This is not just a budget bill

The NDP have promised to use every possible tactic to stall the federal government’s budget bill. This is a good thing.

The bill is an omnibus bill. This is a bad thing. The NDP tried to get the bill broken into smaller pieces, each to be voted on, but the ruling conservatives were able to block that effort.

Large, complex bills are an American tactic, imho, that is being adopted and adapted by Stephen Harper. In the USA bills will include “earmarks” which are funds appropriations that pay for projects, generally in the federal district (riding in Canada) of someone whose vote for the overall bill is wanted. For example, the Army Corps of Engineers has, I am told, no budget. It is all funded by earmarks.

In the Great US Bank BailOut Bill, there were something like three earmarks per legislator.

So, imho, The American Way is to add stuff into a bill to get votes for the main cause. Stephen Harper has added a new twist: add stuff into a bill that would not look that nice if it were in a bill all by itself. Once a bill runs over 400 pages (this one does) nobody can be expected to read it properly, nor can we expect decent summaries in our news outlets. The sheer size of the bill, all going in or out on a single vote, means a clever Prime Minister can put things in there that he doesn’t feel like defending. He then can cut debate short and force the whole pile into law.

The litany of extras in this bill beggars the imagination. Weakening of environmental safeguards is one item. Attacks on charities is another.

So, after you check out these and other sites (google budget bill Canada, eh?), you will perhaps ask yourself a dumb question:

Are the NDP doing the right thing in opposing this bill? If you think they are, are you doing the right thing in helping them, by writing your MP and newspaper? This bill is going to pass exactly as written, unless some very strong voices actually jolt our Prime Minister out of his complacent certainty that he can do this to us.

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