July 21, 2024
The budget is dead, suffocated under the weight of a government's entire agenda
Where the Harperites made no effort to disguise their use of omnibus bills, the Liberals have adopted the innovative technique of passing omnibus bills while denying they are doing so.
Where the Harperites made no effort to disguise their use of omnibus bills, the Liberals have adopted the innovative technique of passing omnibus bills while denying they are doing so.

Parliament has returned, with much on its plate. There are fewer than 40 sitting days before the House is scheduled to rise for the summer, never to return, and nearly as many government bills still mired in the legislative process.

Among them: Bill C-97, the Budget Implementation Act, a 392-page monstrosity that enacts or amends more than 60 different pieces of legislation, on every subject under the sun. Some of its provisions might be considered the usual stuff of budgets, like “repealing the use of taxable income as a factor in determining a Canadian-controlled private corporation’s annual expenditure limit for the purpose of the enhanced scientific research and experimental development tax credit.”

Others are hard to see as having anything to do with the budget: from “providing members of federal credit unions with different methods of voting prior to meetings,” to transferring responsibility for enforcing the Pilotage Act from the Pilotage Authorities to the Minister of Transport, to — notoriously — giving the government the power to reject refugee claimants out of hand “if they have previously made a claim for refugee protection in another country.”

Omnibus bills, as they are called, have become an increasing source of concern as their use — and size — has grown in recent years. The Harper government’s fondness for them so scandalized the opposition Liberals that they promised, in their 2015 election platform “to bring an end to this undemocratic practice,” in that bold, unequivocal style readers will be familiar with.

Needless to say, they have carried right on with this undemocratic practice — indeed, last year’s budget implementation bill, at more than 700 pages, was the largest ever. Being Liberals, however, they cannot admit, even to themselves, that they could ever sink so low as to imitate their hated Conservative predecessors, even as they have adopted the Harper government’s standards on everything from the growth rate of health-care transfers to carbon emissions targets.

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See Also:

(1) Trudeau a punchline on The Simpsons but Lavscam’s no laughing matter

(2) Huawei spat or not, let’s ask why Canada is part of China’s big bank

(3) Carbon tax costs hit families most, PBO reveals

(4) Liberals, Trudeau hit new low, surging Tory support is soft

(5) For the sake of its international reputation, Canada must not grant a DPA to SNC-Lavalin

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