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Senate passes government budget, net-zero carbon bills before breaking for summer

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The Senate has passed a government bill to mandate the country reach net-zero emissions by 2050, doing so hours before the upper chamber was to rise for the summer and before a possible fall election.

Bill C-12 sets targets for achieving an economy in which any greenhouse gas emissions are offset by other measures. The upper chamber passed it Tuesday with a vote of 60-19, with two abstentions.

It was one of four priority bills the Liberals wanted passed before Parliament took a summer break as the legislation would have died if an election is called before senators and MPs are scheduled to return in September.

Read more: MPs scramble to pass priority bills before summer. But they may stall in the Senate

Senators also voted in favour of Bill C-30, which implements the government’s budget.

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The budget bill cleared the House of Commons last week, with support from the NDP and Bloc Quebecois, paving the way for key commitments that include extensions of pandemic-relief programs like wage and rent subsidies through September.

The other two priority bills — C-10, which would amend the Broadcasting Act to apply Canadian content rules to streaming giants, and C-6, which would ban conversion therapy — were not passed. Bill C-10 was sent to a Senate committee on Tuesday evening, while C-6 met the same fate the previous night.

The Conservatives and NDP have criticized aspects of the budget legislation. The Tories, for their part, have said that it represents the largest intergenerational transfer of financial risk and debt in Canadian history. The New Democrats have decried a cut to the Canada Recovery Benefit while hundreds of thousands are still out of work.

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As for the net-zero bill, the New Democrats pledged their support for the legislation to get to the Senate after saying the government accepted its suggestions requiring it to do more reporting on the progress made up until 2030.

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The Conservatives complained that “climate activists” sat on an outside panel that advised the Liberal government on how to reach net-zero emissions, while the Greens charged the legislation wasn’t strong enough.

Given the Liberals hold a minority of seats in the House of Commons, there is always the possibility of a general election. This fall marks two years since the Liberals were re-elected.

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