Massive budget bill passes 2nd reading
The Conservative government's massive budget implementation bill cleared its first major legislative hurdle today, passing second reading as New Democrats conceded there was little they would be able to do to block the vote.
The bill will now be sent to the Commons finance committee for more detailed examination.
The Conservatives used their majority to give the bill approval in principle by a vote of 149 to 132.
But NDP House leader Nathan Cullen said there was little the Official Opposition would be able to do to block the vote — barring extreme tactics like pulling the fire alarms, which the NDP doesn't want to employ. Still, he says there will be more procedural ploys in the days ahead as the bill wends its way through committee and, eventually, back to the Commons.
Cullen says the objective is to buy as much time as possible to rally public opinion against the bill, which is stuffed with a host of non-budgetary measures including overhauls of environmental assessment, immigration and employment insurance laws.
"There's a certain inevitability about today," Cullen said in an interview. "There are some very, very extreme tactics available but we're not taking them. We made our point last week, got some more hours in the day to debate this and increased awareness across the country."
Once the bill returns to the Commons from the finance committee, the NDP, the Liberals and Green Party Leader Elizabeth May are all vowing to introduce potentially hundreds of amendments that could tie up the bill for days or weeks.
In the meantime, Cullen said the NDP will unveil later this week "novel" ways to engage the public in the debate. "We think knowledge is power on this one. The more people understand, the more people want to resist."