Parliament pulls all nighter to pass COVID-19 package

by Elizabeth May | March 25, 2020 11:49 am

OTTAWA – Green MP Jenica Atwin (Fredericton) stood for all Greens in ensuring a package of emergency relief for Canadians passed the House and is headed to the Senate this morning.

Ms. Atwin noted that Greens did not like the first version of the Bill, which gave excessive and unlimited powers to the Minister of Finance. “Drafting in a hurry and in a pandemic is clearly not conducive to good legislation,” she said. “While imperfect, the Bill that passed around 5:30 AM Ottawa time was substantially improved and gets the funds flowing.”

Watching the proceedings from self-isolation in British Columbia, Green Party parliamentary leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands) agreed. “I remain concerned, particularly by part 8 which allows unlimited spending, to unlimited amounts. While the media refers to this Bill as an $82 billion package, there is no limit. We will remain vigilant and hope the Finance minister will not write big cheques to big oil and big banks. Emergency funding should be for workers and small and medium sized enterprises. We need to support the most vulnerable.”

Paul Manly (MP, Nanaimo-Ladysmith) expressed concerns held by the Green caucus. “ We were shocked by the overreach in the first version of the bill,” said Manly. “The initial version was a blank cheque. The Bill that was finally passed was much improved. We could live with it, but we still think the Emergencies Act could have been used instead. And we may still need it.”

“The Emergencies Act gives the government the ‘authorization to make emergency payments’ and has all the oversight tools required for the proper checks and balances needed in a parliamentary democracy. Greens had called for the Emergencies Act which would have made emergency payments possible, with limits and a framework that‎ required all actions be taken only insofar as they are ‘necessary to deal with the public health emergency.”

Green Party Interim Leader Jo-Ann Roberts concluded: “Canadians want all parties to agree on what comes next. As Interim Party Leader, I am so proud of Jenica Atwin, who with the support of Paul Manly and Elizabeth May, is making sure the government responds to the concerns being raised by Canadians about how to move forward in a way that respects the role of parliament.”

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For more information or to arrange an interview:

Rosie Emery

Press Secretary

613-562-4916×206

rosie.emery@greenparty.ca

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