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At Stake

New powers in the budget bill Add to ...

At 904 pages, the Conservative government's budget bill is twice as long as the 451-page budget book released in March. Critics say many of the measures in the bill should be split off and studied independently because they shift decision-making power away from Parliament. Among those measures:

The nuclear option

Parliament will not have a say in the future sale of Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd., a Crown corporation that reports to Natural Resources. Under the heading "additional powers," the bill states that "the minister may do anything" he wishes regarding the sale of Canada's nuclear assets.

Assessments by order

The Minister of the Environment will have the power to establish the scope of any project that involves an environmental assessment, and will have legal authority to decide that an environmental assessment is not required for federally funded infrastructure projects.

Going postal

A section related to Canada Post overturns several court rulings that went in the Crown corporation's favour and ends its monopoly on the collection of mail with destinations outside Canada. The Canadian Union of Postal Workers warned the House finance committee that the move, first introduced as a stand-alone bill in 2007, will undercut the ability to finance rural mail delivery.

Controlling credit cards

A new Payment Card Networks Act gives the government new powers to set rules for credit and debit cards. It expands the mandate of the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada to overseeing whether private card issuers are following codes of conduct.

New pension powers

A section aimed at addressing the problems that occurred during the recession, when private pension plans were shut down during bankruptcies, makes nine changes to the Pensions Benefits Standards Act.

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