Questioning the Liberals’ use of Time Allocation and Omnibus Budget Bills

Elizabeth May

Madam Speaker, with respect to these debates about time allocation, I would have wished we could ask questions of the Government House Leader, because decisions about the way the government is proceeding and the increased use of time allocation is the House leader’s area. The breakdown in relations between the House leaders of the largest three parties in this place is leading to an increased use of what I would call Harper tactics.

Although this is not an omnibus budget bill with the weight of the egregious misuse of power we saw in Bill C-38 and Bill C-45 in 2012, this is nonetheless an omnibus budget bill, and unfortunately so. While there is a connection to the parliamentary budget officer, because “budget” is in the title, the creation of a stand-alone parliamentary budget officer as an independent officer of Parliament, as promised in the Liberal platform, is a subject of such importance that it would have been preferable to have that discussion separate from the passage of budgetary measures.

Time allocation at this point has the effect of disadvantaging those members of Parliament who belong to parties with fewer than 12 members. Our constituents are equal. Our rights, in theory, are equal. It is disproportionately disadvantageous to members of smaller parties or independents when time allocation is used. In my view, it should be used extremely rarely. To say, as the Liberals now do, that they are using it less than Harper did is no excuse for adopting bad tactics and majority rule in a way that hurts the healthy functioning of this place.

I would urge the government to reconsider and not apply time allocation. The Minister of Finance will tell us that it must be done, but it must not be done.


Bill Morneau – Toronto Centre, ON

Madam Speaker, there were a few questions or comments in what she said. To start, we have talked about the fact that we believe it is time to move this bill to committee. We think that is an effective way for us to move forward to make sure that we can make a difference for Canadians.

With respect to the parliamentary budget officer, we have also said that we believe our overriding goal is clear: we want this office to be effective and independent. We have also said that we are open to amendments, so as we move forward in committee, we are going to listen and hear potential improvements. That is something that we are open-minded to and will consider as we move forward.

With respect to the size of the budget bill, we want to be clear that the measures in the bill are related to the budget. We are not trying to sneak things into the bill that are unrelated to the budget. We are not trying to do something that perhaps has been done in the past to get things through without due consideration. The budget bill in fact includes only measures that are related to the budget. We believe that is appropriate. That is what we committed to doing in our election campaign and that is exactly what we are delivering with this budget bill.