Green party leader Elizabeth May issued a point of order in the House of Commons Monday afternoon arguing the contentious omnibus budget bill should be withdrawn.
Her 16-page argument asks Speaker Andrew Scheer to decide whether Bill C-38 was introduced to parliamentarians in an "imperfect shape," or, in other words, that is not a legitimate omnibus bill as determined by legislative rules.
Using former Speaker rulings, statements from academics and media reports, May's point of order outlines the definition of a "proper" omnibus bill.
As suggested last week, Elizabeth May, the Liberals and the Bloc MPs are apparently preparing to move approximately 200 amendments to the budget bill when it returns to the House—creating a series of votes that should take 50 to 60 hours to complete.
“There’s nothing I won’t do to stop it,” she told The Hill Times …“If you respect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, you approach bills according to a theme that is coherent and has integrity; one idea at a time. Even an omnibus bill is, under our rules, one theme, one principle, one policy area at a time. This is not appropriate. This is an abuse of power,” she said. “And what tools does a responsible opposition have to protect the country? I’ll use every tool that’s legal and within the Parliamentary toolkit. I have to use every tool we have and the Liberals are of the same mind.”
Nathan Cullen said last week that the NDP will have its own changes to propose at third reading, likely adding to the votes. The hope, according to Ms. May, is to convince the government side to split the bill.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May said she will make every attempt to thwart the sweeping overhaul of Canadian law laid out in the omnibus budget bill in the coming week.
"This is a fight to ensure Canadians live in a democracy," she told a packed conference hall at the Federation of Canadian Municipalities conference in Saskatoon.
May and the Liberals plan on a test of parliamentary endurance to delay the passage of the 425-page Bill C-38, which would overhaul environmental protection and fisheries laws, streamline reviews for major natural resource projects, make it more difficult for Canadians receiving EI to refuse work and earmark funds for the Canada Revenue Agency to scrutinize the political activities of charities, among dozens of other changes.
Calling the federal government's massive omnibus Budget Implementation Bill "an abuse of power," the Liberals and Green Party have joined forces and plan to table more than 200 amendments when the bill is returned from the Finance Committee to the Commons Chamber floor at report stage, possibly as early as this week, setting off between 50 to 60 consecutive hours of roll call House voting in which MPs must stay in their seats around the clock or risk losing votes.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (Saanich-Gulf Islands, B.C.) will be moving the majority of those amendments relating to environmental provisions found in Bill C-38, the Budget Implementation Bill. As she is the only Green MP in the House and her party is not recognized as an official party, Ms. May cannot sit on committees, but is allowed to introduce substantive amendments when bills return to the House at report stage.
Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau (Westmount-Ville Marie, Que.) told The Hill Times last week that it takes approximately one hour to move four roll call votes through the House.
Elizabeth May explains what the support of the Liberals means for her efforts to amend the budget.
Because the Greens do not have official party status in the House of Commons, Ms. May is not given a seat on parliamentary committees. As a tradeoff, she is permitted to propose an unlimited number of amendments to bills that have come back to the House from committees. All she needs is the support of five other MPs. And the Liberals have agreed to do that in the case of the budget bill.
“The aim is to create such a substantial logjam that the government will have to negotiate removing the environmental and other non-budgetary matters from Bill C-38,” Ms. May said Monday. Each vote on an amendment takes 15 minutes, there could be hundreds of amendments, so “you do the math,” she said.
The Liberals will join forces with Green Party Leader Elizabeth May to introduce amendments that could delay the passage of the Conservative government’s omnibus budget bill and another piece of legislation that would change Canada’s refugee system.
“We very clearly indicated that we are the real opposition here because we found that the best way to deal with this is to work with other parties, in this particular case with the Green Party,” Liberal House Leader Marc Garneau told reporters Monday morning after the House of Commons returned from a week-long break.
Because the Greens do not have official party status, Ms. May is not given a seat on parliamentary committees. As a trade-off, she is permitted to propose substantive amendments to bills that have come back to the House after the committees have completed their study – an option that is not open to MPs who are part of a recognized party.
Elizabeth May is reviving an old conflict-of-interest complaint against former Conservative MP Rahim Jaffer, calling for an investigation into whether business meetings he arranged with several Conservative government representatives – as with Industry Minister Christian Paradis – violated the ethics code.
May submitted a detailed and direct letter to Ethics Commissioner Mary Dawson on Monday, naming MPs and staffers David Pierce, Doug Maley, Brian Jean, Sébastian Togneri and Helena Guergis as people who provided special treatment to Jaffer because of his former MP status. In it, she reminds Dawson that this issue was brought to her attention by Democracy Watch in May 2010, but was not ruled on.
Unlike Democracy Watch, May is owed a written response because she is a Member of Parliament. The Green Party leader asked for a prompt response this time around because what Democracy Watch found raises “serious questions.”