This is the week that wasn’t

Never mind Mike Duffy, here’s what happened last week
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty and Prime Minister Stephen Harper enter the House of Commons to table the budget on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Thursday March 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Patrick Doyle

Never mind Mike Duffy. At least just for a moment.

Because here is what happened last week.

On Tuesday, the Harper government tabled its second budget implementation bill of the year. At 321 pages, it is more than twice the length of the first budget bill. It would change the process for settling public sector labour disputes and amend labour laws concerning workplace safety, but Tony Clement says he can’t explain how the changes will impact collective bargaining until the bill is passed. A bill apparently meant to promote economic growth also amends the Supreme Court of Canada Act in an attempt to clean up the controversy around the government’s latest appointment to the court, a matter the government has now also referred to the Supreme Court to settle. In totality, C-4 is a poke in the eye, a thumbing of the nose and a flipping of the bird to all those who have lamented previous budget bills as subversions of the parliamentary system.

Meanwhile, the Conservatives are pursuing a parliamentary change that would make it more difficult for independent MPs to move amendments in the House—thus making it less likely that future omnibus bills will face the sort of vote marathons that made public spectacles of C-38 and C-45 in 2012.

What else?

On Monday, Denis Lebel, the Prime Minister’s senior Quebec minister, deviated from the government’s position on the necessary grounds to begin negotiating the secession of Quebec.

On Thursday morning, the Quebec Court of Appeal ruled that establishing Senate elections would require the consent of at least seven provinces representing 50% of the population, undermining the entire premise of the Harper government’s approach to Senate reform these last seven years.

On Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada released updated projections that show the country well short of meeting its international commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

That same day, Justin Trudeau went to Washington, DC and tried to split the difference between the New Democrats and Conservatives on Keystone XL.

And on Friday, the Harper government announced it would no longer require that in-situ oil sands development be subject to federal environmental assessments, thus implementing a provision of a previous omnibus budget bill.

And so it is not just that a sitting senator is alleging that, under threat of expulsion from the upper chamber, he went along with a secret arrangement managed out of the Prime Minister’s Office to repay the housing allowance he was accused of improperly claiming.  And it is not merely that the future of the Harper government now hangs in the balance. It is also the life and future welfare of our parliamentary democracy and the future state of the planet. It is also everything else. Everything is happening.