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Ndp, Government Debate Splitting Omnibus Budget Bill


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NDP, government debate splitting omnibus budget bill

NDP wants 400-page omnibus bill split into five measures; Tories accuse them of stalling

By Laura Payton, CBC News

Posted: May 7, 2012 12:08 PM ET

Last Updated: May 7, 2012 6:32 PM ET

Read 296comments296

New Democrats are calling for MPs to vote to split the budget implementation bill, a 400-page document detailing major changes to subjects as varied as environmental regulations and immigration law.

The party is tabling a motion in the House Monday to split the bill so that MPs can debate it by section and so it doesn't go as a whole to finance committee rather than the subject-specific committees who deal regularly with some of the issues covered in the budget.

"This bill contains many distinct proposals and principles. The Conservatives' 400-page omnibus bill does little to help our economy or get people back to work. But it does gut environmental protection and rewrite Canada's fisheries laws," NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said, referring to two of the measures included in the budget bill.

New Democrats want the bill broken into at least five sections, Cullen said, including the environment, fisheries and other subjects. While it's supposed to be a budget bill, two-thirds of it concerns environmental measures, he added.

"It is inappropriate to put so many sweeping changes to so many different areas in the budget bill," he added.

"A bad budget lasts a year. These implementations will last perhaps a generation."

The motion calls for some sections of the bill, C-38, to be pulled out and grouped under the heading C-38A. It would start the process at second reading in the House, the stage before it goes to committee for study.

Cullen was due to meet with Government House Leader Peter Van Loan late Monday afternoon. The New Democrat said he was optimistic because the government asked for more information about his proposal.

Opposition can use subcommittee to study bill

Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver defended the government's use of an omnibus bill to pass changes to environmental regulations, arguing he has spoken to Canadians about it and the opposition can put knowledgeable MPs on the committee studying it.

The finance committee studies budgetary measures. Oliver says a subcommittee will look at the environmental changes in the bill.

"The study will be a public exchange with witnesses from every side of the debate," he said

"The membership of the committee will be set by each party’s whip to ensure that relevant critics can study these important changes."

Cullen says the government is becoming what they used to oppose before Stephen Harper became prime minister.

"Not only could they do this the proper way and probably just with the votes that they have win, the challenge they have is they want as little scrutiny as possible. This is a pathology within this government."

The government isn't interested in splitting the bill, a spokesman for Van Loan said. That means the NDP likely won't garner enough support to break the bill apart for more scrutiny.

"Today's proposal by the NDP is just another attempt to delay this important job-creating bill. The NDP's opposition is simply an ideological response to the budget which they opposed from the moment it was introduced," Van Loan said in a statement.

The budget bill contains measures to repeal the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, set timelines for environmental assessment hearings, gives the federal cabinet the authority to approve new pipeline projects and overhauls the Fisheries Act to focus only on major waterways.

'Scandalous,' 'illegitimate' bill

Green Party Leader Elizabeth May called what the government is doing "scandalous" and "illegitimate."

"They’re actually gutting key pieces of environmental law that were never once mentioned in the budget," she said.

"It’s an extremely complex piece of legislation, badly drafted, it is certainly not user-friendly to industry or other levels of government."

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty says all the measures are part of the government's economic plan.

"The budget is a comprehensive document. It is a general statement of government policy, not just for the next year but for the next decade and the next generation. And, yes, it requires a lot of legislation but Parliament can work hard and we’ll get it done," he said.

Environment groups not 'accused of criminal activity'

The government has had a testy relationship with environmental advocacy groups, with Oliver referring to some as radical.

Last week, Environment Minister Peter Kent accused some environment groups of money laundering, although he wouldn't name any of the ones he had in mind.

"Essentially what our government is doing through the finance committee is investigating allegations that offshore funds have improperly been funnelled through — laundered if you will, that's a fairly accurate word — through Canadian organizations that have charitable status to be used in ways that would be improper given that charitable status," Kent told Evan Solomon, host of CBC's Power & Politics, on Tuesday.

Pressed whether the use of the word "laundering" suggests criminal activity, Kent said: "There are allegations — and we have very strong suspicions — that some funds have come into the country improperly to obstruct, not to assist, in the environmental assessment process," Kent said.

The environmental review process is intended to determine whether a project poses adverse environment effects and whether those effects can be mitigated.

Money laundering is a crime where the proceeds of illegal activity are concealed or converted to look like they came from a legitimate source.

Imagine Canada, an umbrella group that represents charities, has demanded Kent name the charities or retract the comments.

Asked for his view, Oliver said, "I haven’t used that term and I don’t think people were being accused of criminal activity."

http://www.cbc.ca/ne...ation-bill.html

Of course, Harper has rebutted omnibus-type bills in the past...

Budget Implementation Act, 1994

Government Orders

March 25th, 1994 / 10:05 a.m.

Reform

132_1_jpg_67x90_crop_first-28,20,68,20_q85.jpg

Stephen HarperCalgary West, AB

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order to make a procedural argument concerning the omnibus nature of this piece of legislation.

This is a new Parliament which I think has been working reasonably well in spite of our recent difficulties. I really would like to call the attention of the Chair to the nature of this particular bill and to urge the Chair to re-examine a practice we have fallen into.

The particular bill before us, Bill C-17, is of an omnibus nature. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you should rule it out of order and it should not be considered by the House in the form in which it has been presented. I would hope that in making your decision on the acceptability of Bill C-17 in its present form you

will refer to the famous ruling by Mr. Lamoureux of January 26, 1971 in which he said:

However, where do we stop? Where is the point of no return? The hon. member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I believe the hon. member for Edmonton West, said that we might reach a point where we would have only one bill, a bill at the start of the session for the improvement of the quality of the life in Canada which would include every single proposed piece of legislation for the session. That would be an omnibus bill with a capital
O
and a capital
B
. But would it be acceptable legislation? There must be a point where we can go beyond what is acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint.

Even though the Speaker in that case went on to rule that this point had not been reached, I submit to you that it has become a standard practice with governments to bring in omnibus legislation following every budget under what we might call the kitchen sink approach.

Beauchesne's sixth edition, citation 626 bears directly on this aspect of the matter. It states:

(1) Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the contents of a bill. They must be relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.

Mr. Speaker, 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.

In this present case, the drafters of Bill C-17 have incorporated in the same bill the following measures: public sector compensation freezes; a freeze in Canada assistance plan payments and Public Utilities Income Tax Transfer Act transfers; extension and deepening of transportation subsidies; authorization for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to borrow money; and changes to unemployment insurance with respect to benefits and the payroll taxes.

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?

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

The bill contains many distinct proposals and principles and asking members to provide simple answers to such complex questions is in contradiction to the conventions and practices of the House.

As well this will cause fairly serious difficulties in committee. This bill will ultimately go to only one committee of the House, a committee that will inevitably lack the breadth of expertise required for consideration of a bill of this scope. Furthermore, the workload of that committee will be onerous and it will be very difficult to give due consideration to all relevant opinion.

In concluding my point of order, I would like to quote the hon. member for Windsor West, the government House leader who said on May 30, 1988: "For all the reasons I have given, I respectfully submit that this bill is of improper omnibus nature. This is consistent with what I consider and I respectfully submit to be, the relevant precedents. This is consistent with the traditions of the House and, more important, the purpose of those traditions in terms of the relevance of this House to the life of the country now and in the future".

This is a new Parliament. I do ask that we take a new approach to this in spite of previous rulings on this matter. I would ask that you give consideration to this, Mr. Speaker. I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.

http://openparliamen...ephen-harper-1/

Hell of a leader, guys. Hell of a leader. :lol:

Oh yeah, Common Sense - this is what MulcairsNDP.ca states on the front page:

Mr. Mulcair’s NDP have blocked reasonable measures to put the rights of victims first, fighting to defend a criminal justice system that privileges the rights of criminals at the public’s expense. They have gone to great lengths to prevent responsible development of Canada’s natural resources, going so far as to travel abroad to criticize their own country.
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‘To allow C-38 to masquerade as a legitimate omnibus bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute’

by

Aaron Wherry on Monday, June 4, 2012 12:05pm - 11 Comments

Elizabeth May has just risen in the House on a point of order to argue that C-38 is an “imperfect” bill—seeStanding Order 68(3)—and should be ruled out of order by the Speaker.

Below, the prepared text of Ms. May’s point of order.

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order related to Bill C-38. My point of order is based on Standing Order 68(3): “No bill may be introduced either in blank or imperfect shape.”

First, let me set aside the argument I will not be advancing. I will not argue that C-38 goes too far as an omnibus bill or that it should be split. I will argue that C-38 is not properly an omnibus bill at all and therefore cannot benefit from the trend toward over-large and complex omnibus legislation.

I seek a ruling that the bill has not been put forward in its proper form and is therefore “imperfect” and must be set aside.

The first observation deals with the nature of the “shape” of a bill at First Reading.

“ ‘Shape,’ according to the Oxford Concise Dictionary, is a synonym for ‘form.’ Therefore a bill according to Standing Order 69 must not be in imperfect form. The question of a bill’s form is extensively dealt with in our parliamentary authorities, such as Beauschene and Erskine May…” (p.15479)

(Per Harvie Andre (Calgary Centre) March 1, 1982, referring to same Standing Order as previously numbered SO 69).

Having said I do not intend to argue the bill must be split as being overly large for an omnibus bill, I do believe there is a compelling case that the House must act to set limits around omnibus legislation. Speaker Lamoureux stated his concern that some limits must be established in his well-known musings on this subject (January 26, 1971):

“However, where do we stop? Where is the point of no return? The honourable member for Winnipeg North Centre, and I believe the honourable member for Edmonton West, said that we might reach the point where we would have only one bill, a bill at the start of the session for the improvement of the quality of life in Canada which would include every proposed piece of legislation for the session. That would be an omnibus bill with a capital ‘O’ and a capital ‘B.’ But would it be acceptable from a strictly parliamentary standpoint?” (p.2768).

This is a critical question, but for another time and for the House itself. Rulings from Speakers Sauvé, Fraser, Parent, and Milliken have confirmed Lamoureux’s misgivings, but as well a general traditional view that it is not for the Speaker to say an omnibus bill has gone too far in terms of its length or in terms of the numbers of different items or complex matters in one bill.

My point of order does not rest on argumentation that 420 pages is too long for an omnibus bill, nor that amending, repealing and/or re-instating seventy different acts of Parliament goes too far. So long as a bill meets the tests of being an omnibus bill, tradition will allow it.

In order to honour and respect the Standing Orders of this House, any proposed omnibus bill must conform to the established criteria of an omnibus bill. Furthermore, to be accepted as a budget omnibus bill, the proposed legislation must further conform to the rule that the implementation legislation must relate to commitments made in the budget document itself.

The tests for a proper omnibus bill are well-established:

O’Brien and Bosc:

“An omnibus bill has ‘one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the Bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes.’ One of the reasons cited for introducing an omnibus bill is to bring together in a single bill all the legislative amendments arising from a single policy decision in order to facilitate parliamentary debate.” (at p.724, emphasis added)

Citation 626 of Beauchesne’s 6
th
edition (quoted by Speaker Fraser at p. 9148, April 1, 1992):

“Although there is no specific set of rules or guidelines governing the content of a bill, there should be a theme of relevancy amongst the content of a bill. There must be a theme relevant to and subject to the umbrella which is raised by the terminology of the long title of the bill.”(Emphasis added)

Per Speaker Fraser June 8, 1988 (p 16255):

“The essential defence of an omnibus procedure is that the bill in question, although it may seem to create or to amend many disparate statutes, in effect has one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes.” (citing Hon Member for Windsor West in debate)

Speaker Fraser went on to say, “I believe that his definition will stand the test of time and be useful to the House and future chair occupants for years to come.” (June 8, 1988, p.16255)

It is worth noting that while the 1982 Energy Bill was split through the action of the House, due to the determined action of the Opposition, and not by the Speaker, Speaker Fraser holds the Energy Bill up and by inference uses it as an example of a bill that went too far in its attempt to claim all legislative changes fit a common purpose. He compares and contrasts it with the Free Trade legislation which formed the context in which his lengthy and detailed canvassing of the issues took place in 1988. The implication is clear that, in Speaker Fraser’s view, the 1982 Energy Bill failed the test of the omnibus definition he had put forward. As such, although it is at best obiter dicta, it does serve to add weight to the notion that simply calling legislation “omnibus” will not assure that it can be accepted as such.

His final summation on the detailed ruling does indeed confirm that the Speaker has the authority to find if a bill is in the proper shape. The Speaker has the authority to determine if a piece of legislation meets the test of being a true “omnibus bill.”

Speaker Fraser ruled:

“Bill C-130 is indeed an omnibus bill – it meets the definition as stated by the Hon. Member for Windsor West in that it has a single purpose, while amending various statutes but without further guidance from the House and based on the practice to this day, it should be allowed to proceed without interference from the Chair.” (p. 16258, June 8, 1988)

It is clear that the Speaker is not (at present and in the absence of rules from the House to limit the length and complexities of omnibus bills) entitled to rule that an omnibus bill is too long, too complex or too broad in its scope. It is also clear that a Speaker is entitled to determine if legislation purporting to be an omnibus bill is actually in the proper shape to be considered an omnibus bill. The tests are also clear. To be an omnibus bill it must have “a single purpose.”

Bill C-38 is “imperfect.” It fails the tests of being a proper omnibus bill:

1) It fails to have a central theme, “one basic principle or purpose,” in order to be legitimized as a reasonable basis for debate and study;

2) It fails to provide a link between items in C-38 and the budget itself ;

3) It fails by omitting actions, regulatory and legislative changes described by representatives of the Privy Council as part of Bill C-38. The omission of items that the Ministers and honourable members speaking for Privy Council assert are in C-38 further confirms the bill is imperfect, unready and requiring a re-working.

I will take each of these failings in turn.

Bill C-38 has no theme, no basic principle

Firstly, Bill C-38 does not have a “theme of relevancy,” “one basic principle or purpose,” nor does it arise from a “single policy decision.”

I anticipate that the Conservative Privy Council Officers will respond that its theme is the budget. It is titled “An act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.”

A budget is no longer a fiscal statement comprising changes to the
Income Tax Act
and other tax measures. It is understood to be a policy statement, and, as such, a policy statement that can be considered a theme.

Commentators have warned that this trend undermines the role of Parliament in proper oversight of the public purse and of individual pieces of legislation. Professor Ned (C.E.S.) Franks, Professor Emeritus at Queen’s University, wrote in 2010 that:

Canadian budget implementation acts… have morphed from short bills dealing with minor items mentioned in the budget speech to enormous omnibus bills…. Parliament cannot study them properly….These omnibus budget implementation bills subvert and evade the normal principles of parliamentary review of legislation. (“Omnibus bills subvert our legislative process,” Globe and Mail, July 14, 2010).

As the anti-democratic risks of omnibus bills draw greater scrutiny, the links to policy must not be accepted on faith. Nor should they be loose or sloppy in analysis. Much rides on knowing that there is a legitimate link between the measures in an omnibus budget bill and the budget itself. If the link is not there, the legislation fails to meet the tests of an omnibus bill.

The failure of opposition parties in recent years to adequately challenge the creeping nature of omnibus budget bills cannot, in itself, create precedents. The silence of opposition parties, and therefore of the Speaker, do not create affirmative approval of the so-called omnibus budget bills of 2009 and 2010.

Returning to the first test of whether the bill is properly an “omnibus” bill, Bill C-38 does not have one central theme.

Even if one accepts that the budget document of March 29, 2012, with its myriad policy and fiscal initiatives, represents a “theme,” “a single purpose,” Bill C-38 contains much that was simply never mentioned in the budget, and which further fails to have more than a fanciful connection to the public relations short title of the bill “Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity.”

This is frankly baffling. Budget 2012 covers hundreds of areas. There was no limit or restriction for the Minister of Finance in the topics that were chosen for inclusion. The Privy Council Officers who signed off on the March 29 budget had abundant opportunity to ensure that nothing included in C-38, the Budget Implementation Act, would fall outside the scope of the budget itself. Had they done so, the affront to Parliament would, at least, fall within our rules. The respect for the Westminster Parliamentary tradition and our role as Parliamentarians would not have been so egregiously abused.

As it is, I maintain that C-38 fails to meet the first test to ascertain whether it is properly an omnibus budget bill – whether the measures in C-38 are included in the budget itself. The following examples establish that C-38 fails to provide a link between items in C-38 and the budget itself.

Aspects of C-38 not found in budget 2012:

While “streamlining,” eliminating duplicative reviews and time-limits for of reviews under the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
were flagged in the budget, the fact that the Act was to be repealed was never mentioned in the March 2012 Budget. The budget suggested important amendments to the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
, but it simply never mentioned repealing the Act and introducing an entirely new legislative scheme. It never mentioned that “triggers” for federal review, in place since the 1980s Guidelines Order, such as the presence of federal funds in the proposed undertaking as a trigger for required review, would be removed. The Budget never mentioned wholesale re-definition of the substance of review, of those impacts that require study under the act. These changes are not relevant to the proposed rationalization for “streamlining.” These, and other changes, represent a retreat from federal responsibilities for which no foundation was laid in the budget.

Further, the
Fisheries Act
was not mentioned in the budget at all. Other than reductions in available funding for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (at p. 266, Budget 2012), enhanced funding for First Nations fisheries (p. 150, Budget 2012), and increased funding for fisheries science (at p. 120, Budget 2012), fisheries are not mentioned in the budget at all. Nowhere in the budget is it suggested, or required as a legislative change to implement other parts of the budget, that a major overhaul of the
Fisheries Act
is to be expected. The changes to the
Fisheries Act
concealed in C-38 are simply the most far-reaching, radical and fundamental changes to the
Fisheries Act
in Canada’s history. Nothing less would have provoked four former Ministers of Fisheries and Oceans (representing fisheries policy under three different Prime Ministers from 1985-2006) to speak with one voice in urging the act be withdrawn. And yet, the proposed amendments to the
Fisheries Act
were not mentioned at all in the Budget. They are not anchored to any promised change in the budget. Unmoored from the budget, the changes to the
Fisheries Act
lack all legitimacy.

Also unmentioned in the budget are changes to the functions of personnel within National Parks. The amendments to the
Parks Canada Agency Act
(found in Division 9, Part 4 of C-38 at p. 241) are perhaps sensible. They would allow Parks Canada Agency park wardens to enforce other acts for other agencies. Regardless of whether such changes are offensive or not (and without further study of the long-term implications for Parks Canada’s core mandate, I cannot say) is irrelevant to the main point – these changes have nothing whatsoever to do with Budget 2012. Parks Canada’s budget is reduced (p.264) and (at p, 185) a new National Park is announced (without funding) for the Rouge Valley, near Toronto. Neither of these budgetary mentions have any connection to the C-38 amendments of the
Parks Canada Agency Act
.

Amendments to the
Canada Oil and Gas Operations Act
(Part 3, Division 3) to give the National Energy Board authority over pipelines and power lines crossing navigable waters (removing the authority held under the
Navigable Waters Protection Act
) were also never mentioned in the budget.

There is similarly no mention in the budget of changes to the
Species at Risk Act
, the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act
or
the Navigable Waters Protection Act
. The only reference to the policy area of species at risk in the budget was to provide more funding (p. 183, Budget 2012). If the act governing species at risk required overhaul to deliver on this aspect of the budget, why was it never mentioned in the budget? There is no nexus between the one reference to species at risk in Budget 2012 and the subsequent legislative changes in C-38. There is no reference at all to policy or legislative changes in the budget related to the
Canadian Environmental Protection Act
or the
Navigable Waters Protection Act.

The repeal of the
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
could not be described as a surprise. The current executive branch has made it very clear that it wishes to repudiate Canada’s global treaty obligations. Nevertheless, I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to consider the rules and precedents of Parliament. A measure in an omnibus budget bill is only legitimate if it has some relation to a central organizing theme. The topic of climate change is never once mentioned in the Budget. The House cannot take the equivalent of “judicial notice” – that “everyone knows” the Prime Minister intends to kill the
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
. The Prime Minister, or more accurately, his Minister of Environment, has all the powers and authorities necessary to present legislation to this House to repeal the
Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act
. And the Conservatives have a majority of seats in both places, making it a foregone conclusion that properly tabled legislation will meet with Parliamentary approval. Should the Privy Council officers respond that the “jobs, growth and long-term prosperity” agenda is related to repealing this act, they must be called upon to make proof of that assertion. The KPIA provisions make its terms moot with the withdrawal of Canada from the Kyoto Protocol, through the action announced by the Minister of Environment in December 2011. The repeal of the act included in C-38 is further evidence that the act has no central theme or purpose or principle.

Moving on from the environmental aspects of C-38, there are other legislative changes for which no foundation has been laid in the budget.

One of the most serious changes in C-38 relate to a new supremacy of Privy Council to over-ride decisions of the National Energy Board (Division 2, Part 3, s. 54). This change to the
National Energy Board Act
was not mentioned at all in the budget document, nor was it shared in advance explanatory notes. It is not connected to any theme but is a significant change in the context of a quasi-judicial body with a long history of professionalism. There has been no explanation, so it is impossible to find in this change any link or theme to connect it to other aspects of C-38.

The elimination of the office of the Inspector General under the Canadian Security Intelligence Service has no connection whatsoever to the budget (Division 15, Part 4). Neither are the changes (found in the same section) to consolidate the responsibility for reviewing the activities of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, or CSIS, into the Security Intelligence Review Committee foreshadowed in the Budget2012. To attempt to find a theme that embraces repealing the KPIA, weakening of fisheries habitat protection and elimination of the Inspector General of CSIS within C-38 is an exercise to make your head hurt.

The new provisions for conditional release decisions within the
Corrections and Conditional Release Act
are also completely unhinged from anything in the budget. There is no logical (or even illogical) link between budgetary measures and the changes in Bill C-38 found at (Division 37, Part 4).

The repeal of the
Fair Wages and Hours of Labour Act
is not referenced in Budget 2012. The repeal of this Act could have widespread implications. It is not related to other aspects of C-38 and it further drives home the point that there is no “theme” to C-38. (Division 23, Part 4).

One of the most profound changes to Canada contained in C-38 relates to the surrendering of sovereignty in relation to law enforcement. While certain measures for improved movement of goods at the border are mentioned in the budget, the so-called “ship-rider” provisions are not mentioned (Division 12, Part 4). The decision to allow the law enforcement officials from another sovereign nation onto Canadian territory to enforce foreign laws is a dramatic and radical change. The Privy Council is (as noted above) entitled to table legislation to reduce the traditional understanding of Canadian sovereignty. Such a radical departure from the universally understood principles of sovereignty merit legitimate debate and review. Given the majority of seats held by the Conservative Party, so long as Members of Parliament are required by their whip to vote with their Cabinet colleagues, any such bill will pass. But, Mr. Speaker, this measure is not linked to the policy direction of the budget. It is not referenced. And as such, it is further evidence that C-38 is not a proper omnibus budget bill.

The complete list of measures that had no connection to the budget involves the elimination of numerous bodies and consequential repeal of numerous agencies, never mentioned in the budget. I know that the above list is not exhaustive, but covers many of the larger measures for which there is not link to Budget 2012.

Items that Privy Council Officers believe to be in C-38, that are not there

The third ground on which I make the case that C-38 violates Standing Order 68(3) is that it fails by omitting actions, regulatory and legislative changes described by representatives of the Privy Council as part of Bill C-38. The omission of items that the Ministers and honourable members speaking for Privy Council assert are in C-38 further confirms the bill is imperfect, unready and requiring a re-working.

I will cite numerous examples from the debate at Second Reading of C-38 in which Members of the Privy Council and Conservative Members of Parliament speak favourably to aspects of the legislation that are actually not in Bill C-38 at all. I anticipate that Conservative members may claim that people make mistakes in debate and that the claims that were made about C-38 are not substantive; that statements made in debate cannot add to the evidence that C-38 is imperfect.

In other Parliaments that may have been true. The occasional enthusiastic slip of the tongue does not undermine a governing party’s description of its legislation.

However, Mr. Speaker, these are not occasional slips. The claims of provisions in Bill C-38 that simply are not there were made by the Minister of Natural Resources and by the Minister of Environment. The claims were made, not in extemporaneous fashion – as if such exists in the ranks of the governing party of the day. The claims were made in prepared speaking notes. The same words and virtually verbatim text were submitted by a number of back-benchers as well.

In relation to claims of greater tanker and pipeline safety, I submit the following statements in debate at Second Reading of Bill C-38:

“Mr. Speaker, the bill will do a great deal to protect the environment… As I mentioned in my remarks, tankers will have to be double-hulled, there will be mandatory pilotage, there will be enhanced navigation, there will be aerial surveillance and additional measures will be taken in particular cases when necessary.” Minister for Natural Resources, May 2, 2012 (at 1610)

“The legislation before us…. (It) would provide new funding in support of pipeline and marine safety…..It would provide $35.7 million over two years to further strengthen Canada’s tanker safety regime, including ensuring appropriate legislative and regulatory frameworks related to oil spills and emergency preparedness and response.” Minister of the Environment, May 3, 2012, (at 1125.)

“We would enhance pipeline and marine safety through initiatives such as a strengthened tanker safety regime and a substantial increase in the number of inspections for oil and gas pipelines.” Hon. Member from Prince George, May 4,2012, (at 1255)

“I would like to speak directly to the budget bill…. We will strengthen pipeline safety. Every Canadian would support strengthening pipeline safety. … The reality is that pipeline inspections will increase from 100 to 150 inspections. I am sure that is something that everyone in this House would support.” Hon. Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of International Trade, May 7, 2012, (at 1240.)

“There is an additional $35.7 million proposed over the next two years to further improve the safety regimen for oil tankers and pipelines, to support ongoing environmental studies and better prepare for emergencies… The act also proposes an additional $13.5 million over two years to support the work of the National Energy Board that we may further reduce any risk, with more oil and gas pipeline inspections, moving from 100 to 150 per year, and double the number of annual audits designed to discover and resolve potential issues before they become a concern for Canadians…These unparalleled safety precautions for oil tankers were recently the subject of an excellent series in North Shore Outlook, a community newspaper serving the a region in the riding I represent.” Hon. Member for West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast- Sea to Sky Country, May 8, 2012

(just before 1055 and on.)

“…the safe navigation of oil tankers is very important to our government. Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s west coast since the 1930s. For example 82 oil tankers arrived at Port Metro Vancouver in 2011. Nearly 200 tankers visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat over the past five years, They all did this safely….Canada’s regulatory system had a lot to do with that. Oil tankers in Canada must comply with the safety and environmental protection requirements of international conventions, and, while in Canadian waters, with Canada’s marine safety regulatory regime….These requirements include double-hulling of ships, mandatory pilotage, regular inspections and aerial surveillance. In fact, in 2011, almost 1,100 inspections were carried out across Canada, 147 of them on oil tankers.

“We have a strong system, but any responsible government must continually work to make it stronger. That is why economic action plan 2012 includes further measures to support responsible energy development, including: new regulations which will enhance existing tanker inspection regime by strengthening vessel inspection requirements, a review of handling requirements for oil products by an independent international panel of tanker experts, improved navigational products, such as updated charts for shipping routes, research to improve our scientific knowledge and understanding of risks and to manage the impacts on marine resources habitat and users in the event of a marine pollution incident, and much more.” Hon. Member for North Vancouver, May 10, 2012, (at 1115.)

“I have heard much about the concern of tanker traffic specific to our west coast. Oil tankers have been moving safely and regularly along Canada’s west coast since the 1930s. For example 82 oil tankers arrived at Port Metro Vancouver last year, and over the past five years nearly 200 oil and chemical tankers visited the ports of Prince Rupert and Kitimat. They all did so safely.

“We propose to invest $13.5 million over two years to strengthen pipeline safety. We will do this by increasing the number of inspections, moving from 100 to 150, and we will double the number of annual comprehensive audits from three to six, to identify issues before incidents happen. Why? Because we value the importance of economic stewardship.” Honourable Member for Kootenay-Columbia, May 10, 2012, at 1200

Mr, Speaker, there is absolutely nothing in Bill C-38 that advances tanker safety or pipeline safety. The budget document itself mentions that such changes are planned, but C-38 omits any reference to them. Ironically, after the litany of measures never mentioned in Budget 2012 that are included in C-38, in this case, the budget promises these changes, but C-38 has not a word about pilotage or double-hulled tankers or increasing pipeline inspections.

We have a choice here: either to conclude that ministers and other honourable members were deliberately misleading the House, or, and I submit this is the only sensible conclusion, that there are errors in C-38 that have omitted important sections.

In the matter of environmental assessment, ministers and other honourable members also asserted specific language to the new provisions to allow the complete substitution of federal environmental review with a provincial one. The specificity of language and its repetition suggest they honestly believe the legislation is drafted in a way that it is not.

“It would allow provincial environmental assessments that meet the substantive requirements of the
Canadian Environmental Assessment Act
to be substituted for the federal environmental assessment. In some cases, the provincial process may be deemed equivalent to the federal process. However, these provisions will only be put into effect if the province can demonstrate it can meet federal requirements.” Minister for Natural Resources, May 2, 2012 at (1610)

“Mr. Speaker, the whole point of the exercise is to ensure that we have a robust environmental review of major projects….There will be an opportunity for substitution by the province but only if the particular province in question has the capacity and the willingness to conduct an identical level review.” Minister for Natural Resources, May 2, 2012 at (1615)

“I want people to read the legislation. It talks about substitution. It does not talk about elimination. If there is an environmental assessment at the federal level and another at the provincial level, we can substitute one for the other, but they have to be at least equal. “Honourable Member for Burlington, May 3, 2012, at 1635

Mr. Speaker, while substitution of reviews is contemplated in Bill C-38, there is not a requirement for “an identical level of review,” for it “to be at least equal,” nor “for meeting federal requirements.” The summary pages describing the legislation call the substitution “equivalent,” but that word appears nowhere in the operative sections of C-38. In fact, the relevant section of the new CEAA offers no criteria at all for a discretionary decision by the Minister that the substitution would be “appropriate:”

“If the Minister is of the opinion that a process for assessing the environmental effects of designated projects that is followed by the government of a province …that has the powers, duties or functions in relation to an assessment of the environmental effects of a designated process would be an appropriate substitute, the Minister must, on request of the province approve the substitution.” (s 32)

These examples of claims for subject matter not covered at all in C-38 (pipeline and tanker safety), as well as for subject areas included, but without the strength of criteria repeatedly referenced in debate, are further evidence that the legislation is imperfect. I will not accept that so many honourable members spoke in an effort to mislead the House. The members clearly believe that C-38 meets the description they have given the House. Furthermore, as all speeches delivered by Conservative Party Members of Parliament are reviewed in advance by the Prime Minister’s Office (and given similarity of wording, were likely written by the same person on PMO staff), the Prime Minister cannot but agree that the legislation falls short of his own stated goals.

Whether through hasty drafting or other error, the legislation does not meet the description offered by three Members of Privy Council as well as several Honourable Members. It is imperfect and unready and should be withdrawn.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I wish to put forward a further compelling reason with which I beg that you reject C-38 as violating the Standing Orders of this place. And that is this: the respect of the body politic for this institution is at stake.

I recall the words of the late journalist, a great Canadian, James Travers. We were both on CBC Sunday Edition in the spring of 2009, discussing the threats to our institutions. He commented that we really no longer have democracy in Canada. He said (and I am paraphrasing) “you can visit Ottawa and what you’ll see is a democracy theme park. The buildings are still there. You can tour Parliament, but you will no longer see democracy.”

I refuse to accept that such is the case. I acknowledge that democracy is not a permanent state of existence. It can be won, as in Arab Spring. And it can be lost. It can be lost through violence; it can be lost through neglect.

It does not survive without the constant application of checks on abuse of power. It needs openness. Those things done by stealth invariably breed an unhealthy loss of respect in our democratic institutions. Sunlight is a great antiseptic. The myriad, unrelated pieces of legislation under cover of C-38, should, to respect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, be brought out of the shadows, and be tabled separately, and studied on their own merit.

To allow C-38 to masquerade as a legitimate omnibus bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute. C-38 is widely understood in the popular media as a fraud.

Andrew Coyne wrote in the National Post that C-38 “is not remotely a budget bill, despite its name…,” further noting that while throwing non-budgetary matters into a budget bill is not unknown, in C-38 “the scale and scope are on a level not previously seen, or tolerated….. There is no common thread that runs between them, no overarching principle; they represent not a single act of policy; but a sort of compulsory buffet.” (“Bill C-38 shows us how far Parliament has fallen,” National Post, April 30, 2012)

John Ivison in the National Post, noting that the excuse for the omnibus approach is the “urgency” to move projects to approval, maintained “But it is not so ‘urgent’ that it justifies an end-run around 145 years of Parliamentary tradition…Someone, somewhere deep within the Prime Minister’s Office took the decision to try to cram as much contentious legislation in one mega-bill in order to minimize the political fall-out. It was a dumb move and it has blown up in their faces… condemned by all but the most blinkered of partisans.” (“Liberty lost in stampede to pass Tories’ omnibus budget bill,” National Post, May 7, 2012).

Terry Glavin wrote, “Bill C-38 is a heck of a thing. It’s an omnibus bill that purports to be a budget bill but isn’t. It’s a statutory juggernaut that introduces, amends or repeals nearly 70 federal laws. It’s been presented to the House of Commons in a manner that may be without close precedent in Canadian Parliamentary history,” (“Something’s fishy with Bill C-38,” Ottawa Citizen, May 7, 2012).

Dan Gardner wrote: “…the government’s mammoth Bill C-38, which is theoretically the budget implementation bill…is in reality a vast number of pieces of legislation that have nothing to do with each other, or the budget. Piling most of the government’s legislative agenda in one bill ensures scrutiny will be kept to a minimum, which is in keeping with the government’s unprecedented use of time allocation and closure to shut down parliamentary debate.” (“Tories governing from the extreme centre,” Ottawa Citizen, June 1, 2012.)

We, as Parliamentarians, must be the bulwark against abuse of power, even in a majority government. Our only shield is our traditions, the Standing Rules, precedent and respect for the same. Our only hope is in a fair judge. I turn to you, Mr. Speaker, without fear or favour, sine timore aut favore, to rule fairly and protect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, to restore public faith in our institutions, and to order Bill C-38, a bill imperfect in form and shape, to be withdrawn pursuant to our Standing Rules.
http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/06/04/point-of-order-2/

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NDP threaten 30 hours of votes on budget bill

Budget implementation bill so big it could take hours to get through proposed changes

By Laura Payton, CBC News

Posted: Jun 5, 2012 11:53 AM ET

Last Updated: Jun 5, 2012 2:21 PM ET

Read 243comments243

li-nathan-cullen-620-025751.jpgThe federal budget bill could face hours of continuous votes in the House of Commons, NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen said Tuesday, because the NDP and other opposition parties will move hundreds of changes to it. (Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press)

The NDP say they will move to delete 200 provisions in the bill to implement the budget, forcing hours of votes in the House of Commons, in an attempt to force the government to break up the massive bill into smaller pieces.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen says the party can move to amend the bill when it returns to the House from the finance committee. He says Green Party Leader Elizabeth May could have up to 200 changes to propose. May is working with the Liberals on the parliamentary tactic that threatens to tie up proceedings with more than 50 hours of consecutive votes. Cullen estimated the process could take more than 30 hours of voting.

Cullen says the Conservatives have to be careful because they don't have many more MPs than the opposition parties combined.

"We believe these measures to be confidence. If the votes go on for hours and hours, perhaps days, the government has to get every single vote right. They can't screw one up. They can't have members falling asleep, going home and not coming back for votes, missing votes," he said.

"This is why this whole process is wrong. This is why these bills should have been standalone items. Because if a change to the Employment Insurance Act failed, the government obviously doesn't fail. If a Fisheries Act change fails, the government doesn't fail. But making it all into a budget implementation act, the government's put themselves at risk and painted themselves into a corner."

Votes on budget issues are considered confidence matters, which could bring down the government and force an election.

Bill C-38 is being studied by the House finance committee in sometimes twice-daily meetings for several hours at a time. It's expected to get the committee's approval Tuesday night and return to the floor of the House next Monday or Tuesday. May can put forward her amendments then.

The budget implementation bill is more than 400 pages and it seeks to repeal several laws, amend dozens of them and implement a new environmental assessment regime.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/06/05/pol-ndp-votes-budget-bill.html

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Harper’s new enemy: conservatives

By Susan Riley, The Ottawa Citizen June 7, 2012

There is a new front opening, as opposition to Stephen Harper’s budget — and his broader agenda — gathers strength. Increasingly, criticism is coming from dismayed conservatives offended by Harper’s hostility, or indifference, to the environment. And to democratic tradition.

The dissidents are mostly Progressive Conservatives, but not exclusively. This week, for instance, former Alberta Reform MP Bob Mills joined Green Party Leader Elizabeth May in decrying the elimination of the National Roundtable on the Environment and the Economy (a Mulroney-era initiative.)

Mills, a one-time biology teacher, served as environment critic in Harper’s Opposition shadow cabinet. While he stoutly defended market-friendly prescriptions, Mills won friends across party lines. But Mills proved too green for the PMO and was never appointed environment minister — although he was a member of the now-doomed NREE, after he left politics in 2008.

Perhaps Mills can be dismissed as a secondary figure, but Alberta Premier Alison Redford is anything but. She has been correct in her dealings with Harper, but the two leaders, both nominally conservative, clearly differ on the environment and the conduct of politics.

In an insightful analysis of the relationship, Don Lenihan of Public Policy Forum argues that Redford “is showing an impressive ability to speak to where the public is going to be, rather than where it was.”

Harper, busy defending the dinosaurs, risks being eclipsed by newly-visible conservative moderates like Redford. While the prime minister remains determined to remove any obstacle to rapid development of Canada’s resources, environment be damned, Redford insists on sustainability. While Harper is quick to exploit divisions — portraying Alberta as a potential victim of mythic eastern bastards — Redford is promoting a pan-Canadian energy strategy, led by Alberta. In tone, Harper is tough, impatient and secretive — note the many surprises buried in his omnibus budget bill — while Redford preaches inclusiveness and transparency. She will be the first Alberta premier ever to launch Edmonton’s pride festivities.

Another prominent defender of progressive conservative values leads another party: Elizabeth May. Decades ago, as a young lawyer, she worked for the Mulroney government and retains deep admiration for the former prime minister’s green record. Today, she is eviscerating Harper’s omnibus budget bill in the Commons with her usual tenacity and eloquence.

In her view, the problem isn’t conservatives, per se — she says a majority of Harper’s caucus understands and supports climate science. But Harper doesn’t and only a brave few MPs dare disagree.

One is Michael Chong, consigned to the backbenches after a disagreement with Harper over recognizing the Québécois as a people. He now belongs to a non-partisan committee established by Liberal Kirsty Duncan to hear expert opinion on climate science. Chong, 41, speaks for many younger conservatives when he says: “I think the environment is one of the greatest challenges of my generation.”

There have even been rumblings in the mostly docile, Conservative-controlled Senate. Senators Nancy Ruth and Hugh Segal, a Red Tory stalwart, have both strongly objected to the government’s crackdown on environmental charities.

Credible criticism of other aspects of the omnibus bill — notably the weakening of the fisheries act — has come from Tom Siddon and John Fraser, Mulroney-era cabinet ministers. Siddon, now 70, lambasted the government for undoing decades of environmental progress, returning Canada to the status of “hewers of wood,” and for ramming changes through Parliament. “This is unbecoming of the Conservative party I belonged to,” he said.

To some, this will sound like the grumbling of old warhorses, but, elsewhere, Progressive Conservatives are enjoying a moment. Former Alberta premier Peter Lougheed, now 83, was feted in Calgary this week. Lougheed — who serves as a role model, and influential cheerleader, for Redford — reminded his audience, pointedly, that he always put Canada first.

Harper wasn’t feeling much love from Atlantic Canadian conservatives this week, either. New Brunswick’s David Alward and Kathy Dunderdale, of Newfoundland and Labrador, questioned federal EI reforms that, they argue, fundamentally misunderstand and devalue the Atlantic Canadian economy.

Premiers will always put regional loyalties before party, but there is little evidence of kinship between Harper and Atlantic conservatives. They don’t even seem to belong to the same party.

If progressive conservatism has a current hero, it could be former federal environment minister Jim Prentice, a Calgarian now working in Toronto for the CIBC. (He has even been praised by noted B.C. environmentalist Andrew Weaver.)

Interestingly, Alberta consultant Susan Elliott, who managed Prentice’s 2003 leadership campaign for the federal PC party, also ran Redford’s recent campaign. And another Mulroney-era veteran, Calgary MP Lee Richardson, is leaving Ottawa, to all-party applause, to work in Redford’s office. He cautioned his many friends to “leave the partisan furies at the water’s edge.” Advice the prime minister might want to heed, as he becomes increasingly isolated.

Read more: http://www.ottawacit...l#ixzz1xGUb47WX

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Again restricting debate, Tories set stage for final budget votes

GLORIA GALLOWAY

OTTAWA — The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012, 11:46 AM EDT

Last updated Tuesday, Jun. 12 2012, 2:52 PM EDT

Now that it has reached its final stages of the House of Commons, the Conservatives have moved to shut down debate on their omnibus budget bill – legislation the opposition says has received too little scrutiny given its massive size and scope.

The motion of time allocation would allow a total of 18 more hours of discussion in the House. That means round-the-clock voting on hundreds of proposed opposition amendments would begin late Wednesday afternoon and the final vote on the bill would likely take place next Monday.

NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen told the Commons this is the 26th time the government has invoked time allocation and closure on bills since the Conservatives won a majority a year ago. That breaks the record for all previous government, he added.

On Bill C-38, the government will claim there’s been lots of debate, Mr. Cullen said. But it has not been adequate, he argued, for legislation that includes 753 clauses, has more than 400 pages, and will change more that 70 acts of Parliament.

Mr. Cullen pointed out that, when he was opposition leader, Prime Minister Stephen Harper railed against the Liberal government for invoking time allocation. “Where have those principles all gone, for the need to have democratic debate in this House?”

Ted Menzies, the Minister of State for Finance, replied that there has been plenty of democratic debate. And he pointed out that, when the NDP was permitted to respond to the budget, they sent British Columbia MP Peter Julian into the House to filibuster for 13 hours – a move that prevented the Conservatives from promoting their economic plan but also limited time for the Liberals, the Bloc and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.

Ms. May stood to say she was no fan of that particular NDP tactic. But the argument is irrelevant to Bill C-38, she said, because it had not been tabled at that time.

“And I dispute the sort of nonsense that we have heard from the Government House Leader that there’s been abundant debate,” Ms. May added. “Budget bills between 1995 and 2000 averaged 12 pages long. It’s been only this Conservative brand under the current Prime Minister who has taken budget bills and made them Trojan horses.”

Opposition leaders of all stripes have pleaded with the government to slice Bill C-38 into several more manageable bits. They have tried to create a logjam in the Commons with their proposed amendments to focus the attention of Canadians on a bill they say subverts democracy by including provisions that have no place in budget legislation.

Those measures include, among other things, changes to the way fish habitats are protected, changes to Employment Insurance eligibility, and an increase in the age at which Canadians can collect Old Age Security.

It also would severely restrict the number of federal environmental assessments. They would become the jurisdiction of the provinces except in cases where development could affect migratory birds, fish and other aquatic species.

Conservative MPs David Tilson and Michael Chong, meanwhile, have been calling for a federal environmental assessment into a mega-quarry in Dufferin County in central Ontario.

Mr. Tilson reiterated the plea on Tuesday, just before the government asked for the time allocation. He submitted a petition arguing there are issues related to the use of water operations at the quarry that could have negative financial implications federally and provincially.

“These petitioners are asking that the government of Canada conduct and environmental assessment under the authority of the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act,” Mr. Tilson said.

But that law would be repealed by the budget bill and replaced with legislation that would cut the thousands of federal assessments conducted every year down to about 20.

Separately, l24 lawyers and law professors from across Canada have written to Mr. Harper and other MPs asking that the environmental sections be extracted from the omnibus budget bill and debated separately.

“The bill is bad, the process is bad,” Stephen Hazell, an environmental law professor at the University of Ottawa, told reporters on Tuesday.

“What this legislation is about is basically eliminating legally required environmental assessments. And what you are replacing it with is a framework for the exercise of political discretion by the prime minister and the minister of the environment at whatever point they choose in the process.”

http://www.theglobea...article4251031/

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?

We can agree with some of the measures but oppose others. How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill.

-Stephen Harper :sadno:

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Budget bill should be called the Lobbyists’ Bill, it’s a gift for oil and gas lobbyists

Drafted in secret, frog-marched on closure, its provisions hidden from voters in the last campaign, the bill reads like it was ghostwritten at the Calgary Petroleum Club. It puts Canada dead last among G8 countries in environmental protection.

00_4Korski24hrs-of-votes-June-13-14-2012-6769256.jpg

By TOM KORSKI |

Published: Monday, 06/18/2012 12:00 am EDT

Last Updated: Monday, 06/18/2012 9:21 am EDT

PARLIAMENT HILL—“Canada’s golden age,” one MP called it.

The House was in session, after dark, grinding through C-38, the Lobbyists’ Bill. Drafted in secret, frog-marched on closure, its provisions hidden from voters in the last campaign, the bill reads like it was ghostwritten at the Calgary Petroleum Club. It puts Canada dead last among G8 countries in environmental protection. C-38 is so outrageous Conservative MPs were not permitted to read it beforehand in caucus.

Galleries sat empty. Collars wilted in the humidity. The speaker was Michelle Rempel, first-term Conservative MP from Calgary. It was a hot, miserable night, but Rempel found the energy to mix her metaphors. “We now have the opportunity,” she enthused, “to set the ball in motion to cement Canada’s golden age on the world stage for years to come.”

This is no cement ball; not a golden age. This is The Gilded Age, Mark Twain’s testament to the venality of lobbying. He wrote his fictional account of a sleazy Washington land deal in 1873 but the dateline could read Ottawa, 2012: “Sunset came, and still the fight went on; the gas was lit, the crowd in the galleries began to thin, but the contest continued; the crowd returned, by-and-by, with hunger and thirst appeased, and aggravated the hungry and thirsty House by looking contented and comfortable; but still the wrangle lost nothing of its bitterness. Recesses were moved plaintively by the opposition, and invariably voted down by the governing army…debate had dwindled to a mere vapouring of dull speakers, and now and then a brief quarrel over a point of order….”

This day the dullness of speakers was at least comic. One MP paraphrased Churchill, badly. “This is democracy in its finest hour,” said Winnipeg Conservative Shelly Glover, “because the government is defending democracy.”

There was dullness in the press, too.

One Postmedia account dismissed oppositionprotests as “a Parliamentary pajama party”; The Canadian Press attempted an examination of how filibustering MPs would make it to the bathroom; a Toronto Sun columnist explained debate had to be forced short because “the Greek elections are in a week”; the Saint John Telegraph-Journal sighed, “That wasn’t so bad, was it?”

C-38 is a gift for oil and gas lobbyists.

It repeals 20 years of environmental case law; it eliminates some 90 per cent of all federal environmental assessments, by one estimate; it tilts the rules for industry where studies are unavoidable; it deliberately fails to define “significant effect” of industrial projects. Might that be, say, a tailings pond in a lake? An open pit mine on a trout stream? “That omission is deliberate,” one lawyer told me. “Once you define ‘significant effect,’ you have to start saying ‘no.’ ”

The Lobbyists’ Bill decrees eco-studies on mega-projects must end in two years. Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver complains of the time it takes to license proposals, like the six years spent to approve Alberta’s Joslyn North oilsands mine—a project so massive it straddles two townships. “Egregious,” Oliver called it. Yet records show actual public hearings on Joslyn North lasted only three weeks; it took Oliver’s own government two years just to appoint a joint review panel, and the developer another 18 months to write its environmental assessment.

No one can explain what vexing environmental problem C-38 aims to solve. One federal study rated Canada as second only to Chile with the fewest environmental barriers to investment—and that was before C-38 (see Comparative Analysis of Impacts on Competitiveness of Environmental Assessment Requirements, Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, September 2000).

Nor do oil and gas companies suffer barriers to profit. They pay less tax in Canada than they do in the U.S., Germany or France—and lower rates here than they have since WWII. Imperial Oil today pays proportionately less tax than it did in 1950, though profits rose 53 per cent last year—$3.37-billion. Imperial’s corporate budget now exceeds the national accounts of 84 countries in the United Nations.

Who wrote C-38?

The authorship is anonymous, though it is worth noting Lobbyist Registry records show Cabinet members had 81 meetings with oil and gas lobbyists before the bill was introduced. The meetings were private. Joe Oliver hosted lobbyists 44 times. Asked once who complained about environmental assessments, Oliver told a reporter: “When I was in China – and I’ve been there a couple of times, once with the prime minister, we heard that there was a tremendous interest on the part of Chinese investors in Canadian projects.…However, they were concerned about the delays they have seen.”

So, Parliament repealed its own environmental practices to please Sinopec directors in Beijing.

And they did it after dark, under threat of closure, grasping for appropriate metaphors.

It’s no golden age for Canada, and perhaps not even a gilded one. It is like a cement ball—let’s go with that one.

The Hill Times

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And at the end of the day, all of it passes, just like it would had they introduced it as a whole bunch of separate bills.

Only thing worse than not debating the issues is instead debating on procedure. The opposition still has every opportunity to blast the government on every piece of legislation they disagree with.

The only message given is that the cons will pass anything they feel like passing - regardless of how much the opposition protests. Exactly like every other majority government.

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And at the end of the day, all of it passes, just like it would had they introduced it as a whole bunch of separate bills.

Only thing worse than not debating the issues is instead debating on procedure. The opposition still has every opportunity to blast the government on every piece of legislation they disagree with.

The only message given is that the cons will pass anything they feel like passing - regardless of how much the opposition protests. Exactly like every other majority government.

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I disagree - debating on procedure draws attention to the issue, and just how out of the ordinary it is. The fact that this is the fourth largest bill in Canadian history, and only after other CPC bills under Harper, should have some kind of effect on people's opinion, no?
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