Liberals offer truce in budget fight
OTTAWA—The federal Liberals say they are willing to back away from the omnibus budget bill fight if the Conservative government makes some changes to the legislation.
Liberal House leader Marc Garneau wants the government to pull items relating to fisheries, environmental assessment, EI, and old age security and introduce them as separate bills.
“Perhaps at some point they will listen to reason,” Garneau noted.
The Opposition parties proposed more than 1,000 amendments to the bill—a list that’s now been whittled down to 871.
The Speaker of the House of Commons was expected to rule today on how those changes to the bill will be handled in the Commons.
Garneau acknowledged the Conservatives have the votes to defeat all the amendments even if the process requires a marathon voting session.
“Yes, we all know what the outcome is if they don’t fall asleep at the switch,” he remarked.
“But it sends a very, very strong message to Canadians that this government just bulldozes through and is not prepared to do what is very reasonable—break out some of these parts of the budget that really are not part of the budget implementation process.”
The bill is more than 400 pages long and changes more than 70 laws.
It requires far more due diligence than it has received, said Green Party leader Elizabeth May, who has proposed more than 300 amendments of her own.
“It’s not a tactic,” May stressed.
“It’s the natural consequence of the size and scale and scope of the bill that Jim Flaherty put forward, allegedly a budget implementation bill which is, in fact, nothing of the kind,” she charged.
The government says the bill is needed to keep the economy percolating and to create jobs.
The Conservatives so far have rejected suggestions that some parts be carved out and considered separately.
“Hope springs eternal,” Garneau said of the government’s insistence on keeping the bill intact.
“We hope that the government is feeling pressure from Canadians, we hope the government is thinking about the voting process and how that will brand them, the imagery of this whole process, and that will give them pause for thought.”