All you need to know about the bloated omnibus budget bill

The massive budget implementation bill is a step closer to becoming law.

The latest move to ram through C-4? Cutting off debate on the floor of the House of Commons this week to get to a final vote on Friday.

 

Key numbers about the bloated bill

  • Laws to be amended: 50
  • Pages in the bill: 322
  • Days permitted by the Conservatives for Second Reading debate in the House of Commons: 5
  • Hours of debate at the House of Commons Finance Committee: 10.5
  • Number of amendments after the bill was studied at Finance Committee, where Conservative MPs hold a majority of seats: 0


Three examples of measures in the legislation that have nothing to do with budget implementation

  1. An amendment to the Supreme Court Act to clarify appointment rules for judges from Quebec.
  2. Sixty amendments to the Canada Labour Code, including a watered down definition of danger to make it harder for workers to refuse dangerous work, and new rules to appeal the definition.
  3. Twenty-three amendments to the Public Service Labour Relations Act, including deleting the existing definition of “essential” and replace it with one described as anything that the government in its “exclusive right” determines is or will be necessary for the safety or security of the public.

 

The bottom line: in the PM's own words

I would argue that the subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles.... First, there is a lack of relevancy of these issues. The omnibus bills we have before us attempt to amend several different existing laws. Second, 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 and on such concerns?

That's Stephen Harper in 1994, speaking on a point of order in the House of Commons. Harper, a Reform MP at the time, was objecting the Liberal government's omnibus budget implementation bill. It was 21 pages. Non-budgetary measures included: public sector compensation freezes; a freeze in Canada assistance plan payments and Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act transfers; an extension of transportation subsidies; an authorization for the CBC to borrow money; and changes to unemployment insurance.

Photo: sbc9. Used under a Creative Commons BY 2.0 licence.