Canada's omnibus bill: 24 hours of voting, and nothing to show for it


A view of Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ont., Canada.


Simon Hayter

It took Canadian politicians nearly 24 hours to debate 800 amendments to the "ombnibus" budget bill grouped in 159 votes and, in the end, the Conservative majority won every one of them.

Parliament is readying for the summer break, and Conservatives packaged their 2012 budget into a 400-page Jobs, Growth and Long Term Prosperity Act.

It includes changes to everything from how charities operate, to Canada’s spy agency, to fisheries and unemployment benefits.

With so much disparate legislation in one bill, opposition members accused the Conservatives of ramming through the laws without debate.

In protest, the New Democrat, Green and Liberal parties tabled the amendments that became all but a symbolic objection just before midnight on Thursday.

“Canadians need to understand this really was an unprecedented piece of legislation that had everything in it but the kitchen sink,” Liberal Leader Bob Rae said, the Toronto Sun reported.

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Parliamentary rules requires politicians to stand for each vote, which meant they had to be in their seats when the proposed changes were read aloud.

Elizabeth May, the only member of the Green Party in Parliament, said she voted on every revision.

“There were a couple of us who didn’t take naps,” she told CTV News, “who were in our seats for the entire time and voted on every vote. It was a very, very long couple of days.”

The voting began on Wednesday, and ended at 11:25 pm on Thursday.

The Tories were not impressed by the move.

“The New Democratic Party is quite radical and has a very different view of the economic future of our country,” Finance Minister Jim Flaherty said after the final vote, according to The Canadian Press.

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