Even by telephone you could see the smile on Dave Van Kesteren face as he talked about the passage of his private member’s Bill C591 Wednesday.
“It’s why we’re here,” he said from his Ottawa office of the bill that will deny those convicted of killing their spouse or parents the right to collect government survivor’s benefits.
“The opportunity to have direct impact means a lot to me,” he said. ‘We spend a lot of time working collectively as a caucus and a government, but to take something from the idea stage through to law is a great experience.”
The legislation is officially titled Bill C591, An Act to Amend the Canada Pension Plan and Old Security Act, Pensions and Benefits. It unanimously passed third reading in Parliament and is now off to the Senate for approval.
Van Kesteren said although everyone agrees with the intent of the Bill, getting it into law is still a challenge.
“Governments must spend the majority of their time dealing with the issues of their platforms,” he said. “Getting the time and resources together for other business can be a challenge.”
The Chatham-Kent-Essex MP said said he received “lots of help” from staff to make sure the wording is correct and the law will stand any tests it may encounter.
“Any time legislation is passed, it needs to be as clear as possible,” he said. “It’s not as easy as it seems. No one envisioned the scenario where someone would be financially benefitting from taking the life of another, but that’s where we are. Canadians certainly aren’t in favour of that and neither is the government. It needs to be changed.”
He’s hoping for Senate approval by June, but is concerned that may not happen before next year’s mandated federal election.
If the Senate doesn’t approve the Bill before the election, the entire process would have to be started over.
Since the opportunity to present private members bills is governed by a random selection process, it’s conceivable that the change could be years away.
“I’m going to use my influence with senators, but of course all MPs are going to be doing the same to get their issues to the top of the list,” he said. “This is good legislation and should have a strong chance of passing if the Senate gets to it.”