May 10, 2012 – Bill C-38, the omnibus budgetary Bill, is being rushed through Parliament with limited debate. Like CARP, many Opposition MPs have voiced concern over the limited time given by the Government to debate the OAS changes before they’re enshrined in law.
To give our readers a glimpse into the issue from the floor of the House of Commons, we’ve assembled excerpts from this week’s Parliamentary debates.
“It is sad that the government is continuing to ignore what really matters to Canadians: environmental protection, old age security, health care and job creation. The Parliamentary Budget Officer has said repeatedly that MPs are not getting the information they need for proper oversight. He also released a report clearly showing that the old age security program is completely sustainable as it stands now. Why is [the government] ignoring the various reports that clearly prove certain facts? Why is it so determined to fast-track a bill that includes so many cuts?
– Ms. Ruth Ellen Brosseau (Berthier—Maskinongé, NDP), Mon. May 7, 2012
“Is there anybody left over there who believes that Parliament should have the scrutiny and the power to review laws before it? Has power made [the Prime Minister] change his principles? For years, the Conservatives promised to do better than the Liberals, but now they are doing exactly the same thing. There is no transparency, no accountability. Why not split the bill and let the committees do their job?”
– Mr. Nathan Cullen (Skeena—Bulkley Valley, NDP), Mon. May 7, 2012
“Trojan Horse budget bills cannot become the new norm, so if the government is not afraid of being held accountable, it should agree to work with us to split the bill into proper committees. Separating the bill makes sense. It would allow for a full study with proper expertise at the table, and we would be able to make decisions that would benefit our country. I hope they will consider the consequences of seriously eroding the trust Canadians have in this House, which is precisely what they are doing with the bill.”
– Mr. Jasbir Sandhu (Surrey North, NDP), Tues. May 8, 2012
“Without OAS-GIS for two years, almost 100,000 recently retired Canadian seniors would be made poor today. There is absolutely no sound fiscal or policy justification for any of that. So why punish future generations? There is no reason to bankrupt the next generation of Canadians with the Conservatives’ reckless cuts. In fact, that is exactly the position taken by CARP, one of Canada’s leading advocacy organizations for seniors. CARP members have stated that they: “… do not see how cutting OAS spending would help future generations. Instead, they are calling for measures that will create job opportunities for them as a better way to secure their future. Rather than selfishly guarding their own interests…CARP members and other older Canadians are defending an important part of the social safety net and do not want to see it torn up for their children and grandchildren… If only the government were only listening.”
– Ms. Chris Charlton (Hamilton Mountain, NDP), Tues. May 8, 2012
“Will the government do the right thing and agree to split the bill?”
– Mr. Thomas Mulcair (Leader of the Opposition, NDP), Tues. May 8, 2012
“The economic action plan 2012, which is the budget, is a major plan for jobs, growth and long-term prosperity in Canada. It is a large budget. A large budget begets large budget bills. There is the bill before the House. As usual, there will be another bill in the autumn, another large budget bill for jobs, growth and prosperity in Canada.”
– Hon. Jim Flaherty (Minister of Finance, CPC), Mon. May 7, 2012
When Mr. Wladyslaw Lizon (Mississauga East—Cooksville, CPC) was asked whether he will agree to split the bill so that there can be a debate and Canadians can see the real impact that the bill would have on this country, he answered: “The answer is simple and our Minister of Finance answered it. This is a large budget that affects a high number of implementation bills. That is what we are discussing here today.” Mon. May 7, 2012
In response to Mr. Thomas Mulcair’s question of whether the government will do the right thing and agree to split the bill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper answered:
“ Mr. Speaker, the government received a mandate to make jobs, growth and long-term prosperity its major emphasis. The economic action plan was put before this Parliament in March and approved in principle in April. A first bill is now before Parliament which will be debated for a record amount of time […] I would encourage all members of Parliament to focus on that work and move forward on the priority of Canadians.” Tues. May 8, 2012
“Since the Conservatives agreed to break up the bloated bill for Senate committee study, why not the same for the elected House? Even better, and following the same logic, why will the Conservatives not break up the bill into separate pieces of legislation so we can not only study them individually at committee but we can actually vote on each part? Why will the Conservative members of Parliament not do their job?
– Hon. Scott Brison (Kings—Hants, Lib.), Mon. May 7, 2012
“If the government really wanted to address the many things it purports to address in this bill, then it should have separated them. It should have allowed us to discuss them as separate entities in order to deal with some of the changes it is trying to make. However, this is a sneaky way of getting regulatory and public policy changes through on a whole bunch of things that no one can discuss […]That is the sadness of it all and how democracy has been undermined, and how the best interests of Canadians are not being served by this kind of strategy.”
– Hon. Hedy Fry (Vancouver Centre, Lib.), Mon. May 7, 2012