The House of Commons was to begin voting Wednesday night on several hundred amendments to Bill C-38, the 425-page monster known as the omnibus budget implementation bill. The voting was expected to go on all night and all day Thursday.
Viewed one way, the whole thing is quite silly. Given the government’s majority, none of the amendments is likely to pass, nor is the bill itself in any danger of defeat. Viewed another way, however, this is an important moment. For the first time since the last election, the opposition is putting up a serious fight against the abuses this government has visited upon Parliament: not only the omnibus bill – which repeals, amends or introduces more than 60 pieces of legislation – but the repeated, almost routine curtailing of debate by means of time allocation; the failures of oversight, misstating of costs, and abdication of responsibility in the F-35 purchase; and the refusal to provide basic information on spending to Parliament or the Parliamentary Budget Officer – to say nothing of the stonewalling, prorogations and other indignities of the minority years.
It should be noted it is not only the opposition’s interests that are being defended here. It is Parliament’s. Were MPs on the government side more mindful of their responsibilities, they would be as vigilant in its defence as the opposition.