Here is another one of the Harper government’s unforgivable sins: the abuse of omnibus bills.
Bills in a legislature are called omnibus bills when they contain unrelated pieces of legislation. Tacking on such unrelated clauses to a bill are common in the US Congress, but lest we forget, the US Congress differs from Canada’s parliament in two very important respects: First, there is no party discipline and second, the executive is independently elected and has veto power.
These checks and balances are absent from Canada’s parliament. This is why the Harper government’s inclination to use omnibus bills as a matter of routine is so troubling. Particularly insidious are omnibus budget bills. For instance, the latest budget bill, which included provisions about creating a Parliament Hill police force, dealt with suspected terrorists’ passports, and the records of the defunct Long Gun Registry.
While not illegal, this practice should be considered exceptional, used only in the rarest of cases. I hope that the next government will recognize this and refrain from the practice of putting expediency ahead of the basic principles of parliamentary democracy.