Politics May 29, 2012
Tony Clement On The Omnibus Bill

Last week, British Columbia Conservative MP David Wilks made headlines when he was caught on tape, speaking critically about his government's omnibus budget bill. In this clip, Treasury Minister Tony Clement addresses the criticisms facing the 425-page bill.

He's in the red chair tonight, along with actress Juno Temple.

George Stroumboulopoulos: Because of the criticism of omnibus bill, they kind of subvert the democratic process because you're just jamming a bunch of things in, it doesn't feel like a real democratic process to them. What do you make of that?
Tony Clement: I would say this; this particular bill will have more debate than any other bill -- budget bill in the last 20 years. So - there's going to be a lot of debate in Parliament, and you have to also consider we did -- we were all over the country before the budget was even introduced, we were all over the country doing round tables and town hall meetings and so on. So I think that argument is overplayed a bit.
GS: The fact that there's lots of debate is almost irrelevant in the sense that a budget bill - the party has to vote along the Party lines and an MP doesn't have the ability to not go with a budget really. As Wilks found out. He can't talk about the budget in a critical way without getting shut down big time.
TC: We have a lot of opportunity for free votes, we do. And a lot of opportunity for debate. But the budget is kind of the Major economic document of a Government and if you're having a crisis of conscience about the Budget you should rethink whether you're on the right side of parliament or not.

TC: I believe that we are creating a situation where the environmental aspects of the Bill will have a separate subcommittee - and I think that's important to do - but at the end of the day we have an opportunity to debate and then deliberate and vote and I would say that a lot of the things that are found in the budget were found in our campaign platform, so there was a lot of debate around the country before the last election.

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