigns this country has ever seen. And if recent polls are correct, the race for the right to govern is anyone’s game.

The end of the 41st Parliament also marks the end of several high-profile political careers.

More than 50 members of Parliament are calling it quits, for a variety of reasons, although more than a few have mentioned they would like to spend more time with their families. Among them are some 30 Conservatives, including nearly half a dozen cabinet ministers.

Justice minister Peter MacKay, industry minister James Moore, heritage minister Shelly Glover and international development minister Christian Paradis have all announced their retirement.

For Canadian agriculture, notable names retiring include Alberta MP LaVar Payne, a longtime member of the House agriculture committee, and Nova Scotia MP Gerald Keddy, who currently serves as parliamentary secretary for agriculture.

In some ways the surge in the number of politicians retiring is to be expected, especially given that the Conservatives have been in power for nearly a decade.

In the political cycle, governments routinely turn over after 10 years as MPs move on to other interests or Canadians decide they want political change.

And, as much as Canadians and journalists like to gripe about politicians, holding a seat in Ottawa is not an easy job.

The travel demands can be exhausting, particularly for MPs who live far from major airports. The strain on personal relationships can also be excruciating. Parliament Hill has been known to end more than a few marriages.

Still, it wouldn’t be Parliament Hill without its hallways being rife with speculation about whether there’s more to the onslaught of political departures than a desire to spend more time with family.

After all, this government was known by the political press as one of the most secretive in Canadian history.

The tight message control sparked more than a few outbursts of frustration from journalists on the Hill, but also prompted at least one former Conservative, Brent Rathgeber, to quit his party and sit as an independent.

To be fair, none of the retiring MPs have said publicly that their departures were spurred by the tight message control.

The tight messaging is expected to continue into the next election. Whether it continues into the next Parliament is anyone’s guess.

So long, 41st Parliament. Let the campaigning begin.

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