Opposition parties ready to battle another omnibus budget bill as Parliament resumes

Andy Radia
Politics Reporter
Canada Politics

Here we go again.

Parliament resumes next week and it looks as if the Harper government is set to introduce another large budget implementation bill.

According to PostMedia News, the new bill will likely be introduced early in the Fall session and will include "changes to pension plans for federal employees and parliamentarians, a potential sell-off of government assets, and 'refocusing' the National Research Council to concentrate more on demand-driven research that's relevant to industry."

"The Harper government's second budget bill — much like C-38, the initial budget legislation that passed in June — is expected to include a number of contentious changes that have profound impacts on government programs and public services.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty has promised the second budget bill will have "quite a bit" in it, and that "it will be another serious bill" that includes outstanding items mentioned in the budget but left out of the first piece of legislation."

Whether the bill is omnibus in nature remains to be seen.

A large budget implementation bill is simply voluminousness whereas an omnibus bill includes a raft of loosely related measures forced into one package for quick passage. Opposition parties detest such bills, arguing that they subvert Parliament's duty to examine each piece of legislation.

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If the budget implementation bill is omnibus, expect it to spark more national protests and another parliamentary filibuster.

"They used up a lot of capital for what they did, and if they want to keep spending that capital, that's their choice,"  NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen told the Hill Times earlier this month.

"C-38 became a big preoccupation for us because so much was being done to the public in it. … There have been omnibus bills before and there have been budget implementation acts before, but to continue down this path is really threatening to a lot more principles than just sound management. It's democracy that's at stake here."

Cullen added that an omnibus bill would force the New Democrats to use the same delay tactics they used for Bill C-38.

As for the Liberals, they have a two-pronged approach to fighting the Conservatives on omnibus legislation.

Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau recently introduced a motion in the Standing Committee on Procedural and House Affairs to study what reasonable limits should be placed on the consideration of omnibus legislation by Parliament.

The Liberals have also started a petition telling Tories that Canadians are "against the Harper government's use of omnibus bills to ram through legislation in an undemocratic way."

To date, their petition has 1,427 signatures.

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