It’s a crucial week for Members of Parliament as the government’s highly criticized omnibus bill enters its final reading in the House of Commons.
Oppositions MPs have prepared hundreds of amendments with deletions and other changes to Bill C-38, the government’s omnibus bill implementing its budget, which aims to change more than 70 laws, as well as to create some new ones, in areas as disparate as border security, retirement and the environment.
The Speaker of the House is expected to rule on Monday at noon, how the amendments will be dealt with along the week, whether every one of them needs to be voted separately or some will be grouped or dismissed. The move to file so many amendments at once is a last-ditch effort of the opposition to force an exhausting voting marathon as they failed earlier in persuading the governing Conservative majority to split the bill into separate areas to debate individually.
“The content is flawed in many respects and they just want to bulldoze through the whole process,” said NDP deputy finance critic Guy Caron, quoted in the National Post. On the other side, the government is accusing the opposition of simply delaying the process.
“The opposition aren’t looking to change this. Let’s be frank – they’re looking to stop it, to delay it, to obstruct it,” says the government House leader Peter Van Loan to the CBC.
In the whole process, one particular MP may come out this week much more visible than she was a week ago. Green Party Elizabeth May, who as an independent MP is technically allowed to propose changes to the bill while the Liberals and the NDP can only suggest deletions. “My amendments are not about delaying,” said May to the Globe and Mail, “My amendments are about ensuring that C-38, if passed, is not a disastrous piece of legislation.”
For continuing coverage of Bill C-38, keep watch on Aaron Wherry’s blog.