Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday April 14, 2017
Tiresome omnibus bills
The Trudeau government has introduced a massive piece of legislation that looks very much like the type of omnibus bill it decried when the Conservatives brought in the same thing. And it’s doing it at the same time it’s pushing another law that would do away with such parliamentary maneuvers.
The opposition calls the whole thing “hypocritical.” The government replies that it’s just business as usual. Both appear to be right.
The two major parties have been on both sides of this issue over the years. When the Liberals were in power, they found it convenient to package a lot of measures together in one big bill and force it through Parliament – to the consternation of the Tories. When the Harper Conservatives got into office, they did the same thing while the Liberals cried foul.
The difference this time is that the Trudeau Liberals campaigned on a promise to end this tiresome game, which makes it a lot harder for the opposition to properly examine proposed legislation.
“We will not resort to legislative tricks to avoid scrutiny,” the Liberals vowed in their “Real Change” 2015 campaign platform. Further, they said: “Stephen Harper has … used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating his proposals. We will change the House of Commons Standing Orders to bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”
Now, though, the government has tabled an extensive budget-implementation bill that tips the scales at 307 pages. It includes a host of measures to put into effect its latest budget, as well as making changes that appear to undermine the independence of the Parliamentary Budget Officer.
The opposition calls it an omnibus bill, the very thing the government promised to do away in 2015. And to muddy the waters further, the government has actually floated a series of changes to parliamentary rules that would end omnibus-style legislation. (Continued: Toronto Star)