A bad precedent

Conservative MP Larry Miller suggests opposition complaints about the size of this year’s omnibus budget bills are not to be taken seriously because he “never heard a peep out of them” when the budget bill in 2010 was 900 pages.

It is possible that Mr. Miller didn’t hear anything, but it would not be accurate to thus presume that the omnibus nature of C-9 passed without a peep. Here, for instance, is a rudimentary search of Hansard that shows the omnibus nature of the bill was at least noted. There were two attempts to split that bill—one in the House, one in the Senate—but the Liberals were loath to initiate an election. Ultimately, the bill passed the Senate intact.

That said, Mr. Miller has something of a point: the consternation expressed about C-38 this spring (and again this fall with C-45) seemed orders of magnitude larger than the reaction that met previous bills. That probably has something to do with the fact that a majority government situation makes it easier to oppose. And had there been more attention paid to previous budget bills, the fight against omnibus legislation now might be easier. (If, for instance, you imagine that continued fights over omnibus legislation will ultimately force some kind of compromise, it’s possible that a greater fight two years ago might mean compromise that much sooner. That is, if you believe that this year’s fights over C-38 and C-45 have had, or will have, some impact.)

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