In Debate: Budget Implementation Act Omnibus Bill

Ms. Irene Mathyssen (London—Fanshawe, NDP): Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for a very good overview of this budget bill. All I can see here is a tax on Canadians: municipalities, veterans, civil servants, credit unions, scientists, and environmentalists. I can only assume that this is the government's new enemies list.

What concerns me most is how this budget bill would target Canadians in the workplace and change Canadians' absolute right to healthy and safe workplaces. Every April, I go to a day of mourning that recognizes the workers, the men and women, who have lost their lives in preventable situations, in situations where these tragedies should never have occurred. I wonder how putting this kind of change in a budget bill can possibly be good for Canadian families.

Ms. Peggy Nash (Parkdale-High Park): I thank my colleague from London—Fanshawe for this question about occupational health and safety. I know her long-time and serious commitment to this issue. It is also an issue that so many of us have lived.

Working people know their own jobs best, and they know if they are working in a hazardous or risky situation. The rights working people have developed over the years to know about dangers in the workplace, to be informed, and to refuse unsafe work were hard fought for. Employers resisted them, but they have made our workplaces safer and healthier over the years. That the Conservatives would want to undermine the health and safety of Canadians in the workplace is unbelievable.

It makes no sense. It is not only dangerous for working people, it makes no business sense. It is bad for businesses. It is a bad direction the current government is taking our country.

Mr. Bruce Hyer (Thunder Bay—Superior North, Ind.): Mr. Speaker, here we go again. At over 300 pages, Bill C-4 is the latest in a long line of bloated Conservative omnibus bills.

Half of what is in this bill is totally unrelated to the budget. It contains important and worrisome changes to the Canada Labour Code, the National Research Council, the Veterans Review and Appeal Board, the immigration regime, the collective bargaining rights of public sector employees across Canada, and the Supreme Court Act.

In 1994, the leader of the opposition, the current Prime Minister, questioned how members could properly represent their constituents when forced to vote on omnibus budget bills.

Why does the hon. member think the Conservatives no longer recognize the undemocratic, anti-democratic nature of such omnibus bills?

Ms. Peggy Nash: Mr. Speaker, I suspect that there are members in the Conservative caucus who are also very uncomfortable with these omnibus budget bills.

Canadians know that this is not good process, that this is not how we should be making our laws. It is not good process to have a grab bag of issues and concerns from different caucus members thrown into one omnibus budget bill. There is no reason to do that, unless the Conservatives do not want democratic debate, do not want Canadians to know what they are doing, or are not proud of what they are doing. It is a sad state of our democracy that the government persists time and time again with omnibus budget bills. I hear about it at the doorstep when I talk to Canadians.

Part of this budget implementation bill would correct mistakes from previous budget implementation acts that were put through with way too much haste; for example, doubling the amount of tax that credit unions would pay vis-à-vis Canada's major banks. That was a change the government made in a previous omnibus budget implementation act.

It makes no sense. It is a bad way to do legislation.