Parliament Starts Omnibus Budget Vote Marathon
26+ hrs of voting expected on 452-page omnibus budget bill, starting Wednesday
June 13, 2012
OTTAWA – Members of Parliament are heading to the House of Commons with camping supplies in preparation for an expected 159 votes on the government’s omnibus budget implementation bill, C-38, to start Wednesday after 5pm. With each vote expected to take approximately 10 minutes, Thunder Bay-Superior North MP Bruce Hyer is estimating he will be voting straight through the night and Thursday until the evening. Once voting starts, there are to be no breaks.
“The Canadian Parliament has never seen such a mammoth budget implementation bill with so many wide-ranging changes to Canadian law,” noted Hyer. “It’s 452 pages long and scraps or re-writes 70 statutes on the books. Most of them, like the Environmental Assessment Act, the Fair Wages & Hours of Labour Act or the Auditor General Act, have little or nothing to do with actually implementing a budget. The changes amount to the most significant single re-write of Canadian law in history. So it is no surprise that 871 amendments were introduced, which the Speaker has grouped, resulting in up to 159 votes.”
Critics have questioned how Parliament can provide proper scrutiny on a bill of this scope in the normal time allotted for review, even before the Government moved to limit debate in the House to only a few hours. In the past, critics of the democratic nature of omnibus bills have included a Reform MP from Calgary named Stephen Harper.
In the House of Commons Tuesday Hyer rose to quote a younger Harper: “Mr. Speaker, in 1994 the Member of Parliament for Calgary West spoke in this House regarding a Liberal omnibus budget implementation bill, one that was a lot smaller that this bill before the House today. He said, ‘In the interest of democracy, I ask: How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation? How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse?’”
Hyer further quoted Harper: “The Member from Calgary went on to say, ‘I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.’ Mr Speaker, that Member is now the Prime Minister, and it is time he heeded his own words,” Hyer affirmed.
Join Bruce on:
69 N. Court Street
Thunder Bay, ON
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Bruce Hyer, MP
House of Commons