The Conservatives' crowded legislative agenda

It’s crowded onto the budget implementation bill, which the Liberals have already promised to vote for. Turns out a lot of stuff has sneaked into the bill, whose relation to fiscal stimulus can be hard to discern. So the budget bill becomes an omnibus bill that seeks to make a bunch of changes that cannot therefore, individually, be discussed or debated or potentially defeated one by one. This is not unique or unprecedented; as justice minister, Anne McLellan thought it was brilliant to cough up an omnibus bill every year or so, with a jillion incompatible changes to things, instead of seeking Parliament’s piecemeal approval for each of them. But look at what Le Devoir columnist Manon Cornellier has dug up.

• Competition law. “The last profound reform of this law was more than 20 years ago and resulted from years of consultation,” Manon writes. “The government’s current project is nearly as substantial. The amendments cover 31 pages and are highly complex. The fact that they will be adopted without real study frustrates those who have been suggesting changes for years, like the Liberal MP Dan McTeague.”

• Wage equity in the public service. Twenty-eight pages of amendments, which change the threshold at which employees will be able to seek an evaluation of the pay levels for their group.

• Foreign investment: a new, high and rising threshold for investment review, with government given a veto over acquisitions in cases of “national security.”

• Relaxing or eliminating the requirement for environmental-impact review before proceeding with certain infrastructure projects.

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