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Earlier this month, the federal government presented a budget bill that included changes to Canada’s Infrastructure Bank laws and Parliamentary Budget Officer’s power. According to the opposition party, the 300-page bill is an omnibus bill similar to what the Liberals are trying to make illegal in the parliamentary rules.
Candice Bergen, Conservative House Leader said that it was hypocritical of the Liberals wanting to make omnibus bills illegal and then introducing one.
The Liberal’s pledge to make omnibus bills illegal was based on the concern for MPs. They campaigned that when a large package was introduced to make changes, MPs were forced to take a yes or no decision on the entire matter, even if they supported some parts of it.
This has the parliament’s spending watchdog concerned. They believe that with these changes, the government will be able to get away with things, which they are accountable to.
Assistant PBO, Mostafa Askari said that the legislation is proving difficult for PBO’s independence. His main concern is the approval of the PBO report, which will first go through the House of Common’s speakers and the Senate for review and then an advance copy of the report must be given, so that they can reach a decision. Currently, the PBO can release any reports on its website.
The end to omnibus legislations was included in the proposal to change the House of Common’s rule, which had surprised the opposition party. Ms. Bergen accused PM Trudeau of trying to push through the proposal without getting support from other parties. She further said that the PBO should be studied independently.
Alexandre Boulerice, NDP MP agreed that the bill was omnibus and was forcing to vote for or against several changes, which included the Department of Veterans Affairs Act, Parliament of Canada Act, Food and Drugs Act, Canada Infrastructure Bank Act and Judges Act. Mr. Monreau’s spokesperson, Daniel Lauzon said that these changes were already mentioned in 22nd March budget and therefore, must not be considered as a surprise.