Ontario.

Author:Rennie, Eric
 
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The First Session of the 42nd Parliament resumed on October 28, 2019; sitting until December 12, 2019 when it adjourned for the winter recess. The busy fall sitting saw substantial changes made to the Standing Orders, and Royal Assent granted to five government bills, two private Members' public bills and eight private bills.

Standing Order Changes

On November 27, 2019, Paul Calandra, Government House Leader, moved a motion to propose several changes to the Standing Orders. The motion carried as amended on December 4, 2019, and came into effect on February 18, 2020. As a newly added Standing Order, the Speaker is now authorized to alter the application of any Standing Order or practice of the House in order to permit the full participation in proceedings of any Member with a disability. The Standing Orders also now provide for the use of laptops, tablets and smartphones in the Chamber and committee rooms as long as they are operated silently, do not impair decorum, and are not used as a telephone, recording device, camera or prop. While Members have been using electronic devices in the legislature for years, this new Standing Order officially codifies unwritten practices.

A number of changes have been made relating to the participation of Independent Members in proceedings of the current Parliament. For the duration of the 42nd Parliament, Independent Members will be able to participate in debate on opposition day motions and time allocation motions, which are normally limited to Members of recognized parties.

One of the changes that garnered the most debate was the removal of a restriction on calling a government bill for debate on both the morning and afternoon meetings of the House on the same Sessional day. It was argued that this change would allow bills to pass much more quickly.

However, on December 11, 2019, the House amended the earlier changes to provide that without unanimous consent, no government bill shall be called during an evening meeting of the House if that same bill has been called on both the morning and afternoon meetings on that same Sessional day. This motion carried unanimously.

Lastly, the Standing Orders now specify that following Prayers on the first sitting Monday of each month, the Canadian National Anthem (O Canada) and the Royal Anthem (God Save the Queen) shall be sung in the Chamber.

Ministerial Changes

On October 21, 2019, the Premier announced changes to ministerial responsibilities that affected three...

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