House of Commons Hansard #162 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was omnibus.

Topics

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, does the member think 400 pages of information, 735 clauses, 70 acts of Parliament and 60 distinct measures are an abuse of this—

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

Order. A short answer from the hon. member for Random—Burin—St. George's.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Judy Foote Random—Burin—St. George's, NL

Mr. Speaker, as my colleague has noted, this is really not about democracy at all.

Today, the government House leader foolishly told Canadians not to concern themselves with procedure. It is crazy for the government House leader to say such a thing in Parliament, where we are all about procedure and making things happen in the right way and ensuring that what is discussed in the House among MPs of all parties should be about democracy.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

October 16th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have a chance to speak to this Liberal motion on omnibus bills today and to why there should be a committee to review and report on how they may be used properly.

Omnibus bills are intended to be a tool for matters of housekeeping and efficiency, for grouping minor and uncontroversial updates into one place. They have a role. As a minister, I have used omnibus bills as they are intended to be used. They are intended to facilitate parliamentary debate by bringing together all the minor technical and administrative amendments to legislation that arise from a single policy decision, which is the critical part in how far Parliament and the Prime Minister have strayed.

I will not pretend that the phenomenon of abusive omnibus bills being used to bundle the major and consequential changes of numerous policy decisions is a new one, but I will contend that under the current government it has become an unparalleled expression of contempt for Canadians and a tool for the dismantling of a core principle of our democracy, that of Parliament's accountability to constituents.

In 2005, under another government, the budget bill was 120 pages long and at the time it was a record length. The opposition leader of the day, now the right hon. Prime Minister, asked:

How can members represent their constituents on these various areas when they are forced to vote in a block on such legislation...?

Exactly, is what I would say.

He denounced omnibus bills as undemocratic and a “contradiction to the conventions and practices of the House”. That is exactly so.

Therefore, I would ask today's Prime Minister where his integrity was regarding Bill C-38, his omnibus bill, presented last spring? If his words of 2005 indeed expressed his convictions, I would ask this. What happened to his convictions?

Members were forced last June to vote on a block of legislation four times the length and with 400 times the impact on Canadians compared to the omnibus bill that he so decried in 2005. Why did the Prime Minister do that and why is he preparing another such travesty of an omnibus bill that is expected to be presented this fall? Why is his tactic, this misuse of omnibus bills, so wrong? Because it does not allow parliamentarians to do their jobs for the people they represent.

Let us look at Bill C-38 for a moment. It is 452 pages long, has 753 clauses and amends 70 different acts. First and foremost, it is an abuse of democracy to lump together such an array of massive policy change. Permit me to list a few examples.

Bill C-38 increases government's power over people's lives in many domains, such as immigration, access to employment insurance, pensions and industrial developments in people's backyards, to name a few.

As Bill C-38 increases ministers' individual powers over individual people's lives, it reduces the very accountability mechanisms that make sure these powers are not being abused. That is scary stuff indeed.

The breadth of policy change in Bill C-38 is breathtaking, such as changes to the very fabric of financial security for seniors, changes in justice that are fundamental to Canada's immigration intake process, and changes to our critical environmental safety net.

Bill C-38 gave Revenue Canada $8 million a year in extra money to intimidate and punish environmental and other not-for-profit organizations that dare to speak up in the public interest. How many Canadians wanted that? How many Canadians thought they were voting for that? That is 10 times the dollars that the government claims it will be saving by eliminating the Kitsilano Coast Guard search and rescue base in the heart of the busiest harbour in Canada. Many of my constituents, every one that I have heard from, is angry about the closure of that base because they know that it will lead to preventable deaths.

Therefore, Bill C-38 was an attack on democracy, an attack on the environment and an attack on Canadian values and the Canadian people. To lump these fundamental rewrites of policy and practice into a single bill that cannot be properly examined, understood, debated, communicated nor amended is an abuse of democratic principles. That abuse of democracy must end.

The Prime Minister used to agree with me on that but that was then and this is now. I would contend that the government's reliance on omnibus budget bills is a symptom of an underlying condition, the condition of contempt. This has been amply proven. The government has contempt for democracy, contempt for Parliament, contempt for the rule of the law, contempt for civil society and contempt for Canadians.

Canada is a country built on hard work, responsibility, freedom, equality, opportunity, compassion and respect for one another. Those are deep Liberal values but also Canadian values. Canada is a country in which contempt by its leaders for its people has no place. With Canada's history of sacrifice in defence of democracy, we must never forget that Parliament is important. What we do here and how we do it matters.

Having a healthy democracy is the Canadian way. Having a government that is accountable for its actions and decisions is the Canadian way. Having transparent processes and procedures is the Canadian way. Having a government that gives people the opportunity to get involved in politics and to participate in decisions that affect them is the Canadian way.

On the flip side, omnibus bills are an affront to democracy. They are an affront to Canada's political traditions. They are an affront to the rights of our people. There is a constitutional problem with omnibus bills because the legal boundaries are unclear. There is also a problem at the political level.

However, there are solutions. I am looking at the scope of the task ahead of us. The committee is just the first step.

The committee must do its work but that is just the first step. The committee must find out how this kind of abuse is prevented in other western Liberal democracies. It must propose changes to tighten up the latitude that exists for abusing omnibus bills and apply accountability that does not exist today.

We must ask ourselves this question: Is there not something fundamentally wrong with an electoral system, Canada's electoral system, in which 25% of eligible voters can provide a governing party with a majority, a government that can then proceed to make the kinds of major policy changes we saw in Bill C-38 without due process, without respect, with contempt and with impunity?

I can picture a day when our electoral system will strengthen democratic accountability and not weaken it. I can picture a day when the proportion of each party's public representatives in this place will more closely reflect the will of the voters. I can picture this renewed Canadian democracy creating the incentive for parliamentarians to really work together across party lines on the big challenges of the day. It is time to have that conversation with Canadians. How we elect our Parliament, how we govern ourselves, how we include and consult, and how we write and debate our legislation says something important about Canada and the kind of people Canadians want to be.

The government's abuse of omnibus bills represents secrecy, contempt, exclusion and meanness. That is not Canada, that is not who Canadians are and that means this abuse of power must be fixed. We can start right now by voting in favour of the Liberal motion to end the misuse of omnibus legislation.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

NDP

Anne Minh-Thu Quach Beauharnois—Salaberry, QC

Mr. Speaker, once again I thank the Liberal member for bringing up everything that is despicable, disrespectful and anti-democratic in the omnibus bill introduced by the Conservatives and the upcoming bill that they are supposed to be introducing this week, which is even bigger, even thicker and probably even more controversial.

I recall that, between 1993 and 2006, the Liberals also introduced 14 omnibus bills, which is one per year. Now they are rising to criticize this practice. I would think they recognized that this was also anti-democratic.

Why is it worse now than when they were in power?

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, I thank the NDP member for her question.

I already mentioned that there were omnibus bills at the time. They were much shorter. There were fewer political issues and no controversial issues. What we are seeing now is an outright abuse of the process, and it is time for that to stop.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I would caution my NDP colleague not to be sucked in by the talking points of the government. We are talking apples and oranges: a 21-page budget bill versus a 400-page budget bill. Do not fall for that stuff.

I would ask my colleague what aspects of the budget would have benefited from a full and thorough investigation by committee.

The fact is that the Conservatives now have a piece of legislation at the human resources committee, Bill C-44, which would impact about 6,000 Canadians. The bill received the unanimous consent of the House and it is now in committee for full hearings with witnesses and testimony. However, on something like working while on claim, which they have just made a mess of and impacts 900,000 Canadians, it gets flushed through in this omnibus bill.

Since the Conservatives have royally jigged up working while on claim, what other aspects of the bill spring to mind that may have been tweaked a little had it had the opportunity to go to committee?

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Liberal

Joyce Murray Vancouver Quadra, BC

Mr. Speaker, what immediately springs to mind for British Columbians or any Canadian who wants a strong economy that protects and restores of the environment without degrading it, are the changes to the Environmental Assessment Act. We saw a massive erasing of 30 years of thoughtful process to assess the potential impacts of development and to provide direction as to how development could take place in a way that would not impact the environment. This was very useful public policy that has been undermined completely. There will be 3,000 environmental assessments a year that will no longer take place.

I do want to add that it is bad for business. We see what happens when an industry does not have the trust of the public, thanks to the intervention by the Conservative government which undermines the trust of the public in the protection of the environment with the kinds of measures that Bill C-38 highlighted.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Macleod
Alberta

Conservative

Ted Menzies Minister of State (Finance)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand and speak against the motion brought forward today. I know my Liberal colleagues will be shocked at that but I do take exception to some of the comments that have been made here this morning and I will reflect on those.

To sum it up, we on this side of the House recognize that not only the Canadian economy but the economies of the world are in a fragile recovery mode right now and so it takes comprehensive plans to ensure we can deal with that fragile recovery. I would argue, and I will go on to explain why, that comprehensive legislation is required to enact a comprehensive plan.

We tabled a comprehensive budget early in the spring and it requires comprehensive legislation to enact that, just like it has for every other budget that has been tabled in this House throughout the years. There is nothing different about it. A government puts forward a budget that is actually the plan for the government and that plan impacts different pieces of legislation that need to be changed. That is exactly what was done in the first budget implementation act and we will see the continuation of that in the second budget implementation act. Because of that, I would argue that Canada, because of this comprehensive plan, is in the good recovery mode that it is in.

We have actually helped our businesses create jobs and grow the economy. On March 29, our government introduced the 2012 budget, the economic action plan 2012. It is a prudent and long-term plan to grow Canada's economy, create jobs and return to balanced budgets. When discussing this plan, we must consider it in a global context, as I referred to earlier. Thanks to the help of our Conservative government's economic leadership, Canada has fared much better than all of our G7 counterparts.

I will go through some of the examples. First and foremost, since July 2009, and I spoke to the job recovery, we now have 820,000 net new jobs, which is, by far, the strongest job growth record among all of the G7 countries. That is because we have a comprehensive plan and because we put forward legislation to enact that plan.

Second, more than 90% of all those jobs created since July 2009 are full-time positions and more than 75% of them are in the private sector.

Third, both the IMF and the OECD project that Canada will have among the strongest growth in the G7 countries in the years ahead.

Fourth, for the fifth year in a row, the World Economic Forum has ranked Canada's financial system as the safest and the soundest in the world. Our comprehensive budget implementation bills helped reaffirm that.

Fifth, three credit rating agencies, Moody's, Fitch and Standard & Poor's, have all recently reaffirmed Canada's top-tier triple-A credit rating. In fact, it was Fitch that recently praised Canada when it said:

Years of fiscal responsibility and a strong institutional setting created the conditions for an effective fiscal policy response to the global financial crisis. An early commitment to balance the budget over the medium term placed Canada's fiscal credibility ahead of many peers.

The list goes on, but the global economy does remain fragile and it is a different story than we see here in Canada.

In Europe, tremendous economic challenges remain, of which we are reminded all too frequently. The eurozone's real GDP contracted in the fourth quarter of 2011, was virtually flat in the first quarter of 2012 and has since contracted again in the second quarter of 2012. The most recent indicators out of Greece indicate that unemployment is about 25% and Spain is not far behind.

In budget implementation act one, we addressed those issues. That was a comprehensive legislation that needed to address EI and we did that.

In short, the situation is not pretty in some European countries and that is why their leaders need to firmly and permanently deal with their economic problem. The recent announcement by the European Central Bank in support of the European sovereign bond markets is a step in the right direction—

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. I apologize to the hon. minister across the way, but I feel his speech, while fascinating in terms of the fates of European governments, strays quite far from the question before us, which is does the House not need to express itself, meet in committee and find some way to provide rules and guidelines so that omnibus bills of all manner do not stray from one single purpose. I do not hear in the minister's speech any reflection of the question before the House.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, not very much of this speech actually reflects on the European situation. We can certainly expand on that, but I would suggest I am drawing a link. The lack of being able to pass legislation to actually react to the world economic crisis is why Europe is still having trouble and I am trying to explain that we do need the comprehensive legislation that was passed in the House in the spring. We need a second one. We have more to do yet and I would suggest that everything I am talking about is actually drawn back to why we need to table, discuss and pass comprehensive legislation.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Conservative

The Acting Speaker Barry Devolin

I thank both the Minister of State for Finance and the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for their interventions. I understand that the question of relevance arose earlier this morning prior to my taking the chair at noon. I would like to make two points. The first is a general point and the second is more specific.

In general terms, there are rules in the Standing Orders that relate to relevance and repetition. It is fair to say that over the years chair occupants have taken a rather wide view of those two matters for the reason that the Chair does not want to unduly limit debate in the House and the opportunity for members to bring the facts that they feel are important or relevant to bear. There are times when the Chair asks members to come back to the matter at hand, but over the eight plus years that I have been in this place, I think it is fair to say that the Chair has taken a relatively wide view of the question of relevance. I think it is also fair to say that when members give a 10 or 20 minute speech, they will often use examples and make arguments that wander away from the principal matter before the House, but it is their responsibility to somehow connect it back to the question at hand.

I would encourage all hon. members to do two things.

First, when members make a presentation to the House, they be mindful of the business before the House and they be respectful of that business as well as the process. This place will function better if all hon. members make a good faith effort to do that.

Second, I would also remind all hon. members that wishing for a much narrower definition of what is relevant and wishing for the Chair to take a much narrower definition of that would have consequences beyond the matter before the House at that time.

I would ask all hon. members if they could balance those two principles. Again, it has been my experience that most of the time members do this very well. While some members take a circuitous route to come to the matter at hand, most of the time they do that.

I have a more specific comment. I have reviewed the blues from earlier today. When the question of relevance arose and when the hon. minister of state rose to speak, I listened very carefully to what he said in order to measure the relevance. Without getting into the substance of the debate before the House today, there is a question of the relevance of omnibus or comprehensive legislation and at what point that becomes inappropriate. The more specific suggestion is that the House ought to refer this to procedure and House affairs committee so it can come back with a ruling.

I heard the minister of state say that he disagreed with the motion before the House today, that he felt that omnibus or comprehensive legislation was not inherently unacceptable or inappropriate in this place. He further argued that matters such as the budget and budget implementation bills were by necessity broad in scope and that it was on that basis that he would vote against the motion.

Subsequently, my expectation is that the minister of state is bringing specific examples to light of how he feels, essentially making the argument that comprehensive legislation is in fact necessary and therefore suggesting that it is inappropriate and that the rules ought to be changed. He disagrees with that proposal. I respect the fact that there are other members in the House who would disagree with his point of view.

With that, I would ask the hon. Minister of State for Finance to continue, to be mindful of the question of relevance and to focus on the matter that is before the House, which is the opposition motion, and to move toward the end of his speech.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:30 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, you do reaffirm my belief in the wisdom of the Chair. I can do this on a very repetitious basis, drawing every example I use back to the fact that it requires comprehensive legislation. If the opposition wishes that I do that, I may fall into what you have suggested is not appropriate, and that is repetitiveness. I will try not to do that either.

What I was speaking about was Europe and the threat to the global economy, the indecisions, the lack of a comprehensive plan among the European Union community.

I will go back to my first statement that a comprehensive plan requires comprehensive legislation. That is what the budget implementation act, Bill C-38, was. I suggest there will be comprehensive legislation following soon to implement the rest of a comprehensive plan to keep Canada on track.

Another example I would use is in the U.S. There seems to be some indecision down there, a lack of being able to make a firm decision, perhaps a lack of a comprehensive plan such as we had in Bill C-38, which was a comprehensive legislation.

The U.S. needs to get its fiscal house in order. We are well on our way to doing that. It also needs to ensure that there is certainty in the short term so markets and investors can be confident that economic growth will not be interrupted. That is what we saw in our comprehensive legislation in the spring.

In these uncertain times, Canada's economic stability depends on the implementation of a clear plan, a comprehensive plan to safeguard our economy. This situation demands that Canada cannot be complacent. We cannot allow political gridlock and instability to stall vital economic and fiscal reforms as we are witnessing in the U.S. and Europe.

Moreover, in a rapidly changing and global marketplace where Canada faces tough competition from emerging economies like Brazil, Russia, China and India, we cannot afford to delay action to support our economy and measures to return to balanced budgets.

Therefore, in budget implementation one, Bill C-38, we actually put forward solutions to allow our Canadian companies to compete.

I think the argument is very valid, that in order for our economy to continue to grow, we need to put in place legislation and we need to do that soon. We gathered it together in a budget implementation act and we will have the second one coming soon that actually does that. It will allow our Canadian companies to compete internationally, to be able to export their resources, to streamline that process and to ensure that it is an environmentally sound plan. That is all part of our comprehensive budget plan.

The challenges that our economy faces are not small and one dimensional and neither is our plan. It is comprehensive and ambitious. It responds to the magnitude of the threats that Canada faces in this uncertain climate today.

In order to implement the plan, certain measures require legislation to be adopted by Parliament. In April 2012, we introduced Bill C-38, the one I would suggest the Liberals are referring to here today, which included provisions to spur job growth, to keep social programs sustainable, to eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending of taxpayer dollars and much more, hence, the comprehensive budget implementation bill.

Let me give the members opposite some examples of this action and explain how we plan on spurring job growth. One is by developing our resources responsibly. The NDP, when it comes to resources, has suggested it would like to implement a job-killing carbon scheme that would increase the price of absolutely everything we buy and consume. That was not part of our plan and it never will be.

Our government knows that this would not work. Instead, we are focused on responsible resource development, which will streamline the review process for major economic projects by providing predictable timelines for project approvals. It will prevent long delays that kill potential jobs and stall economic growth by putting valuable investments at risk. Most important, responsible resource development will create good, skilled, well-paying jobs in cities and communities all across this great country while at the same time maintaining the highest possible standards for protecting the environment. That required a comprehensive piece of legislation, Bill C-38.

With emerging economies in Asia and around the world providing the potential to create even more jobs and growth, our government will act swiftly to implement its plan for responsible resource development in the interests of the Canadian economy.

However, that is not all, as we have much more to do. We are making employment insurance a more efficient program, one that is focused on job creation and opportunities by removing disincentives to work and supporting unemployed Canadians.

We are also helping build a fast and flexible economic immigration system to meet Canada's labour market needs by reducing the backlog in the federal skilled worker program, returning applications and refunding fees to those who applied prior to February 27, 2008.

Our government is also making fiscally responsible decisions to ensure that spending stays in check and does not go down the path that we have seen in many European countries. To help achieve this we are modernizing Canada's currency by gradually eliminating the penny from Canada's coinage system. This as well requires changes to legislation and is why we table comprehensive legislation. This alone will save taxpayers $11 million every year.

Nonetheless, this plan is about much more than reducing spending. As a government we have a responsibility to Canadians to ensure that Canada's social programs remain sustainable over the long term. That is why in budget 2012 we took action to ensure that the retirement security of all Canadians, now and into the future, is sound by placing Canada's old age security program on a sustainable path. Beginning in April of 2023, the age of eligibility for OAS and the guaranteed income supplement will gradually begin to increase from 65 to 67. These changes reflect demographic shifts in Canada's population and are necessary to ensure that OAS and GIS are available for future generations of Canadians. This also requires comprehensive legislation so that we can enact the necessary changes to make both of these programs sustainable.

The problem with the members opposite is that they do not think down the road; they do not realize the changes that we need to make to make sure that these programs stay sustainable.

Our government is taking real action to ensure that Canada's economy continues to create jobs and grow. What, you may ask, does our government's plan do for Canadian families and communities? That would be one of the best questions to ask here today and I shall answer it.

I will talk about economic action plan 2012 and how it builds on our government's strong record by proposing new measures for Canadian families. For example, our action plan will improve the application of the GST and HST and income tax systems to a number of health care services, drugs and medical devices to reflect the evolving nature of the health care sector and to better meet the health care needs of Canadians.

That was required both in the comprehensive legislation that we passed and in legislation that will be forthcoming soon. Specifically, it would mean exempting from the GST and HST pharmacists' professional services, other than their prescription drug dispensing services, which are already zero-rated under the GST and HST.

It would also mean expanding the zero-rated treatment under the GST-HST for corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses supplied on the prescription of an eye-care professional to include corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses supplied on the order of a qualified optician who is authorized, under provincial law, to issue such an order.

It would mean expanding the list of health care professionals on whose orders certain medical and assistive devices are zero-rated under the GST and HST so as to reflect the increasing involvement of health care professionals, such as nurses, in giving orders for these devices.

It would also mean adding to the list of non-prescription drugs that are zero-rated under GST and HST.

It is obvious that we needed to open up the Income Tax Act to do that. It is part of the budget. It was referred to in the budget. It is part of our action plan. It requires comprehensive legislation to do that. That is just one of the reasons I will be opposing the motion today.

It would also mean expanding the list of GST and HST zero-rated medical and assistive devices and the list of expenses a person may claim for income tax purposes under the medical expense tax credit to include such things a blood coagulation monitors for use by people who require anti-coagulation therapy.

Every time I say zero-rated, I see a confused look on the faces of the opposition members. This is not surprising since we all know that the Liberals actually favour higher taxes. Perhaps that is why they actually opposed our budget implementation act, Bill C-38.

We know what the Liberals do when they have a chance to support initiatives that would lower taxes for Canadian families. We have seen example after example. They simply vote against these measures. That is exactly what they did with policies like the refundable working income tax benefit back in 2007. That is exactly what they did with our government's economic action plan.

Let us take a look at some of the initiatives that would also help Canadian communities but which the opposition also voted against.

Our government's plan would make direct investments in research that would support our communities. Canada's position as a world leader in research excellence is a key source of the discoveries, innovations and advanced skills that not only result in better health outcomes but also drive job creation and opportunities in the knowledge economy.

The measures in the economic action plan would help strengthen Canada's leadership position by supporting industry/academic research collaborations, as well as advanced health and public policy research initiatives of strategic importance. We all understand how important that is. The minister sitting near me here today is leading that incredible challenge, and we are winning on that.

We are announcing new chairs at universities and colleges across this country. Why is that? It is because we enacted legislation that would allow and fund that. We are proud of that record.

We have many examples. For example, in the area of health research, we have allocated $15 million per year for patient-oriented research. That was part of Bill C-38, which the opposition voted against.

I could go on and on about all the things the opposition voted against, However, I think the fundamental comment I will finish with is that I am proud to oppose the opposition motion this morning. We have great reason to think we are on the right track.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Liberal

Stéphane Dion Saint-Laurent—Cartierville, QC

Mr. Speaker, I fail to understand why the minister does not see this as a gross abuse of omnibus bills. When the Prime Minister was a member of the opposition in 1994 and faced a budget of 21 pages, he asked the government to split it in order for members to be able to focus on its different aspects. At that time, Canada was in a terrible economic situation.

The government now uses the economy as an excuse for deciding that the age of receipt of old age security will change from 65 to 67 in coming years, even though there is no hurry to do that, without having appropriate debate in the House. It also uses the economy to get rid of a lot of environmental protections that Canadians have.

What is the link between the difficulties in the economy and the arbitrary cancellation of thousands of immigration applications? What is the link between the economy and the government ending the requirement of the Auditor General to audit the financial statements of a series of agencies, including the Canadian Food Inspection Agency? What is the link between all of these things and the difficulties of the economy?

The Conservatives are abusing this argument to be able to say afterwards that the opposition voted against all of the things they proposed.

Opposition Motion—Omnibus Legislation
Business of Supply
Government Orders

12:45 p.m.

Conservative

Ted Menzies Macleod, AB

Mr. Speaker, the one relevant comment made is that the Liberals did vote against all of those things that were actually beneficial.

We passed a budget that required us to open up many pieces of legislation because it was a comprehensive budget. We all knew that when we were debating it.

It has been suggested that there was not ample time to discuss it. The opposition seemed to be so focused on process, as it was during the budget debates, that it actually forgot to debate what was in the budget.

There were 214 speakers. That is fairly comprehensive list of speakers to discuss a budget. The people I heard who were actually talking about the substance of the budget, what it was going to accomplish and how it was going to help the economy, were on this side of the House.