After receiving royal assent today — the final day of the current parliamentary sitting before the Christmas break — the Liberal government's electoral reform bill, C-76, is now law.
The Trudeau government tabled C-76 last year. It limits the length of federal election campaigns, restricts the amount of spending allowed in the period immediately before a campaign, works to prevent foreign interference and introduces new rules to regulate third-party political activity.
On third parties, the bill would require them to use a dedicated Canadian bank account for payment of election-related spending. It also limits their spending on advertising, surveys and other election-related activities to $1 million in the two months before an election is called, and to $500,000 during the campaign.
Commissioner of Elections Yves Côté told CBC in October that Parliament needed to adopt C-76 by December to give him powers to fight foreign interference and social media abuse in the coming federal election, scheduled for October 2019.
"We have reached a critical moment now and, to me, I would say if this bill is not passed by December, we're going to be in a very, very difficult situation," he said.
Chief Electoral Officer Stéphane Perrault also called for C-76 to be adopted in short order to give him time to implement it during the next election.
Other bills that were given royal assent today include C-21, introduced by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale more than two years ago.
The bill would implement an "entry/exit program" to keep track of when individual Canadians enter and leave the country — information that wasn't always collected in the past.
Bill C-47, the Act to Amend the Export and Import Permits Act, was also given royal assent. The act enables Canada to join the international Arms Trade Treaty — something the Liberals promised they would do during the 2015 election campaign.
And C-51 was made law Thursday. The act purges the Criminal Code of old, outdated laws — often referred to as "zombie laws" — and clarifies the Code when it comes to sexual assault law.