House of Commons Hansard #138 of the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament's site.) The word of the day was budget.

Topics

Bill C-38—Speaker's Ruling
Points of Order
Private Members' Business

June 11th, 2012 / 12:05 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

I am now prepared to rule on the point of order raised on June 5, by the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands regarding the form of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures.

I thank the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands for having raised the matter, as well as the hon. Leader of the Government in the House of Commons, the hon. House Leader of the Official Opposition, the hon. House Leader of the Liberal Party, and the hon. members for Winnipeg Centre, Winnipeg North and Thunder Bay—Superior North for their comments.

The foundation of the arguments brought forward by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands is that Bill C-38 has not been brought forward in a proper form and is, therefore, imperfect and must be set aside. Specifically, the member relies on Standing Order 68(3) which states that, “no bill may be introduced either in blank or in an imperfect shape”.

In laying out her case, she argues that in its current form the bill fails the test of being “a proper omnibus bill”; first, because it lacks one central theme, that is “one basic principle or purpose”; second, because it fails to provide a link between certain items in the bill and the budget itself; and third, because it “omits actions, regulatory and legislative changes” that are purported to be included in it by representatives of the government.

In response, the government House leader indicated that Bill C-38, as a budget implementation bill, had as its unifying theme the implementation of the budget. This, he reminded the House, arose from the adoption of the budget by the House. To use his words, “The budget sets the clear policy direction and the budget implementation bill implements that direction” and is “a comprehensive suite of measures designed to ensure jobs, economic growth and long-term prosperity”.

Before I address the arguments put forward in this case, it is perhaps useful to remind members of what the provisions of Standing Order 68(3)—the basis of the point of order raised by the Member for Saanich—Gulf Islands—refer to. House of Commons Procedure and Practice, Second Edition, at page 728, states:

Since Confederation, the Chair has held that the introduction of bills that contain blank passages or that are in an imperfect shape is clearly contrary to the Standing Orders. A bill in blank or in imperfect shape is a bill which has only a title, or the drafting of which has not been completed. Although this provision exists mainly in contemplation of errors identified when a bill is introduced, Members have brought such defects or anomalies to the attention of the Chair at various stages in the legislative process. In the past, the Speaker has directed that the order for second reading of certain bills be discharged, when it was discovered that they were not in their final form and were therefore not ready to be introduced.

Furthermore, at pages 730 to 734, members can find a description of the various elements that comprise a bill. A bill must have a number, a title, an enacting clause, and clauses. It may also have a preamble, interpretation and coming-into-force provisions, and schedules.

Having reviewed Bill C-38, I can assure the House that it contains all of the required elements and is therefore in proper form in these respects. In addition, the requisite notice was given for its introduction and the bill was preceded by a ways and means motion, as is required. It is also duly accompanied by a royal recommendation.

Now the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands has taken the argument of imperfect shape one step further in stating that Bill C-38 is not in the proper form and that it is not, in her words, “a proper omnibus bill”.

Here again it is perhaps useful to return to House of Commons, Procedure and Practice, second edition which states, at page 724, in reference to omnibus bills, “Although this expression is commonly used, there is no precise definition of an omnibus bill”.

It then goes on to state that:

In general, an omnibus bill seeks to amend, repeal or enact several acts, and is characterized by the fact that it is made up of a number of related but separate initiatives. An omnibus bill has “one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes.” One of the reasons cited for introducing an omnibus bill is to bring together in a single bill all the legislative amendments arising from a single policy decision in order to facilitate parliamentary debate.

At page 725, O'Brien and Bosc goes on to state:

It appears to be entirely proper, in procedural terms, for a bill to amend, repeal or enact more than one Act, provided that the requisite notice is given, that it is accompanied by a royal recommendation (where necessary), and that it follows the form required.

Naturally, there have been a number of rulings on the subject. Among these is a ruling given by Speaker Sauvé on June 20, 1983, which can be found at pages 26537 and 26538 of Debates, where she stated that:

—although some occupants in the Chair have expressed concern about the practice of incorporating several distinct principles in a single bill, they have consistently found that such bills are procedurally in order and properly before the House.

On April 11, 1994, Speaker Parent faced similar objections to another budget bill—C-17—when a member argued that the House was being asked to take a single decision on a number of unrelated items. As can be found at pages 2859 to 2861 of the Debates, the Speaker disagreed, noting that in the Chair’s opinion:

—a common thread does run through Bill C-17; namely, the government's intention to enact the provisions in the recent budget, including measures to extend the fiscal restraint measures currently in place.

The second argument raised by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands, which is irrevocably linked to her first argument regarding the need for a central theme, was that there were elements found in Bill C-38 that were not provided for in the budget. It would be useful, at this juncture, to remind members that the long title of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures, is very broad, as is typical in bills of this kind. Clause 1 of the bill, which contains its short title, provides that “This act may be cited as the Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act” and thus restates the very broad scope of the measure. O'Brien and Bosc, at page 731, notes that the long title sets out the purpose of the bill, in general terms, and must accurately reflects its content.

Speaker Fraser, on June 8, 1988, at page 16257 of the Debates, also referred to the use in our practice of generic language in bill titles and stated that, “every act being amended need not be mentioned in the title”.

If the long title had been specific and limited in scope, then the hon. member might have had a sounder basis for claiming that the bill went beyond what was contained in the budget. However, the title of Bill C-38 is wide in scope, and therefore, it is an accepted practice that the content of the bill could be similarly broad.

The third point raised by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands relates to her contention that representatives of the government, during debate at second reading of Bill C-38, claimed that the bill gave legislative effect to policy decisions that are not in fact contained in the bill.

What the member is raising here is perhaps a question of relevance in debate or a dispute as to facts. As Speaker Milliken stated at page 5411 of the Debates on October 27, 2010:

It is not the Speaker's role to determine who is right and who is wrong. I know there are disagreements over some things that are said in this House, but it is not up to the Speaker to decide either way.

It may well be that members, in their remarks, spoke about elements of the government's fiscal or regulatory policy intentions that were not contained in the bill, or that may flow from the bill if it is passed. These are matters that are beyond the purview of the Speaker. Given the generous latitude for relevance which is typically accorded to members on such wide-ranging debates, including that on the budget, it is in keeping with parliamentary practice that issues raised in debate would not exactly mirror the contents of legislation in every respect. As such, while these concerns are certainly pertinent to the wider debate surrounding the bill, they do not, in and of themselves, point to a technical deficiency in the bill itself.

As the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands noted, my predecessors have frequently been called upon to rule on matters pertaining to omnibus bills. In this regard, her argument that, “… there is a compelling case that the House must act to set limits around omnibus legislation” is one that has been made before. On these occasions, the key question faced by Speakers has been: What is the role of the Chair in dealing with such matters?

As Speaker Sauve said on March 2, 1982 at page 15532 of the Debates:

It may be that the House should accept rules or guidelines as to the form and content of omnibus bills, but in that case the House, and not the Speaker, must make those rules.

Speaker Fraser, in the June 8, 1988 ruling referred to by the member, advanced his own view of the role of the Chair in dealing with omnibus bills, by stating, at page 16257 of Debates:

Until the House adopts specific rules relating to omnibus bills, the Chair's role is very limited and the Speaker should remain on the sidelines as debate proceeds and the House resolves the issue.

Indeed, the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands herself also recognized the limited role of the Speaker in such circumstances, stating:

It is clear that the Speaker is not, at present and in absence of rules from the House to limit the length and complexities of omnibus bills, entitled to rule that an omnibus bill is too long, too complex or too broad in scope.

It may well be time for members to consider our practices for dealing with omnibus bills. However, in the absence of any clear rules, I find myself agreeing with Speaker Fraser, that the most appropriate role for the chair is to step aside and allow the House to determine the matter.

When addressing similar matters in relation to omnibus bills, Speaker Jerome on May 11, 1977, at page 5523 of Debates, and Speaker Parent on April 11, 1994, at page 2861 of Debates, both suggested that members could propose amendments at report stage to delete clauses they felt should not be part of a bill, or vote against it. We all know that this has certainly been done with respect to Bill C-38.

In the same ruling by Speaker Parent, again at page 2861 of Debates, he stated:

—it is procedurally correct and common practice for a bill to amend, repeal, or enact several statutes. There are numerous rulings in which Speakers have declined to intervene simply because a bill was complex and permitted omnibus legislation to proceed.

Perhaps the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs, which is engaged in a review of the Standing Orders, could examine this thorny issue as part of its study, but until such time as the House feels compelled to set new limits on omnibus legislation, as your Speaker, I must continue to be guided by current rules and practice.

Having reviewed the submissions made by hon. members and the relevant precedents, including the many rulings just cited, the Chair cannot agree with the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands to conclude that Bill C-38 is not in the proper form and therefore should not be allowed to proceed.

In the absence of rules or guidelines regarding omnibus legislation, the Chair cannot justify setting aside Bill C-38 and accordingly must rule that Bill C-38, in its current form, is in order.

I thank hon. members for their attention.

The House proceeded to the consideration of Bill C-38, An Act to implement certain provisions of the budget tabled in Parliament on March 29, 2012 and other measures as reported (without amendment) from the committee.

Speaker's Ruling
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:15 p.m.

Conservative

The Speaker Andrew Scheer

As members are aware, the chair does not ordinarily provide an explanation on the basis for the report stage ruling. In cases where there are a large number of amendments or where the relations among them are complex, it has been found helpful to provide some description of the underlying organization of the ruling. I believe that the case before us today is one in which the House may benefit from some comments in this regard.

I remind the House that my comments are limited to addressing procedural issues relating to report stage and to my responsibility as Speaker to ensure that the relevant provisions contained in the Standing Orders are complied with.

On February 27, 2001, the House adopted a motion to add an additional paragraph to the “note” to Standing Order 76(5) and 76.1(5). That additional final paragraph added to the note reads as follows:

For greater clarity, the Speaker will not select for debate a motion or series of motions of a repetitive, frivolous or vexatious nature or of a nature that would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage and, in exercising this power of selection, the Speaker shall be guided by the practice followed in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom.

As mentioned in the House of Commons Procedure and Practice, at page 778, “This occurred in response to the flooding of the Notice Paper with hundreds of amendments”.

Following the adoption of this new note in the Standing Orders, Speaker Milliken made a statement, Debates, March 21, 2001, pages 1991 to 1993, regarding how the Chair would interpret this note which has formed the basis of our current practice with regards to the selection of motions at report stage. If I may add, this process appears to have effectively served the House since that time.

Given the infrequency with which similar cases to those that led to the introduction of the note have arisen in the past decade, the Speaker has little in the way of precedent to guide him in arranging the report stage motions in a manner which will adequately reflect the various competing interests in the House.

In reviewing the motions placed before the House, there are essentially two types of motions the Chair has received. First, hundreds of motions to delete individual clauses in the bill have been placed on notice as well as a second group of amendments which seek to amend the text of a clause.

The recent precedents in relation to both types of motions are clear. For example, motions to delete clauses have always been found to be in order and it must also be noted have been selected at report stage. These motions are allowed at report stage because members may wish to express views on a clause without seeking to amend it. As is the case on such occasions, I have tried to minimize the amount of time spent in the House on this kind of motion by grouping them as tightly as possible and by applying the vote on one to as many others as possible.

The second group of motions, which seek to amend the text of individual clauses, have been submitted by members who had no opportunity to present amendments at committee stage and, consistent with the current practice, their motions have also been selected, except in the case where similar motions had already been considered by the committee and where all other procedural requirements have been met. The grouping of these motions follows the divisions of the bill. Motions have been grouped by the members submitting them for each clause of the bill. The vote on the first motion will be applied to the member's other motions in that class.

Although 871 motions have been placed on the notice paper, it is clearly not intended, nor do our rules and practices lend themselves to the taking of 871 consecutive votes. With respect to the voting table, substantive amendments have been grouped so as to allow for a clear expression of opinion on each of the subject areas contained in the bill. Motions to delete have been dealt with in conformity with the grouping scheme outlined above.

As your Speaker, I am fully aware of the extraordinary nature of the current situation. In reviewing the March 2001 statement by then Speaker Milliken, I was struck by the following, which I feel might have some resonance today:

As your Speaker, I am ready to shoulder the report stage responsibilities that the House has spelled out for me. However, I think it would be naive to hope that the frustrations implicit in the putting on notice of hundreds of motions in amendment of a bill will somehow be answered by bringing greater rigour to the Speaker's process of selection.

Since the decision of the House on February 27, 2001 to add the final paragraph to the note in the Standing Orders regarding report stage, there are few precedents to guide the Speaker in dealing with this type of situation. In my selection of motions, in their grouping and in the organization of the votes, I have made every effort to respect both the wishes of the House and my responsibility to organize the consideration of report stage motions in a fair and balanced manner. To the extent that some may have differing views concerning the decisions taken, it may be that the House or perhaps the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs will wish to revisit the adequacy of our rules and practices in dealing with cases of this extraordinary nature.

There are 871 motions in amendment standing on the notice paper for the report stage of C-38.

The Chair will not select Motions Nos. 570, 571, 576, 626 to 628, 630, 842 and 843, since they require a royal recommendation. The Chair will not select Motions Nos. 411 and 412, because they were defeated in committee.

Motions Nos. 27, 29, 39, 55 to 61, 71, 73, 75, 83, 85 and 545 will not be selected by the Chair as they would introduce inconsistencies.

All remaining motions have been examined and the Chair is satisfied that they meet the guidelines expressed in the note to Standing Order 76.1(5) regarding the selection of motions in amendment at the report stage.

The motions will be grouped for debate as follows:

Group No. 1, Motions Nos. 1 to 15.

Group No. 2, Motions Nos. 16 to 23.

Group No. 3, Motions Nos. 24 to 26, 28, 30 to 38, 40 to 54, 62 to 70, 72, 74, 76 to 82, 84, 86 to 367.

Group No. 4, Motions Nos. 368 to 410, 413 to 544, 546 to 569, 572 to 575, 577 to 625, 629, 631 to 841 and 844 to 871.

The voting patterns for the motions within each group are available at the table. The Chair will remind the House of each pattern at the time of voting.

I shall now propose Motions Nos. 1 to 15 in Group No. 1 to the House.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

moved:

Motion No. 1

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 1.

Motion No. 2

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 2.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

moved:

Motion No. 3

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 4.

Motion No. 4

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 6.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

moved

Motion No. 5

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 7.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Green

Elizabeth May Saanich—Gulf Islands, BC

seconded by Ms. Duncan, Etobicoke North, moved:

Motion No. 6

That Bill C-38, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing lines 1 to 5 on page 7 with the following:

““political activity” means the making of a gift by a donor to a qualified donee for the purpose of allowing the donor to maintain a level of funding of political activities that is less than 10% of its income for a taxation year by delegating the carrying out of political activities to the qualified donee;”

Motion No. 7

That Bill C-38, in Clause 7, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 8 with the following:

“interest, being any activity that contributes to the social or cultural lives of Canadians or that contributes to Canada's economic or ecological well-being.”

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:20 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

moved:

Motion No. 8

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 8.

Motion No. 9

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 9.

Motion No. 10

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 10.

Motion No. 11

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 11.

Motion No. 12

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 13.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Bloc

Louis Plamondon Bas-Richelieu—Nicolet—Bécancour, QC

moved:

Motion No. 13

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 16.

Motion No. 14

That Bill C-38, in Clause 16, be amended by replacing line 5 on page 14 with the following:

“on January 1, 2013 a salary of $137,000.”

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

NDP

Peggy Nash Parkdale—High Park, ON

moved:

Motion No. 15

That Bill C-38 be amended by deleting Clause 17.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:25 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, we are now at the report stage. I am very sad to say that the Government of Canada has been totally deaf to our entreaties to reconsider its outrageously anti-democratic approach to the budget implementation bill, an approach which will have profound implications for our country. Simply stated, the Conservative government has said to Canadians, “This is how we do things and that is the way it is going to be”. It brings to mind the schoolyard bully who never felt the need to explain his actions but just went ahead and did what he wanted to do.

However, I have news for the government. Canadians do not like it and they are waking up to the way the government is doing things. Who would have thought that Canadians would be familiar with procedures such as prorogation or time allocation during debates or the use of in camera in committees? Slowly but surely, Canadians are beginning to understand these procedures and beginning to question what the government meant when it promised, six and a half years ago, to be open, transparent and, most of all, accountable. I believe Canadians are beginning to feel that there is a contradiction between what has been promised and what is actually being done by the government.

It has come to this. All the opposition parties have been asking the government from the start to split the enormous, 425-page Bill C-38. That way, the changes that are not directly or even indirectly related to the budget but that will have significant consequences on our country could be addressed separately.

I am talking about the changes that affect the way we assess the environmental risks associated with developing our natural resources. I am talking about changes to the Fisheries Act, which will put endangered species at greater risk of extinction. I am also talking about changes to the criteria for old age security, or the OAS eligibility age, which will go from 65 to 67 as of 2023.

In our analysis, we found that this change is not necessary and that the Canadian economy has the means to allow Canadians to receive old age security at 65. In any event, is this change proposed by the government so urgent for the economy that we need to include it in this budget bill? Why does this change not merit its own bill?

The same can be said about the unprecedented changes to employment insurance, which could result in significant changes in the regions, especially those where seasonal employment is the norm. These are unprecedented changes and the federal government has not even taken the time to consult the provinces, which could be hard hit by a decline in population or an increase in requests for social assistance.

In all, more than 60 pieces of legislation would be modified, created or deleted by Bill C-38. The government's only argument for charging ahead is that the economy is fragile and it cannot wait. This is, of course, preposterous since many of the changes in the bill are not remotely time critical or, in many cases, even related to what we would expect in a budget implementation plan. Old age security changes would be 11 years away. Why do the Conservatives think they can behave this way? And will somebody in the government explain to me why Canada's economic stability is critically dependent on changes to the Fisheries Act being implemented immediately?

We live in a democracy. In democracies, even those with majority governments, there is a proper way to enact legislation and it is not by cramming a very large number of pieces of legislation into a single bill.

I would like to repeat an important point. Not only should Bill C-38 be split into several bills dealing with the environment, fisheries, employment insurance and old age security, among other things, but a government committed to working with the provinces would have consulted them before going ahead with Bill C-38, a bill that will definitely affect the provinces.

Unfortunately, this government ignores everyone and consults no one. This was the case recently with the premiers of the Atlantic provinces on the issue of employment insurance and with the National Assembly last Friday, which once again voted unanimously on changes to employment insurance.

We in the Liberal Party knew from the beginning that the government would not suddenly become reasonable. It is simply not its style. We knew that its members would charge blindly ahead with no intention to listen to reason or to compromise and damn the torpedoes. For that reason we decided that in addition to speaking out loudly and clearly about the government's abuse of democracy, we needed also to maximize the effectiveness of our procedural tactics. If I may say, here the Liberals have quite a bit of experience. We did try to propose substantive amendments to Bill C-38 in committee, but they were rejected. The government simply refused to listen. The result is that we introduced 503 report stage amendments to delete clauses that we felt were unacceptable to this bill.

In addition to this, we worked closely with the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands and told her we would support any substantive amendments that she proposed and with which we agreed.

I recognize that the Conservative government has the majority of seats in the House of Commons. I respect that reality. Ultimately, that allows it to do what it wishes. However, that does not mean that ignoring the arguments raised by opposition parties is the smart way to behave, given that opposition parties sometimes propose sensible amendments to government bills. In fact, one might argue that a smart majority government will occasionally listen to the opposition parties and sometimes put a little water in its wine. That is a smart move. It is viewed not so much as a concession or a surrender, but more as a willingness to work together, something Canadians admire and expect from their politicians. So far, this has not happened, but it is not too late.

If this government is willing to listen and make compromises, we could work together in the interest of Canadians.

My party is prepared to vote right now on the parts of Bill C-38 that are related to the budget, but the clauses in Bill C-38 that have no direct bearing on the budget should be removed. The government should not be trying to hide important changes to Canada's legislation in this bill.

The Prime Minister did not raise the issue of changing the age of old age security in the last election. He did not talk about overhauling the environmental assessment regulations and legislation or the Fisheries Act. He never mentioned important changes that were coming for employment insurance. These require fulsome debate as well as consultation with the provinces.

I close by appealing to the government to listen to reason. At the end of the day, it can get a great majority of what it wants. However, what it needs to remember is that Canadians will judge it by the way it goes about it.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Rodger Cuzner Cape Breton—Canso, NS

Mr. Speaker, I understand that seasonal industries are an incredibly important part of the economy, not just of Atlantic Canada but right across this country from coast to coast. The changes buried within this budget bill would have a significant impact on access to labour for those people who run businesses in seasonal industries, such as forestry, tourism, agriculture, the fishery and construction. We have heard right across this country that the end result would be a depleted pool of skilled labour for those industries.

I am wondering if my colleague could comment on this. There is a total lack of consultation. If there was a bit of consultation, might we be able to avert the negative impact it would have on those seasonal industries?

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, there is no question that the changes to EI being proposed in the budget implementation plan, which were suddenly inserted at the very last minute and for which there was very little detail, which we had to push the government to provide, would have a profound impact on certain parts of this country, particularly for those where employment is seasonal.

At the very least, this extremely complex question, which could result in the depopulation of certain areas and could be a greater burden on the provinces with respect to paying welfare, would have a profound transformational effect and, frankly, simply looks like a policy designed to pull people away from certain regions so that they go to other areas where there is a need for labour. This kind of profound change requires consultation, not only in this House of Commons where we should have had a fulsome debate as a separate bill, but more primarily with the provinces.

We heard the four Atlantic provincial premiers express their concerns. We heard l'Assemblée nationale du Québec last week unanimously vote against these EI changes. That really was a statement more about the fact that they were not being consulted.

Yes, this would have profound ramifications for Canada. The government should have consulted.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:35 p.m.

Kamloops—Thompson—Cariboo
B.C.

Conservative

Cathy McLeod Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue

Mr. Speaker, I have a number of questions for my colleague.

Is the hon. member aware that the last three budget implementation acts in the last three years have been larger? Is he aware that there has been more study on this legislation than on any bill in 20 years? Is he also aware that there is an excellent summary at the very start of this legislation that talks about each change?

I think members can actually look at the changes and if something perks their interest they can look at the details.

Would the member not agree that our government is behaving very responsibly, as compared to the Liberal government of the 1990s? We have committed within this budget to maintain health care transfers to the provinces at record levels and have made a long-term commitment, as opposed to the Liberal cuts, to health care, which impacted the provinces in a significant way.

Motions in Amendment
Jobs, Growth and Long-term Prosperity Act
Government Orders

12:40 p.m.

Liberal

Marc Garneau Westmount—Ville-Marie, QC

Mr. Speaker, if one looks at the length of budget implementation bills, one gets a very misleading picture of the situation. It is the breadth of what it entails. Even if one looks at the length and at the last 22 budget implementation bills, on average, the Conservatives' implementation bills are three times longer. I have done the math and that is the situation.

I want to get back to the breadth of the bill. The breadth of this bill is staggering and cannot remotely be linked to important budgetary changes that need to be done at this time to protect a fragile recovery. The point here is the breadth of the bill. It touches 70 acts of Parliament, either deleting them, modifying them or in some cases creating new ones.

One clause, clause 52, would create an environmental assessment act, 2012, for Canada, and runs for 30 pages. That is what we are concerned about here today, not the length of the document.