Morneau's office doesn't consider 556-page budget bill omnibus
OTTAWA – The federal government's tabling of its biggest-yet budget implementation bill, spanning 556 pages, is being criticized by the opposition as "another broken promise."
The legislation-- Bill C-74, the Budget Implementation Act, 2018, No. 1-- implements what was announced in the 2018 federal budget tabled Feb. 27. This includes small business tax changes, amendments to tobacco and marijuana taxation, and implements new veterans and environmental policy, among other things.
Asked whether the government intends on splitting up the bill for study-- a new provision put in place by the Liberals to deal with omnibus legislation-- the minister’s office said no.
An omnibus bill is a bill that covers a number of unrelated topics.
"Our bills are big because they are getting a lot done for middle-class Canadians. Everything in this bill reflects measures in Budget 2018," said Chloé Luciani-Girouard, a spokesperson for Finance Minister Bill Morneau, in an email to CTV News.ca.
"Because every line refers to a budget measure, we see our plan as a whole, and intend for it to remain as such," Luciani-Girouard said.
However, in an email to CTV News.ca, NDP House Leader Ruth Ellen Brosseau’s called it the "newest edition of omnibus legislation from Trudeau's government," and blasted the Liberals for doing what they "once considered blatantly anti-democratic."
The Liberals came into power promising to end the use of omnibus bills, which they said were used “to prevent Parliament from properly reviewing and debating” matters, calling it "undemocratic."
Last year, the government amended the rules of the House of Commons to allow the speaker to split up omnibus bills for votes when there isn’t a common thread through various parts. This was meant to exclude budget bills, however on the government’s last budget bill, Speaker Geoff Regan found it to be omnibus, and allowed it to be divided up on the opposition’s request.
The previous Conservative government also had a reputation for bringing forward sizeable budget bills that made other policy changes not directly linked to the budget, like amending environmental regulations. That budget bill-- titled: C-38, Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act--spanned 425 pages.
Still, Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen expressed her distaste for the bill to CTVNews.ca in an email Wednesday.
"The tabling of C-74 is just the latest example of how Justin Trudeau has failed to keep his word," she said. "We are primarily concerned with the substance of the Bill that, among other things, implements the carbon tax."
During question period, NDP MPs took the government to task over what all the expansive piece of legislation, and what it doesn't.
NDP MP Peter Julian rose to question Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on the bill, and had members of caucus chanting in unison with him "another broken promise."
"The prime minister promised to finally deliver on pay equity. The budget bill revels another broken promise. The prime minister promised to deliver enhanced parental leave, the budget bill shows another broken promise… and the prime minister implied prior to the budget that he’d bring in pharmacare, another broken promise. So why doesn’t the prime minister stop breaking promises?” he said before getting cut off by the Speaker.
For the Liberal's first two budgets, the implementation bills were tabled in two parts.
In 2016 the government tabled:
- Bill C-15, Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 1, which was 179 pages
- Bill C-29, Budget Implementation Act, 2016, No. 2, which was 234 pages
In 2017 the government tabled: