By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, December 11, 2012 - 0 Comments
Chantal Chagnon, an aboriginal singer and drummer originally from the Muskeg Lake Cree Nation in Saskatchewan, said the omnibus bill violates First Nations’ treaty rights as well as human rights. “We’re fed up,” Chagnon said. “This new bill coming in, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Regena Crowchild, a treaty consultant with the Tsuu T’ina nation, said the government hasn’t consulted with First Nations groups on the legislation that affects them. “They’re not giving us proper opportunity to address our concerns or talk to them about it,” Crowchild said. “They want to amend the Indian Act without consulting us. All this legislation is just moving towards making us ordinary Canadians with no treaty rights.”
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 6:00 AM - 0 Comments
The House of Commons is filling up—the Prime Minister seems to have brought a large stack of paperwork to keep him busy—and voting on C-45 will soon commence. We’ll be here until the end to observer all the sights, sounds, thrills and chills of democracy in motion (specifically the motion of standing and sitting down repeatedly).
3:43pm. The party whips have been duly applauded and the Speaker is now calling the first vote. Thomas Mulcair receives a round of applause as he leads the votes in favour.
3:45pm. If you’d like to follow along with the commentary from the floor, our list of MPs on Twitter is here.
3:47pm. Mr. Harper receives a round of applause as he leads the nays.
3:51pm. The first vote goes to the nays, 156-134.
3:56pm. Michelle Rempel, Pierre Poilievre, Randy Kamp, Mark Adler, Bob Rae, Vic Toews and Ruth Ellen Brosseau are using the time to sign Christmas cards. Greg Rickford is reading Sports Illustrated. Denis Lebel is going through some paperwork. Megan Leslie and Nathan Cullen are fiddling with their iPads.
3:58pm. The second notes goes to the nays, 147-134. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 27, 2012 at 11:26 AM - 0 Comments
Amid all else yesterday, Nathan Cullen rose on a point of order shortly after Question Period to argue that the way in which C-45 was referred to various committees for study was procedurally illegitimate.
Scott Brison then rose on his own point of order to argue that the maneuvering at the finance committee was out of order.
Meanwhile, the Green Party has recruited Gord Downie, Leslie Feist and Sarah Harmer to oppose C-45′s changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, November 20, 2012 at 1:07 PM - 0 Comments
Scott Brison has submitted some 3,000 amendments to C-45 to be considered by the finance committee. The committee will inevitably run out of time to vote on all those amendments, at which point the House could be asked to consider the proposed changes.
Either way, Elizabeth May says she’ll have about 100 amendments to proposed when the latest budget bill returns to the House. So while the precise duration remains to be seen, some kind of voting marathon appears likely.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 8, 2012 at 4:53 PM - 0 Comments
But NDP MP David Christopherson (Hamilton Centre, Ont.), chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, countered that the government knew the timing meant the committee reviews would be limited. “I think our House leader nailed it right when he said it’s a charade,” Mr. Christopherson said. “The government is trying to give the impression they are acquiescing to the opposition’s request for a more detailed scrutiny of the budget implementation bill, but they are doing it in such a way that, in reality, it’s not going to happen in a way that can have any kind of impact,” he said. “It’s all a charade, it’s all a game. It’s unfortunate because it leaves Canadians with the impression that this government is being transparent and accountable, but the reality is they are not. By having control of all the committees, through their majority vote, they are able to manipulate this process in such a way that it looks like something good is being done, but in reality it’s not really happening, which is sort of the trademark of this government, isn’t it,” Mr. Christopherson said.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, November 1, 2012 at 4:24 PM - 0 Comments
The House is scheduled to be on break for the week of November 12 and the New Democrats and Liberals are thus concerned that the government’s schedule for study of C-45 does not allow committees sufficient time to properly review the bill. A motion from Marc Garneau that would’ve instructed the committees to meet through the break week failed to receive unanimous consent in the House.
Here is Bob Rae’s exchange with the Prime Minister this afternoon.
Bob Rae. Mr. Speaker, in the discussion on the omnibus legislation, it is now clear that because of the short week next week and because of the break the week after, the committees to which all these bills and measures have been referred will have very little time to deal with the substantive matters before them. Would the Prime Minister agree that it would be a much better idea if the House were to direct the committees to meet during the break week so that these substantive measures can be dealt with?
Stephen Harper. Mr. Speaker, traditionally I do not get involved in procedural matters and committees are the masters of their own business. As is very well known, the government tabled the budget in March of this year, with a range of very important measures for the strength of the Canadian economy. We are in a period once again of some global slowdown and we need to be doing everything we can to keep our economy moving forward. I know these things have been before Parliament for a very long time so obviously I would encourage all members to continue their study of them and to act expeditiously in a way that is in the interests of jobs and growth.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, October 22, 2012 at 10:14 AM - 0 Comments
On CBC radio’s The House this weekend, Evan Solomon interviewed Jim Flaherty. During that interview, Solomon raised Stephen Harper’s 1994 point of order about omnibus legislation and asked Mr. Flaherty what had changed since then. Mr. Flaherty responded as follows.
Well, you know, what has changed is that it’s very, very difficult to get a piece of legislation through the House of Commons because of the obstreperous nature of the opposition and so we need to, you know, make sure in the budget—it’s like, the budget itself is 473 pages, which I delivered on March 29. So we took half of it and we did it in the first budget bill. The other half we do in the second budget bill. There are no surprises, it’s all part of jobs, growth and prosperity for the government of Canada. It’s our agenda and we’re a majority government, we’re entitled to advance our agenda. I know the opposition doesn’t like that and good luck to them in the next election.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
In all, C-45, the second budget implementation act, amends or affects the Income Tax Act, Excise Tax Act, Jobs and Economic Growth Act, Federal-Provincial Fiscal Arrangements Act, Trust and Loan Companies Act, Bank Act, Insurance Companies Act, the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act, Canada Shipping Act, 2001, Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation Act, Payment Clearing and Settlement Act, Fisheries Act, Schedule I of the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act, Canada Pension Plan, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act, Indian Act, Judges Act, Canada Labour Code, Merchant Seamen Compensation Act, Customs Act, Hazardous Materials Information Review Act, Agreement on Internal Trade Implementation Act, Crown Liability and Proceedings Act, Employment Insurance Act, Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Fees Act, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation Act, Navigable Waters Protection Act, Canada Grain Act, An Act to amend the Canada Grain Act and the Agriculture and Agri-Food Administrative Monetary Penalties Act and to Repeal the Grain Futures Act, International Interests in Mobile Equipment (aircraft equipment) Act, Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, 2012, Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board Act, Canada Employment Insurance Financing Board Act, Department of Human Resources and Skills Development Act, Schedule III to the Financial Administration Act, Canadian Forces Superannuation Act, Members of Parliament Retiring Allowances Act, Public Service Superannuation Act, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Superannuation Act and Canada Revenue Agency Act
It also enacts a new bill, the Bridge To Strengthen Trade Act, which “excludes the application of certain Acts to the construction of a bridge that spans the Detroit River and other works and to their initial operator … establishes ancillary measures” and “amends the International Bridges and Tunnels Act.”
By The Canadian Press - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 4:53 PM - 0 Comments
OTTAWA – The finance minister says there will be no surprises when the Conservative government tables its next budget bill.
OTTAWA – The finance minister says there will be no surprises when the Conservative government tables its next budget bill.
Jim Flaherty’s second budget implementation act, to be introduced Thursday, is expected to contain measures to reform MP and public sector pensions, as well as a host of tax changes.
It follows last spring’s controversial omnibus bill, which drew widespread criticism for bundling together changes to dozens of laws.
Critics described the original legislation as a “Trojan horse” bill designed to conceal unpopular changes to things like environmental assessment and employment insurance provisions.
In protest, the opposition introduced hundreds of amendments to the bill, forcing a marathon 24-hour voting session in hopes of drawing awareness to the government’s tactics.
NDP Leader Tom Mulcair says he’s taking a wait-and-see approach to the new bill before deciding whether his party will take a similar approach this time around.
By Aaron Wherry - Wednesday, October 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Atop the notice paper this morning, under “introduction of government bills,” is the following.
The Minister of Finance — Bill entitled “A second Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures”.
That is the official notice of the government’s intention to table its second budget implementation act. You will remember the first bill to implement certain provisions of the budget as C-38.
With its addition to the notice paper, the bill could be tabled in the House as early as Thursday.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, October 16, 2012 at 11:13 AM - 0 Comments
The House is presently considering the Liberal motion on the use of omnibus legislation.
Here again is the point of order from a young Stephen Harper.
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, September 25, 2012 at 11:36 AM - 0 Comments
Scott Clark and Peter DeVries review the recent trouble with omnibus budget bills and suggest reforms.
First, the Budget Plan needs to be much more explicit on the proposed policy initiatives. The Budget should provide sufficient details and background information on the proposed initiatives for Parliamentary assessment and for a better understanding by the public at large and other interested parties. The Auditor General should be asked to review the adequacy of the information to be provided.
Second, Budget Omnibus Bills should include only proposed tax/revenue changes and issues related to borrowings. The House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance and the Senate Finance Committee should consider these. Third, all proposed spending initiatives should be presented either through the Main Estimates or through separate legislation and submitted to the applicable Parliamentary Committees for review.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, September 20, 2012 at 4:25 PM - 0 Comments
Again this afternoon, the Liberals asked the Conservatives to table a separate bill to deal with MP pensions. The Conservatives don’t seem interested.
Marc Garneau: Mr. Speaker, yesterday I asked the government for a separate bill on MP pension reform so that Canadians could see how their MPs support this very important bill in a stand-alone fashion. I did not get an answer. Is the Prime Minister worried about a backlash from his own backbench members if he does not force this down their throats as part of a single budget bill? I have a proposition for him. How about a separate stand-alone bill, and the Liberals will co-operate in fast-tracking it? This is the kind of thing Canadians expect: transparency from their government.
Tony Clement: Mr. Speaker, we will not have a separate stand-alone bill when it comes to MP pensions or salaries. We will have a budget implementation bill that is focused on jobs, the economy and economic growth in this country, as we indicated previously. I am not surprised that the Liberals and the NDP on the other side have already voiced their opposition to this bill without even seeing it. That is how they operate. However, we are focused on jobs and economic growth for this country and we will continue to be so.
By Aaron Wherry - Monday, September 17, 2012 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
The prospect of a second budget bill figures prominently and Thomas Mulcair was asked about that legislation yesterday in his interview with Tom Clark.
Tom Clark: I’m wondering, the government has also said that it is going to be bringing in another omnibus bill like we saw last spring on the Budget Implementation Act. Now when that happened last spring, you and your party put up a parliamentary protest about it. We had the marathon voting session. If there’s an omnibus bill put in front of the House this fall, what are you going to do?
Thomas Mulcair: Well they could surprise us and put something interesting in it so I won’t presume it in advance but as we say in French, “le passé est en garante l’avenir.” You know, since the past behaviour sometimes guarantees what they’re going to do in the future you can expect some of the things that they would be doing to be completely contrary to what Canada needs right now. We need a government that doesn’t just wash its hands of all these economic problems. You have to look at it in a clear-eyed manor and say, okay, we’re losing the balanced economy we built up since the Second World War. We’re killing off manufacturing sector; we’ve got to try to get some of that back. If that bill does the same thing as the last one, we didn’t just use our tools in Parliament, we went across Canada. You know people from Victoria to St. John’s were organizing meetings. Hundreds of people came out to those meetings and we were able to point out what they were doing. Requiring people to work two more years to get their Old Age Security, gutting Employment Insurance, especially in regions that rely a lot on seasonal employment, and of course, as I mentioned before, going after environmental legislation in a way that will leave a huge deficit for future generations, this time on the ecological front.
Tom Clark: But are you saying though that if the measures in an omnibus bill are measures that you think are positive or at least take the country in the right direction, that you may support it?
Thomas Mulcair: We’ve always tried to take a balanced approach. You know, we’ve believed that as the Opposition, of course sometimes we’re going to oppose because we have diametrically opposed views to the Conservatives on certain issues, but on the other hand, we’re also about proposing and if there are things in there that can help bring solutions, of course we’ll support them.
Tom Clark: So you’re not fundamentally opposed to the idea of an omnibus bill then?
Thomas Mulcair: Well it depends what’s in it and when you go after things like environmental legislation that has nothing to do with your budget, that’s using the budget bill as a Trojan horse. You’re hiding things in there. People expect a budget bill to be just about that; about numbers, about what’s going to be spent or not spent in the economy. That is what you’re expecting to see. They’re using the old American method of having a bill where you tack on hundreds of riders, you know, pork barrel things that have nothing to do with the budget but everything to do with their right wing agenda.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, June 8, 2012 at 12:35 PM - 0 Comments
Earlier today, NDP House leader Nathan Cullen stood in the House to respond to Elizabeth May’s point of order. Marc Garneau, for the Liberals, and Peter Van Loan, for the Conservatives, responded yesterday. The Speaker says he will get back to the House in “due course.”
Below, the text of Mr. Cullen’s remarks. Continue…
By Aaron Wherry - Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 11:18 AM - 0 Comments
Nathan Cullen has just finished speaking about what the NDP might be preparing to do next in regards to C-38.
The New Democrats have apparently tabled more than 50 amendments to the budget bill at the finance committee. If those amendments are defeated by Conservative MPs on the committee, the bill will return to the House unchanged. At that point, Elizabeth May, as an independent MP who does not sit on the committee, will be allowed to propose substantive amendments. She says she will have approximately 200 such amendments. The Liberals and NDP, as participants in the committee study, will not be allowed to propose substantive amendments, but they will be able to move that individual clauses be deleted. And there are more than 700 clauses in the budget bill.
Mr. Cullen raised the possibility of doubling the number of votes—conceivably from 200 amendments to 400 total amendments and clause deletions. There is some question as to whether the Speaker could group some of those deletions together for a single vote, but, in theory, there remains the possibility of hundreds of votes.
Of course, in the meantime, there is Ms. May’s point of order that will have to be dealt with. More on that later today.
For our complete coverage of the budget implementation act see here.
By Scott Feschuk - Friday, June 1, 2012 at 11:54 AM - 0 Comments
A brick in the toilet tank of democracy.
Until recently, I wasn’t that big a fan of Conservative MP David Wilks, possibly on account of never having heard of him.
But he’s made quite an impression of late. First, Wilks spoke in favour of Stephen Harper’s omnibus budget bill. Then he told some constituents the legislation was flawed and overstuffed—and he would oppose it, even if it meant leaving caucus. About five minutes later, Wilks ever-so-slightly altered his position on the bill once more—now he was totally for it again.
Kudos to you, David Wilks. It is said that some members of Parliament are afraid to take a stand—but here we have an MP with the courage to take several.
Is it too soon to get excited about a David Wilks re-election speech in 2015? I say no.
By Aaron Wherry - Friday, May 11, 2012 at 2:51 PM - 0 Comments
On the afternoon of January 26, 1971, Robert McCleave, the Progressive Conservative MP for Halifax-East Hants, rose on a point of order to complain about Bill C-207, the Government Organization Act. In Mr. McCleave’s opinion, the bill should not be read a second time, but rather be divided as it contained “at least seven distinct proposals or principles.”
I suggest to Your Honour that there is more than one proposal or principle involved in this bill, and therefore, having regard to the very ancient privilege of the House that members should not be asked to give simple answers to what are, in effect, several questions intermingled together, I ask Your Honour to take the position of ordering that the bill be divided when the vote comes so that honourable members have a chance to make a decision on each proposal.
A discussion—including contributions from revered parliamentarians Allan MacEachen and Stanley Knowles, among others—ensued. After various members had had their say, Speaker Lucien Lamoureux ruled. It was this ruling that Young Stephen Harper invoked when he objected to the Liberal government’s budget implementation act in 1994.