Tuesday, May 08, 2012

The Mother of all Omnibus Bills!

Good Day Readers:

Given the Conservatives blatant disregard for parliamentary tradition and democratic principles upon reading the following article the thought occurred, why not introduce the Mother of all Omnibus Bills. Here's how it would work.

Every piece of legislation the Tories would like to pass before they must call another election would be jammed into one Bill. At the earliest possible date they could invoke closure on its debate then send it to Sleepy Hollows (The Senate) for passage and Royal Assent. Voila!

Advantages

At a time when the government is trying to balance the budget the savings would be enormous:

  • House of Commons and Senate could be shuttered until the next election
  • MPs and Senators wouldn't have to crisscross the country on their Air Canada cards that won't quit
  • No need for Bev Oda to order $16 a glass orange juice
  • Fleet of challenger jets could be grounded
  • Peter McKay wouldn't need helicopters
  • Lazy MP wouldn't require chauffeured limosines to travel 2-3 blocks
  • Savings could be used to reduce taxes
  • Etc., etc., etc
Disadvantages

None

Under this arrangement voters would simply have to wait until the government is compelled by law to call the next general election at which time we would throw the bums out on their collective fat arses. Sound like a plan?

Sincerely,
Clare L. Pieuk

John Ivison: Liberty lost in stampede to pass Tories' omnibus budget bill

By John Ivison
Monday, May 8, 2012
Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver (Mack Binch/Reuters files)

Joe Oliver has been watching too much Glengarry Glen Ross, the award-winning American film about four real estate salesmen who are taught ABC — always be closing.

The Conservative omnibus budget implementation bill is “urgent,” the Natural Resources Minister said Monday. There are great opportunities to export Canadian resources, “but the world will not stand by and wait while Canada endlessly debates its resource potential and squanders its legacy,” he said.


The government claims it has stuffed non-budgetary items ranging from environmental regulations to EI reforms into its budget bill in order to speed the legislation through parliament and get Canadian resources to market.
There is a need to streamline the regulatory process for big infrastructure projects, as Simon Henry, the chief financial officer of Royal Dutch Shell, told the Financial Post in March. “The regulatory framework [in Canada] is fractured and tends to make some projects, particularly pipelines, take longer than one might hope,” he said. But it’s not so “urgent” that it justifies an end-run around 145 years of parliamentary tradition.

In any case, the Conservative action premises a gridlock in the Parliament that does not, in reality, exist.
‘But it’s not so “urgent” that it justifies an end-run around 145 years of parliamentary tradition’
The Tories have introduced 38 bills since being returned with a majority. Fifteen of them have passed into law already and only three have been hanging around since last summer.

Moreover, the government is getting even its most controversial reforms passed (albeit with liberal use of time allocation to limit debate). The scrapping of the Canadian Wheat Board took just 37 sitting days from its introduction to royal assent; deep-sixing the long-gun registry took 70 sitting days; the addition of new seats to the House of Commons took 31 sitting days.

Someone, somewhere deep within the Prime Minister’s Office took the decision to try to cram as much contentious legislation in one mega-bill to minimize the political fallout. It was a dumb move and it has blown up in their faces.

The attempt to bury potentially factious news has been condemned by all but the most blinkered of partisans.
The NDP has relished another government misstep by condemning the “Trojan Horse” bill. “Parliament is just an obstacle you need to get around,” said Guy Caron, the NDP MP.

The Opposition has presented itself as the trusty defender of democracy, despite introducing a motion that called on Parliament to refuse to give the budget bill a second reading because it weakens confidence in the work of Parliament.

The NDP has also called for MPs to vote to split the budget bill into five sections, in order to deal with environmental regulations, immigration reforms and so on in separate legislation.

The government House Leader Peter Van Loan dismissed the NDP suggestion as an “ideological response” and told his opposite number Nathan Cullen to go live in Cuba if he liked communism so much. He didn’t really. But he wanted to.

Maybe if he had, it might have garnered some attention outside Ottawa’s parliamentary wonderland. The issue is arcane but fundamental to our system of governance.

Governments have the right to pass their legislation in timely fashion. Parliament has the right to examine bills. When that balance gets out of kilter, Canadians should be concerned.

No doubt things could move more quickly were the government simply to make a habit of ramming its latest policy pre-occupation through Parliament.

But, in this regard at least, our system is not that different from the United States, whose constitutional founders believed liberty could only be preserved when government moved slowly and power was divided.

In the words of John F. Kennedy: “The delegates believed that they were sacrificing efficiency for liberty.”

In Canada, too, government may be the only area of human activity where you can have too much efficiency. It’s not just about closing the latest deal.

Email: jivison@nationalpost.com | Twitter:


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