Flaherty tells opposition to move 'expeditiously' on budget bill
Andrea Janus, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, December 3, 2012 12:15PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 3, 2012 2:41PM EST
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty urged opposition parties to help pass the government’s omnibus budget implementation bill quickly so the Canadian economy can continue to grow, “albeit modestly.”
Flaherty addressed reporters outside the Houseof Commons Monday, just hours after the NDP held a news conference to say committees had not had enough time to study Bill C-45, which MPs could begin voting on as early as Tuesday.
“The initiatives that are in the budget are vital to keeping Canada’s economy growing, albeit modestly, but growing and creating jobs,” Flaherty said. “So my encouragement is to my colleagues in the House of Commons, having dealt with this at great length at committee, to move forward expeditiously so that the bill can become law by the end of the year.”
On Monday morning, NDP MPs Peggy Nash, Nycole Turmel and Nathan Cullen made the opposite claim to Flaherty, telling reporters that the bill spent too little time before various committees.
In late October, the federal government agreed to a Liberal proposal to allow nine separate committees to examine the bill, which clocks in at more than 400 pages.
However, Nash said some committees were only able to meet for one day, with little time to call witnesses.
“I just want to stress that neither the finance committee nor any of the other committees that had the chance to examine this bill had enough time to do that,” Nash said. “This is not the kind of oversight that Canadians have the right to expect.”
Nash pointed out that “every single amendment” proposed at the finance committee was rejected and the bill went back to the House unchanged.
The NDP MPs also decried changes the bill will make to some 60 pieces of existing legislation.
In particular, changes to the Navigable Waters Protection Act that “will have serious consequences for Canadians and our waterways across Canada,” Nash said.
The number of lakes that will fall under the act will decrease from 40,000 to 97, and the number of rivers will drop from 2.5 million to 62.
“These are major changes,” Nash said.
Bill C-45 is the government’s second omnibus bill put forward to implement last spring’s budget. The first bill led to an opposition filibuster, which had MPs in the House for a round-the-clock voting session, though the bill was guaranteed to pass due to the Conservative majority.
The opposition parties have again proposed a number of amendments, and last week, Speaker Andrew Scheer ruled on which amendments MPs may consider during this week’s vote, and bundled the amendments into groups of votes.
Voting on C-45 is expected to take between eight and 10 hours.
With files from The Canadian Press