OTTAWA – POLITICS – This past week, Halloween week no less, the Conservatives tabled a new monster 479-page omnibus budget bill. While it contains a few treats the bill is also chocked full of the same old tired tricks.
It’s hard to complain that every single page of every single bill tabled by this government, or any government, are all bad. It is never the case. Unfortunately, rather than tabling normal legislation and having a proper debate this government hides behind these massive bills that are chocked full of unrelated policies and often have nothing to do with the federal budget that they are supposed to implement.
It’s all or nothing with these bills and it is by design. The Conservatives table bills like this so that when an election rolls around they can say; ‘You New Democrats didn’t support policy ‘A,’ when in fact we did but were opposed policies ‘B through Z.’ The Conservatives make sure that all parliamentarians, including their own, are never given an opportunity to support some policies while opposing others.
For instance New Democrats opposed a previous omnibus budget bill in 2012, Bill C-45, because it reduced the number of environmentally protected lakes, streams, and rivers in Canada from over 1,000,000 to less than 100. Unfortunately, to oppose this we also had to vote against more than 200 changes to legislation that we supported – in the same bill. A few treats buried in great big pile of tricks., and the current bill before parliament, known as C-43, is no different.
First the few treats we have found buried in this bill. The items in C-43 that we support include many of our own ideas, which we will now be forced to oppose. This bill, if passed, will enact several New Democrat priorities including, but not limited to;
- The NDP commitment to finally end “pay-to-pay” billing by telecom and broadcasting companies wherein a customer is charged a fee for being provided a paper copy of their bill, and which New Democrats were the first party to oppose. You can read more about our opposition to this outrageous practice here: http://www.ndp.ca/news/conservatives-need-to-put-end-to-pay-to-pay-fees
- Implements a DNA data bank to help solve missing persons’ cases. The NDP has been asking for this since 2007.
- Takes action to address major appeals backlog at the Social Security Tribunal by allowing for more tribunal members. New Democrats have repeatedly asked the government to address this issue to ensure that all Canadians can access the benefits they are entitled to.
Now for the tricks, which have some very serious implications for Canadian business and families;
- Implements the Conservatives’ “Small Business Job Credit” which the independent Parliamentary Budget Officer (appointed by Mr. Harper) has said will create at most 800 jobs at a cost of $500 million, and which actually creates a greater incentive for firing an employee than for hiring You can read an independent analysis online at: http://tinyurl.com/SBTCA
- Centralizes Ministerial power over the expansion or modification of airports – raising the risk that local consultation will not occur on major projects no matter how much they may affect your well-being and standard of living.
- Once again makes significant changes to patent and industrial design laws even though the Conservatives were heavily criticized by business groups and lawyers for changes to trademark law in their last budget bill.
New Democrats do not want to see small business, or big business or government for that matter, rewarded for putting Canadians out of work. However, to oppose that terrible policy we must also oppose a DNA bank to help solve murders and missing persons’ cases. Putting these two policies, completely unrelated and which have nothing to do with the budget, together in this monster budget bill is done for no other reason than to make New Democrats and other MPs look bad when they oppose it. We think it’s both cowardly and shameful behaviour by Mr. Harper and his petty government.
So as you can see another monstrous budget bill is before us, and as usual there are far more tricks than treats. It’s the reason why New Democrats will again be forced to oppose a few good policies — so that we can oppose the many, many, many other bad ones that are packed with them.
John Rafferty MP