Tory concession ‘a thimbleful of respect’: MP

The Harper government has made another small concession to allow greater scrutiny of its massive, omnibus budget implementation bill.

OTTAWA — The Harper government has made another small concession to allow greater scrutiny of its massive, omnibus budget implementation bill.

It agreed to a Liberal proposal Wednesday to allow nine House of Commons committees — not just the finance committee — to examine different aspects of the 400-plus-page bill, which makes changes to some 60 pieces of legislation.

But Liberal finance critic Scott Brison said the concession should not be interpreted as respect for parliamentary democracy.

“This is a thimbleful of respect for Parliament in a sea of contempt.”

Brison noted that MPs will still be forced to make a single vote on the bill, even though it contains a diverse collection of measures, some of which opposition parties oppose, others of which they support.

This is the second omnibus bill the Conservatives have introduced to implement last March’s budget. The first mammoth bill last spring triggered an opposition filibuster that brought Parliament to a virtual standstill for several days.

Interim Liberal Leader Bob Rae refused to rule out employing similar tactics to stall the second bill. He said his party’s approach will depend on the government’s willingness to accept amendments.

On that score, the government signalled Wednesday that it’s not likely to accept any opposition amendments to the bill.

NDP environment critic Megan Leslie asked in the Commons whether the study by committees will be strictly “look but don’t touch” or whether the bill can be amended.

Finance Minister Jim Flaherty responded by noting that last week the government agreed to hive off a portion of the bill dealing with reform of MPs’ lucrative pension plan. That portion was immediately passed, with unanimous support.

Flaherty said the government would look at hiving off any other portions that opposition parties care to pass unanimously. He made no mention of accepting amendments to parts of the bill for which there is no unanimous support.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair said there are some things the NDP would agree to quickly pass, such as tax breaks for small business. But he doubted the Conservatives would agree.

“The problem with the Conservatives is it’s always a take it or leave it approach,” Mulcair said.

Rae said there are measures in the bill that Liberals support but “there are very (much) more elements” that they oppose.

The bill makes changes to everything from the Indian Act and Canadian Labour Code to the Canada Shipping Act. Among other things, it kills off independent tribunals that examine such things as employment insurance premiums.

Most controversially, the bill reduces regulatory obstacles to development, sharply reducing project approvals required under the Navigable Waters Protection Act and making further changes to environmental assessment laws.

It exempts entirely the planned new Windsor-Detroit bridge from a range of federal laws under which permits, approvals or authorizations would normally be required.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 1,910 active cases of COVID-19 as of Wednesday. Red Deer is reporting five active cases, with 108 recovered. (File photo)
Red Deer reports 25th COVID-19 death

415 new cases identified provincially Saturday

Erika Fetterly, owner of EFP Studios, recently launched the Let Them Have A Voice campaign. (Contributed photo)
Central Alberta photographer’s campaign aims to give youths a voice

An Innisfail photographer is giving a platform to young central Albertans so… Continue reading

More than 120,000 Albertans have signed up to get the COVID-19 vaccine in the first two days of appointment bookings. (Photo courtesy Alberta Health Services Twitter)
Alberta Health Services apologizes after seniors struggle to book vaccine appointments

The CEO and president of Alberta Health Services is apologizing after seniors… Continue reading

Red Deer’s Kyle Moore, 26, will be a houseguest on Season 9 of Big Brother Canada. (Photo courtesy Big Brother Canada)
Red Deer man will be a houseguest on Big Brother Canada

A Red Deer man will be a houseguest on the upcoming season… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools says that in the absence of additional funds from the provincial government, there was no consideration of using alternate classroom sites in the district. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Red Deer Public Schools launches online engagement process

Red Deer Public schools is seeking community input to help ensure a… Continue reading

An arrest by Red Deer RCMP is facing online scrutiny. No charges have been laid and the incident is still under investigation. (Screenshot of YouTube video)
Red Deer RCMP investigating violent arrest caught on video

Police say officer ‘acted within the scope of his duties’

Ottawa Senators goaltender Matt Murray (30) stands in his crease as Calgary Flames left wing Andrew Mangiapane (88), left to right, defenceman Rasmus Andersson (4), Matthew Tkachuk (19), Mikael Backlund (11) and Mark Giordano (5) celebrate a goal during second period NHL action in Ottawa on Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Calgary Flames beat Ottawa 6-3 to end Senators’ three-game win streak

Flames 6 Senators 3 OTTAWA — The Calgary Flames used a balanced… Continue reading

Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews (34) falls on his knees as he skates around Ottawa Senators defenceman Artem Zub (2) during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, February 18, 2021. The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews when they take on the Edmonton Oilers Saturday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto star Auston Matthews won’t play as Leafs face Oilers

EDMONTON — The Maple Leafs will be without star centre Auston Matthews… Continue reading

Crosses are displayed in memory of the elderly who died from COVID-19 at the Camilla Care Community facility during the COVID-19 pandemic in Mississauga, Ont., on November 19, 2020. The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection is likely to be much higher than recorded because of death certificates don't always list the virus as the cause of a fatality, experts say. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Death certificates don’t accurately reflect the toll of the pandemic, experts say

The number of people who would have died from a COVID-19 infection… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto, Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021. A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough to cover the average pinky nail but is made up of more than 280 components and requires at least three manufacturing plants to produce. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
From science to syringe: COVID-19 vaccines are miracles of science and supply chains

OTTAWA — A single dose of Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is barely enough… Continue reading

Wetaskiwin RCMP say a Maskwacis man died after he was struck by a vehicle. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Clare’s Law in Saskatchewan used handful of times; Mounties review their role

REGINA — A first-of-its-kind law in Canada meant to warn those at… Continue reading

The Magpie river in Quebec is shown in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Boreal River MANDATORY CREDIT
Quebec river granted legal rights as part of global ‘personhood’ movement

MONTREAL — With its kilometres of rapids and deep blue waters winding… Continue reading

Thorough sanding of a table top is usually the first step to renewing a finish. Wax contaminants can sometimes still remain on a surface like this after sanding. Cleaning with rubbing alcohol and a rag gets rid of these contaminants without leaving a residue behind. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)
Houseworks: Fixing wood finishes

Q: How can I stop polyurethane from beading up on a mahogany… Continue reading

Most Read