Prorogation: What it means for the Fall Session at Queen’s Park

Today, Premier Wynne’s government announced its intention to seek prorogation of the Ontario legislature.

What does this mean for business at Queen’s Park?
While the essential work of government continues, Bills that were not passed in the last session are now dead and will need to go back to step one and be re-introduced. Legislative committee work will proceed anew once the legislature is re-constituted.

What is the rationale for this action?
Prorogation gives the Wynne government the opportunity to “clear the decks” and re-focus their priorities in advance of a 2018 election. Rumours of possible prorogation began in the Spring, after the majority Liberal government passed most of its key legislative priorities including: cap-and-trade, the budget bill – which contains the transit program, and partial privatization of Hydro One.

Recent polling has suggested that the Ontario Liberals are losing popularity. The Wynne government will use prorogation as a tool to reset their policy agenda as part as a two year effort to re-build public support.

What happens next?
The Legislature is expected to return on September 12. The greatest attention will be on a new Speech from the Throne that will outline the government’s priorities for the next two years, officially re-start the Fall legislative session, and in some respects signal the battlegrounds on which the Wynne government will want to fight the next election.

Once the legislature is reconvened, many of the bills that died on the order paper will be re-introduced at first reading, and legislative committees will be re-constituted. Expect new legislation to be introduced that will reflect the government’s new priorities as outlined in the Speech from the Throne.

Can the government fast-track Bills that died as a result of prorogation?
No, all Bills that were not passed in the previous session must be re-introduced at first reading. While the majority Wynne government has the ability to control the legislative agenda, it cannot advance Bills without following the normal procedural process. The government can still introduce a motion to maintain a bill after prorogation; however it would require the support of the opposition parties.

Some of the Bills that were not passed in the last session and are likely to be re-introduced by the government this session include:
Bill 210: Patients First Act
Bill 201: Election Finances Statute
Bill 155 Mining Amendments Act
Bill 156 Alternative Financial Services
Bill 204: Promoting Affordable Housing Act
Bill 193: Door to Door Sales Prohibition Act

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