While the lumping together of numerous pieces of federal legislation in one giant omnibus bill may not be precedent-setting, there is fear that doing so threatens to reduce democracy to mere window dressing.
Stephen Harper’s Conservative government, still relatively young in its first majority, reduced the level of debate on specific issues relating to everything from environmental protection to military spending to multiculturalism. No aspect of governmental operations was being spared.
The concern is that sections of the bill pinpointed by hard-working MPs as troublesome – remember, the bill affects every ministry – could not possibly be given the time needed to discuss potential problems with implementation before regulations and budgets get put in place.
It’s not just opposing MPs who were left scrambling by this tactic. Even Conservative MPs were forced to bone up on all aspects of the government’s budget legislation. Who’s got time for that? And how could we expect any of our elected representatives to be well-versed on even half of the legislation tabled?
Meanwhile, Opposition and other MPs tabled 800 possible amendments to the bill, which no doubt caused further confusion and anxiety among this country’s lawmakers as the bill went through the debate process.
The feds argued time is of the essence as they work to keep the economy from spiralling as a growing number of European countries are experiencing.
Still, that is not reason enough to subvert the democratic process and allow for the kind of proper debate that Canadians have come to expect.
To use a well-used phrase, this can only end badly, both for the continuity of services, checks and balances in this country and the preservation of the type of democracy we all voted for.
– Victoria News