'This now infamous budget mega bill has caused outrage from one end of the country to the other'

The transcript of Marc Garneau’s speech this afternoon in response to Elizabeth May’s point of order.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take this opportunity, if I may, to respond to the point of order that was raised earlier this week by the member for Saanich—Gulf Islands concerning Bill C-38. Simply stated, I wish to reiterate that we in the Liberal Party also have deep concerns about this piece of legislation, that the government’s argument for putting it forward in its current form is that it is all essential in order to help us stimulate our fragile economy is completely disingenuous and frankly very misleading.

For example, the government’s plan to change the age for receiving old age security from 65 to 67, beginning in 2023 is hardly a critical budget decision that must be taken at this time and within this bill. I dare say most of us will not even be here 11 years from now. Un autre exemple concerne tous les changements qui affectent les lois touchant l’environnement et les pêcheries. Comment peut-on prétendre que ces changements doivent être adoptés immédiatement, afin de protéger notre économie fragile? Ces lois auront des impacts profonds et doivent être débattues dans leurs propres projets de loi.

What has happened with Bill C-38 is quite astounding. This now infamous budget mega bill has caused outrage from one end of the country to the other and the remarks of the hon. member for Saanich—Gulf Islands certainly mirror the concerns expressed by Canadians. Simply put, there is no common thread uniting all the elements of this massive bill. What is more, many of the elements are not even of a budgetary nature, even by the wildest stretch of the imagination. As such, Bill C-38 is not a legitimate omnibus bill.

Nous savons que les projets de loi budgétaires peuvent s’avérer volumineux, mais force est de constater que ce gouvernement a redéfini le terme « omnibus » en l’amenant à un niveau sans précédent. Le leader du gouvernement à la Chambre a beau affirmer que ce projet de loi comporte un fil conducteur, celui du budget, mais qu’on me permette d’être en désaccord. On ne peut se servir du budget comme bouclier permettant de tout introduire, incluant l’évier de la cuisine.

For example, if we look at clause 52 of the bill we will see that it enacts an entirely new piece of legislation called the Canadian environmental assessment act 2012, within a single clause of a 753 clause bill. This clause only received a maximum of 15 minutes consideration at committee. The rules and practices surrounding omnibus bills are in place for a reason. How can members of Parliament adequately study such a bill when its content is so wide ranging and disjointed. Dare I say it, perhaps that is what the members on the other side were counting on.

I must underline in the strongest possible terms the fact that legislation such as this makes it almost impossible to scrutinize properly. A budget bill dealing with financial measures and taxation is one thing. The hodge podge of clauses impacting more than 60 pieces of federal legislation before us is a completely different proposition.

En conclusion, je souhaite ardament que ce gouvernement scinde ce projet de loi en plusieurs pièces, car en fin de compte, les Canadiens et Canadiennes veulent que plusieurs éléments du projet de loi C-38 soient traitées séparément. J’ai confiance que vous saurez vous prononcer en conséquence, monsieur le Président, et je vous en remercie.