Marathon budget bill vote worth the effort, May says
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May leaves a press conference in Ottawa on Dec. 1, 2011
Published Friday, June 15, 2012 9:03AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, June 15, 2012 3:11PM EDT
The 22-hour voting marathon in Parliament wasn't a stunt or a delay tactic, but rather a legitimate way to reason with the Harper government to change its omnibus budget bill, the Green party leader says.
"In that sense it was a failure," an exhausted Elizabeth May told CTV's Canada AM Friday.
But victories can be found in other places, she said.
More Canadians are now aware of the wide-ranging legislation that literally changes dozens of laws, including environmental protection, old age security, employment insurance and government contracts, May said.
"The numbers of people who even knew about it grew exponentially as we went into the struggle to try and improve the bill," she said.
The Conservative majority easily defeated the hundreds of amendments to Bill C-38 that will now move forward to a third and final reading Monday.
MPs stood in the House of Commons for 159 votes on the bill that began around 1 a.m. Thursday and ended just before midnight.
The Senate could pass the legislation by the end of next week.
May said she had a lot at stake in the votes after personally bringing forward hundreds of amendments to the budget implementation bill.
"There were a couple of us who didn't take naps . . . who were in our seats for the entire time and voted on every vote," May said about the around-the-clock session.
"It was a very, very long couple of days."
May said the bill takes a sledgehammer to long-standing environmental laws, so she felt obligated to fight it.
"When you see something being proposed in Parliament . . . you see something that's (causing) a significant level of damage to natural systems," you have to do something, May said.
She said Bill C-38 was an "illegitimate attempt to change" 70 laws that worked, while holding out hope the Conservative-dominated Senate would claw back some of the legislation.
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said what's happened over the last couple of days has been a battle between two different visions of the country.
NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said the vote will prove to be a watershed moment for the Conservatives after the procedural battle concluded.
Liberal interim Leader Bob Rae said the legislation that "had everything in it but the kitchen sink," will be long remembered by the public as each change is felt.
In a statement released Friday, the Liberals said the government "steamrolled our democracy" with the bill's passage.
"While this government's quashing of dissent and silencing of critics is nothing new, their insistence on ramming through legislation that has such wide-ranging ramifications without the necessary scrutiny and without any compromise is a new low," Liberal House leader Marc Garneau said in the statement.
Garneau also said his party was able to shed light on the omnibus budget bill and the government's "abuse of power."