Stephen Harper on Omnibus Budgets

In 1994…

Mr. Speaker, I am rising on a point of order to make a procedural argument concerning the omnibus nature of this piece of legislation…Bill C-17, is of an omnibus nature. I put it to you, Mr. Speaker, that you should rule it out of order and it should not be considered by the House in the form in which it has been presented… The subject matter of the bill is so diverse that a single vote on the content would put members in conflict with their own principles… How do we express our views and the views of our constituents when the matters are so diverse? Dividing the bill into several components would allow members to represent views of their constituents on each of the different components in the bill…For all the reasons I have given, I respectfully submit that this bill is of improper omnibus nature… Mr. Speaker. I would also ask the government members, particularly those who have spoken on precisely this question in the previous Parliament with precisely the same concerns, to give serious consideration to this issue of democracy and the functionality of this Parliament now.

Now, the Harper Conservatives are proposing an omnibus bill that far surpasses, in scope, the one Harper opposed in 1994 as a member of the Reform Party (remember them?  Principled group they were!)

What has just happened in the House of Commons over the past couple days is this – the Harper Conservatives have said “We are perfect.  We do not need to amend this massive, complex, multi-pronged legislation at all.  We need no input from the opposition parties.  We do not need input from the 60%+ of Canadians they represent.  There is no way to improve it.  We are perfect.”

As the marathon session draws to a close, there is a mixture of joy and sadness, frustration and resolve:

11:20pm. Thomas Mulcair leads the New Democrats, standing ovation and several “woohs.” The New Democrats continue applauding in unison as the votes are called. Charlie Angus briefly raises a fist in the air. Jamie Nicholls puts his hand on his heart, looks to the ceiling and mouths the word “Jack.” Huge cheer as the last New Democrat is counted.

11:23pm. Now the Liberal’s turn to cheer. Marc Garneau hugs Bob Rae.

11:24pm. Elizabeth May stands to cast the last opposition vote and cries as the opposition MPs stand to salute her.

11:25pm. Conservatives cheer as the final result is counted. New Democrats thump their desks and chant “2015? en francais.

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