MPs facing hundreds of amendments to budget bill
Opposition parties propose changes to budget in last-ditch protest against C-38
MPs could be facing votes on more than 600 proposed changes to the federal budget next week, with the House of Commons speaker expected to rule Monday on how to group them to weed out duplicate amendments and speed up voting.
The Liberal Party was the first of the opposition parties, presenting the House of Commons with 503 proposed changes to Bill C-38, the budget implementation bill.
The NDP followed with 506 amendments.
The Bloc says they want 22 more focused changes, though they will support the changes proposed by the other opposition parties. Party Leader Daniel Paillé said Friday they are amendments of substance, focused on elements that are contentious to Quebecers.
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May has 330 amendments, though some may overlap with what the other opposition parties have presented. May's spokeswoman said they tried to ensure that wasn't the case.
A spokesman for Government House Leader Peter Van Loan says between 1,028 NDP, Liberal and Bloc amendments, only 579 don't overlap.
Opposition estimates 30 to 50 hours of votes
Even so, voting could take hours or days of MPs standing to register their support or opposition. NDP House Leader Nathan Cullen estimated Tuesday it could take more than 30 hours, with May estimating up to 50 hours.
It's all in a bid to demonstrate their opposition to the Conservative government's budget and to draw attention to the measures they're against.
The bill passed the committee stage Tuesday night with no changes to any of the items in the 425-page document. It hits the floor of the House for report stage Monday, when House of Commons Speaker Andrew Scheer is expected to eliminate duplicate amendments and group similar proposals for debate purposes.
The budget implementation bill seeks to repeal several laws, amend dozens of them and implement a new environmental assessment regime. The Conservatives and NDP had negotiated breaking the omnibus bill into several parts, but Van Loan finally refused, arguing the opposition didn't support the bill anyway.
Van Loan says Scheer will be looking at a rule that hasn't yet been applied in the House that says the speaker can't allow debate on "repetitive, frivolous or vexatious" motions, or any that "would serve merely to prolong unnecessarily proceedings at the report stage."
"It's a clear interpretive direction to the speaker, I think, that applies directly to this situation," Van Loan said.
"It's legitimate for [the opposition] to oppose it, absolutely, and they can vote against it, but voting against it one time, 10 times, 100 times, 1,000 times, there comes a point at which it's simply the same thing. Calculated to waste time."
A spokesman for the NDP says the opposition's been forced into this position because the government wouldn't split the bill for better study.
"They are using every trick to ram through this bill so we are using every tool to slow it down so we can examine it closely," Jesse Brady said.