by Joanna Smith, Ottawa Bureau
Green Party Leader Elizabeth May believes the Conservatives' motive for lumping together all sorts of legislative changes into the omnibus Bill C-38 is "to avoid scrutiny" and she made the case by comparing it to Bill C-36, also known as the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act.
The former, as you have undoubtedly heard before, is 425 pages.
The latter is four paragraphs.
Here is how May described the difference at a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Monday morning, where she outlined why she had introduced more than 300 amendments to the federal budget implementation bill.
"Bill C-36, by the way, will get full scrutiny in Parliament. It goes to first reading, second reading, committee. We’ll have a lot of time on Bill C-36. It’s four paragraphs long. It amends one sub-clause of the Criminal Code. It’s not as though, for efficiency’s sake, Stephen Harper wants all laws compressed into one omnibus bill all the time. The ones he doesn’t want you to notice are compressed in an omnibus bill. The ones they want to put out in the front window, like C-36, has the grandiose title that it’s [the Protecting Canada's Seniors Act]. All it does, actually, is allow for at time of sentencing, a judge to consider the situation of the victim at the time of the assault. There is a lot I’d like to do to help seniors in this country against abuse, I don’t have any problem with C-36, but just in a contrast, C-36 is getting the full treatment of its own review in a committee, its own opportunity to have witnesses, and 70 bills are changed through C-38 with time allocation and running roughshod over hundreds of years of parliamentary tradition and democracy. This is the most egregious piece of legislation ever tabled, certainly in Canada, and they can’t expect us to roll over and play dead when this kind of outrage is put in front of us.”
*Yes, I am aware this is the most clichéd headline phrase of all time.