Critics view Tory omnibus bill as abusive, unethical
OTTAWA — The Conservative government’s move to limit debate on a sweeping budget bill stuffed with major policy changes is undemocratic and unethical, charge opposition parties.
The Tories maintain that they’re simply trying to enact important economic measures in a timely fashion.
A government motion was adopted Thursday in the Commons to limit second reading debate on budget Bill C-38 to seven days before it’s voted on.
The bill includes sweeping changes to environmental protection, oldage security, employment insurance, national parks and approvals for natural-resource projects. It amends or eliminate dozens of different laws.
“While this may be legal, it’s certainly unethical and it’s certainly undemocratic,” said NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen, calling the Tory tactics an unprecedented “abuse of power.”
“This prime minister . . . . used to rail against this exact tactic,” he added.
Opposition parties are demanding the government split up the budget bill into separate pieces of legislation so the myriad changes can be properly debated.
Liberal deputy House leader Kevin Lamoureux said it’s “a cowardly act” to include several policy overhauls in one bill and limit debate on it.
The bill would allow set time limits on environmental reviews, regardless of whether they are complete, and allow cabinet ministers to make decisions on certificates for major pipelines.
The Fisheries Act would be stripped of requirements to protect fish habitat. Also scrapped would be the Kyoto Protocol Implementation Act, which called for annual reports on the effectiveness of federal climate change policies and an independent review of results.
“This has more acts than ever and more of these acts have nothing to do with the budget,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May.