How to make passing a bill as difficult as possible

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.

Let’s do that math: If Ms. May were to propose, say, 200 amendments, at 15 minutes each, that would mean 50 hours of voting.

As noted yesterday, the New Democrats are promising to propose amendments while the bill is with the finance committee. And, as noted previously, the Liberals have suggested they could move separate motions to delete individual clauses of the bill. (Note: The budget contains more than 700 clauses.)

Beyond Parliament, a coalition of environmental organizations is planning on an online protest—similar to the SOPA protest—for June 4.