October 18, 2012
Feds, NDP clash over budget bill
By Jessica Murphy, Parliamentary Bureau
OTTAWA — Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said "there are no surprises" in his second omnibus budget bill - a 457-page piece of legislation his critics argue is too big for Parliament to digest in one piece.
On Thursday Flaherty tabled the omnibus bill that contains a raft of provisions relating to pensions, taxes and the environment, as well as other measures still left to be implemented om the 2012 budget, including reforms to MP and public sector pensions.
"We must continue to build on all we've already achieved," Flaherty said.
It also includes changes to the regulation and oversight of Canada's financial markets, an extension of a hiring credit for small business, changes to the environmental assessment act, tax relief for investments into clean energy equipment, and the phasing out of special tax measures for mining and oil and gas sectors.
The NDP said they're still digging through the document, but have already singled out one provision they say guts environmental protections at the federal level. Bill C-45 amends the federal Navigable Waters Protection Act, changes the opposition says drastically reduces the number of lakes and rivers under federal scrutiny.
Environment Minister Peter Kent said "it's absolutely false" any lakes and waterways are being put at risk by the changes.
The New Democrats claim they haven't decided yet how it will vote on the bill, but NDP House leader Nathan Cullen warned that "if the government's looking for a fight, they'll find one."
The first omnibus budget bill was tabled last March. Totalling more than 420 pages, it adjusted 70 separate pieces of legislation and contained some 700 clauses.
In June, opposition MPs forced a marathon 23-hour overnight voting session on 800 amendments tabled in protest over the bill.