In a move that has become standard legislative operating procedure in the nation's capital, the government has used its majority to impose a five-day deadline on the first round of House debate over the spring omnibus budget bill.
The 300-plus page budget implementation bill was tabled in the House last Friday, but debate didn't get underway until Wednesday afternoon.
MPs will have three more days to before it goes to vote at second reading under the terms of the motion passed today. That vote will send it to finance committee for study.
Move will 'disenfranchise' MPs
Three more days, according to New Democrat House Leader Peter Julian, isn't nearly enough time to ensure each and every member gets an opportunity to put his or her constituents' views on the record.
"Hundreds of members of Parliament will be disenfranchised by this action," he told the House during debate on the motion — and not just on the opposition side of the Chamber.
"There are dozens and dozens of Conservatives who haven't spoken on a single government bill since the beginning of the session, and they're being told by the government that their constituents don't have the right to be represented in the House of Commons."
The real question is, he said, "given how low the credibility of the government is with the Canadian public, how do [they] get the nerve to cut hundreds of members of Parliament out of the budgetary process?"
'Big Brother government'
Meanwhile, Green Party Leader Elizabeth May took issue with provisions related to the U.S. Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act that would, she averred, "would ask the banks to root through the private information of Canadian citizens, and turn over that information, without their knowledge or consent, to a foreign government."
"That's not just big government," she argued.
"That's Big Brother Government, and it deserves treatment in something other than an omnibus bill with limited debate time."
Responding on behalf of the government, Minister of State for Finance Kevin Sorenson argued that Canadians want to see the government continue to focus on the economy.
"Canadians expect their governments and the opposition to move this type of legislation forward," he told his colleagues.
"Our government has faced continued attempts by the opposition, which we saw again this morning, to delay and obstruct these important bills with amendments that are really just calling for the shutdown of the entire budget package."
The debate will likely wrap up early next week, at which point the bill will be sent to the finance committee, which will ultimately decide whether provisions not strictly related to fiscal policy are sent to the relevant House committee for further study.