Skip to main content

Prime Minister Stephen Harper speaks at the Abilities Centre in Whitby, Ont. on Thursday, Oct. 9, 2014. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah Yoon

Hannah Yoon/THE CANADIAN PRESS

Whatever feelings of solidarity were aroused by the sight of the three main party leaders hugging it out on the Commons floor the day after last week's lone-gunman assault on Parliament Hill were extinguished several hours later, when the Harper government tabled yet another of its contemptuous omnibus budget bills. The new normal is the old normal in Ottawa.

We have been decrying the government's addiction to omnibus budget bills – and to smaller bills that bundle unrelated policies together – with growing alarm since 2010. That year, the minority Conservative government tabled an overstuffed turkey that topped out at 880 pages and was served with the threat of an election if the opposition failed to support its passage. It lumped together such unrelated issues as ending Canada Post's monopoly on overseas mail delivery with changes to environmental assessments.

Subsequent omnibus bills have ranged between 300 and 450 pages. All have been an abuse of process and shown contempt for Parliament by subverting its role. Major changes to policy and law that should have been examined by MPs have been pushed through with almost no debate, sometimes with disastrous results for the Harper government. For instance, one omnibus budget bill contained an amendment to the Supreme Court Act that allowed the Prime Minister to name Justice Marc Nadon to the Supreme Court in spite of his ineligibility. We know how that ended.

Story continues below advertisement

And now the government has returned with another omnibus budget bill of 458 pages. Buried within it is the language from a private member's bill that would allow the provinces to deny welfare to refugee claimants awaiting a decision on their status, among other vulnerable non-citizens. That bill, C-585, would have gone to second reading next month; now it is in Finance Minister Joe Oliver's budget monstrosity.

Among other things, this settles the question of whether the government supports the private member's bills that its caucus members table as though they were their own creation. Even more tellingly, it suggests that the Harper government's contempt for Parliament has become so ingrained that it could not be bothered to hide it even on a day that was marked by a heightened respect and gratitude for our country's greatest symbol of democracy.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

If your comment doesn't appear immediately it has been sent to a member of our moderation team for review

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.