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Tuesday, October 30, 2012


The Bill That Ate Ottawa

It’s funny how opposition members have an epiphany when an election transforms them into the governing party!  Back in 1994, Stephen Harper expressed very legitimate concerns about Jean Chretien’s gigantic (21-page) omnibus bill.  Among other things, he criticized it for being undemocratic because MPs could not give it the attention necessary. With a second Conservative omnibus bill (almost 450 pages long, which is more than 20 times as large as the Chretien bill) now before the House, we need to ask whether and how the Prime Minister has magically solved the problems he identified almost two decades ago.

Bill C-45 (the monstrous Harper omnibus bill) touches on so many areas that it is astounding that it will not receive the scrutiny it deserves.  From Fisheries and Navigable Waters to the Indian Act and Employment Insurance, the scope of this bill is breathtaking.

It is also an insult to the parliamentary process since the officials we have elected to represent our interests are impotent.  That’s impotent, not important, which they also are. What to do?

One simple strategy might bring the government to its senses:  since our elected officials cannot do their job, perhaps citizens should offer to help.  We should conduct the scrutiny that MPs cannot undertake.  We should demand that hard copies of this monstrous bill be sent to libraries across this country so citizens can examine it.  Reading a document that is 443 pages online is tedious and downloading and printing it off would paralyze most household printers.  However, we do have a right to acquaint ourselves with measures that are going to transform the way the federal government does its job. 

So take action! Contact the Prime Minister, the Finance Minister, your MP, or your Senator and ask for a copy of the printed bill to be sent to your local library. Be sure to .cc the media – the wider the awareness of this monstrous bill, the better.

The other slap in the face is the investment agreement Ottawa is set to sign with China. But that’s a topic for another day.

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