PCs to shake up standing orders

By Sabrina Nanji September 15, 2020

PC house leader Paul Calandra is proposing a raft of changes to the standing orders, the rulebook governing legislative proceedings at Queen’s Park. 
A major change — one that has rankled the NDP — is to scrap reasoned amendments. Opposition MPPs can tack on reasoned amendments to government bills they don’t like in order to push for more consultation or a redraft, which delays second-reading debate by two days. 
While reasoned amendments are traditionally applied to omnibus bills, the NDP has been tabling them for many government bills. Calandra contends they’ve been “improperly used” and the NDP’s recent ones were “non-substantive.” 
NDP house leader Gilles Bisson slammed the move, saying the Ford government is giving itself “the power to ram through their bills practically overnight, with no consultation, no public input, no time for media or the public to read them, and no notice given to the people those bills could hurt.” 
Another change that opposition, independent and backbench MPPs might be warmer to is more time to debate private member’s bills and motions. 
Instead of debating three PMBs on Thursdays, debates will take place one bill a time on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday — plus a temporary debate on Monday mornings until June 2021, to make up for lost time during the emergency summer sittings. PMB votes will also be deferred to the mornings after question period, rather than late on Thursday afternoons, so more MPPs can have their say. 
The PCs will also give up two of their six friendly question period spots to the Independents, a practice carried over from the summer. 
An “unintended” loophole from the last round of changes that could allow a bill to be passed in a single day (after being debated in the morning, afternoon and evening) will also be closed.