How to have an easier time passing an omnibus budget bill

The government might have maneuvered out of another voting marathon

The Hill Times explains the procedural maneuvering by the Conservatives at the finance committee that will ease the passage of Bill C-60, the year’s first budget implementation act.

At its meeting on May 7, the House Finance Committee passed a motion allowing Bill C-60 to be split up for study at five other committees with any recommendations to be sent to the Finance Committee by May 27, at 9 a.m. In addition, the motion called on the committee chair to write letters to MPs who are not part of a recognized party in the House and invite them to propose amendments to the bill by the same deadline. Any amendments received by the committee would then be “deemed to be proposed” during clause-by-clause study of the bill.

The motion, which Conservative MP Shelly Glover (Saint Boniface, Man.) moved, also gave a deadline of May 28 for the committee to move to clause-by-clause and stated that if it was not completed by 11:59 p.m., all questions to dispose of the clause-by-clause review of the 128-page omnibus bill would be called without further debate on any remaining clauses or amendments in order to report the bill back as early as possible. The motion passed with Conservative committee members voting in favour and all opposition members voting against.

The move was made to allow MPs such as Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) and Bloc Québécois members, who are technically considered “independent” MPs and cannot sit on committees, to participate in the committee hearings. Because they are not normally members of any committee, the only opportunity for them to bring forward amendments to bills is at report stage. Normally, report stage amendments are only deemed in order if they were previously not able to be introduced at committee. Ms. May and Bloc MPs have been using this rule to debate the bills and bring forward substantive amendments to legislation because they are unable to introduce amendments at committee.

Elizabeth May, Andre Bellavance, Nathan Cullen and Kevin Lamoureux objected, but the Speaker found on Friday that the finance committee had not acted inappropriately. That would seem to make it unlikely that C-60 will be subject to the sort of marathon voting that came with C-38 and C-45 last year.