Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation

That the House agree with the comments of the Right Honourable Member for Calgary Southwest on March 25, 1994, when he criticized omnibus legislation, suggesting that the subject matter of such bills is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put Members in conflict with their own principles and dividing the bill into several components would allow Members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill; and that the House instruct the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs to study what reasonable limits should be placed on the consideration of omnibus legislation and that the Committee report back its findings, including specific recommendations for legislative measures or changes to the Standing Orders, no later than December 10, 2012.


Elizabeth May: Mr. Speaker, I do apologize for raising a point of order in the midst the government House leader’s presentation, but I have been very patient in waiting to hear anything of relevance to the key motion before us on the importance of limiting omnibus legislation. A recitation of the government’s virtues is not on the floor for debate at the moment. We are talking about the importance of limiting the misuse and abuse of omnibus bills.

The Deputy Speaker: The hon. House leader.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: Mr. Speaker, responding to the point of order and not as part of my speech, I would point out that this motion arises from, as we heard from the Liberal House leader’s initial speech, concerns about the government’s budget implementation bill. I am reviewing the contents of that bill, the objectives, what it was seeking to do and why it is part of a coherent goal. Therefore, my presentation is quite responsive to the issue before us today.

The Deputy Speaker:  I am actually inclined to agree with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands. The hon. House leader for the government has spent, I think now, 30 seconds responding to the motion that is before the House and over 10 minutes addressing issues in the budget, which I have to say, in my interpretation of the situation, is very far from the motion before the House today for debate.

All of us understand the very wide latitude in the parameters of debate allowed in this House. The comments by the House leader to this point have not been totally irrelevant, but they are a very far stretch and so I would ask him to complete this part of his speech and address the issue before the House.

Hon. Peter Van Loan: Mr. Speaker, with the greatest respect, I and I think every member of the House will find great challenges addressing the motion before us without addressing the economic policy of the government. The very motion we are debating here today addresses budget implementation acts, which implement the budget, which implement the government’s economic action plan. If you, Mr. Speaker, are suggesting that we cannot discuss the very content of the bills that are being disputed on a motion that says that those contents should not be in those bills, you are asking us to debate in the House something which you then say we cannot debate.

I do not know how we can talk around the bills and what is in them without talking about the bills and what is in them and without talking about the economic action plan. If that is your ruling, Mr. Speaker, you should have ruled most of what was spoken by the opposition House leader out of order and every reference to any economic plan, anything to do with the budget or anything to do with the content of the budget will not be allowed today. We are talking about budget implementation bills, with the greatest of respect–

The Deputy Speaker:  The House leader for the official opposition is addressing the point of order?

Nathan Cullen: Mr. Speaker, I think my colleague across the way goes very close to attempting to challenge the decision that you just made. In your ruling, you talked about the proportionality of his speech and 30 seconds on the actual notion of omnibus bills, not with respect to just what happened in the previous budget, and then 95% of his discourse and everything in one particular budget bill misses the mark entirely of what we are attempting to address today.

What we are addressing today and what I will seek to do in my remarks is the use and misuse of omnibus legislation. There is lots to talk about in that without going into particulars and without attacking other parties for particular economic policies, both invented and real, and have lots of discourse in this place about the use of omnibus bills which members of his caucus had lots of opinions of when they were in opposition and maybe have fewer now that they are in government.

Without challenging the Chair, we are at the point where the House leader for the government can certainly talk a lot about his defence of the use and misuse of omnibus legislation without having to reiterate every talking point about the previous budget.

The Deputy Speaker: I will expand on my ruling to this degree. I am not ruling the House leader out of the order. I am simply inviting him, as all other members, to address the issue that is before the House. He is quite within the realm of relevancy with regard to the particular omnibus bill that was before us this past spring and can address comments to that.

I have to say to him and to other members of the House who are thinking along the same lines that you should not spend your whole time allotted to you in your speech to one particular bill. There is a broader issue before the House and that should be addressed as well in your speech.