On August 19th, while addressing the media in Whitehorse, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced he plans to ask the Governor General to prorogue Parliament. If you follow this stuff, the announcement was about as surprising as Justin Trudeau attending another BBQ. If you don’t, rest assured that pro-rogue-ing has nothing to do with the PM seeking a more vagrant friendly Parliament. In either case, you might be wondering – what are the implications of this for Parliament and REALTORS®?
First off, it means a reset of the legislative agenda. In practical terms that means the government’s business on the Order Paper (Parliament’s to-do list) is wiped clean. Anything which has not gone through both the House of Commons and the Senate and received Royal Assent – scrubbed. The only thing that doesn’t get the presto gone-zo treatment is private members’ business. Government legislation can be re-instated if the House agrees. Nevertheless, the throne speech crafted by the government, which ends prorogation and is the starting gun of a new session, usually sets out a new legislative agenda.
For the current government the upcoming throne speech, which will take place sometime in October, will be critical to setting the tone for the next two years. It’s an opportunity to refocus and set out a policy agenda to carry them into the next election, scheduled for 2015. Prorogation’s delay of Parliament’s return will also provide more time for the raft of new Ministers appointed in July to master their portfolios and to decide on legislative priorities.
Amidst what may seem like a lot of political show and procedure, there are a few important takeaways for REALTORS®.
First, the drafting and publishing of regulations and guidelines, which further flesh out legislation that has already been passed, carries on. For example, CREA managed to secure seven amendments to Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, which serve to preserve certain important REALTOR® – client lines of communication. None of these amendments will be affected by prorogation. However, CREA continues to advocate on regulations that would sustain other crucial business practices.
Second, hitting the reset button that is prorogation means there is potential for new issues to arise. For this, CREA’s federal affairs team’s inordinate preoccupation with following day-to-day politics and goings on really comes in handy. We will listen closely to the throne speech and track any emerging policy issues that may be brought forward that touch on how REALTORS® and their clients live and do business. This is because, as REALTORS® well know, the first step to success is getting on top of issues early.