Skip to main content

“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

The legislation was revised however it remains an affront to Parliament and the separation of powers on which the Canadian system of government is built


FRASER INSTITUTE: On Wednesday morning, the government, with the unanimous consent of the Opposition parties (Conservatives, NDP, Green Party and Bloc Québécois), passed legislation giving sweeping powers to Finance Minister Bill Morneau, including the power to unilaterally spend and borrow without parliamentary approval until September 2020.

While the original legislation was revised, removing the ability to change taxes unilaterally, it remains an affront to Parliament and the separation of powers on which the Canadian system of government is built. 

Indeed, Bill C-13, An Act respecting certain measures in response to COVID-19, grants the federal health and finance ministers the power to spend “all money required to do anything in relation to that public health event of national concern.”

While the Liberals agreed to accountability measures including an undertaking that the minister provide to the Commons Standing Committee on Finance a biweekly report on all actions undertaken under certain parts of the Act, these measures fall short of requiring Commons approval for spending measures.

And while the ability to impose taxes unilaterally and without parliamentary approval was removed from the original legislation, the government still has the unilateral ability to borrow. Government borrowing today leads to the need to tax tomorrow. Put simply, the government now has the power to control the budget by increasing indebtedness, thereby increasing the need to pass new taxes in the future.

The new legislation provides that spending may include:

(1) the purchase of medical supplies,
(2) assistance to the provinces for safety and emergency response needs,
(3) providing income support ... and ...
(4) funding public health-related programs or covering expenses incurred by federal departments and agencies.

While this list might appear to limit or at least provide guidelines for the government’s spending powers, in reality, these categories cover the entirety of the federal government’s $340 billion budget, which for 2020-21 consists of $106 billion in “Major transfer to persons,” $80 billion in “Major transfers to other levels of government” and $154 billion in “Direct program expenses” (i.e. departments and agencies).

The question for Canadians, particularly those concerned by the original proposal, is ... how is the revised legislation effectively different from the original bill?


Finance Minister Bill Morneau
The timeline for this unprecedented authority granted to the government, a minority government no less, has been reduced to six months. Beyond the shortening of the timeline (from the end of 2021 to September 2020) and the addition of reporting requirements, however, the suspension of Parliamentary oversight of spending and borrowing remains.

Six months ago, the Canadian electorate decided the Liberals should not have a majority government. Their minority status requires them to work with Opposition parties to pass legislation.

It’s unfortunate the Liberals have used a health pandemic to give themselves powers Canadians didn’t vote for and the Liberals have not earned. And equally unfortunate that the Conservatives, NDP, Green Party and Bloc Québécois have acquiesced.

The COVID-19 bill effectively eliminates the need for all parties to work together to pass spending legislation for the next six months.

Removing Parliament’s role in overseeing spending and borrowing will not bring our country together to solve the problems now ailing the Canadian economy.

The authors of this commentary, Niels Veldhuis and Jason Clemens, are economists with the Fraser Institute. Bruce Pardy is a professor of law at Queen’s University and frequent contributor to Fraser Institute legal work.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The stats clearly demonstrate the need for professional and impartial advice at the time of purchase, renewal, and refinancing of mortgages

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION : Canadian Mortgage Trends   Canadians need guidance with their mortgages ... t hat’s the takeaway from a national survey released this week by Rates.ca, which found half of Canadians aren’t aware of the mortgage options available to them. Not only that, but Canadians are lacking in some other basic mortgage trivia, with an astounding 9 out of 10 respondents not knowing that mortgage interest is charged semi-annually: 28% think interest is compounded monthly; 17% think it’s bi-weekly; 17% think it’s annually; 28% just have no idea. Should we be concerned? Dustan Woodhouse, President of Mortgage Architects, and a former active broker who has written multiple educational mortgage books, thinks so. “ Sounds about right. We know about what we pay attention to, i.e., The Kardashians ,” he wrote to CMT. “ The material concern in this is how easy it makes it for the government to over-regulate the industry, with c

THE SIDEWINDER -- Just quit your constant damned whining and do something positive about it

  Living in a democracy is a wonderful thing, but it comes with responsibilities such as voting and being involved. When the dust settled on Saturdays (October 24 th ) BC election, less than two thirds of the eligible voters * took the time to vote - but the loudest bitchers will probably be among the more than one third of voters who sat on their asses and complained about how all politicians are crooks, etc. How many of you constant whiners have ever done anything close to becoming involved; or do you just like sniveling to hear your own voice? Are you one the arseholes who likes to take advantage of everything our democracy has to offer, without ever contributing anything? And I don't want to listen to your crap about paying taxes, blah, blah, blah. There's more to making democracy work than simply voting and then sitting back and let others carry the ball for you. Too many people seem unwilling to get involved - and follow-up - to make sure elected po

AARON GUNN -- He is, at his core, an ideologue, meaning the facts of any particular issue don’t actually matter

Ben Isitt - City Councillor and Regional Director Victoria City Council and its resident-genius Ben Isitt is back with another dumb idea. Introducing a motion to ban the horse-drawn carriages that have coloured Victoria’s downtown streets for decades, calling them “an outdated mode of transportation”. Are you serious?   No one is actually commuting by horse and carriage. They are here for tourists and residents alike to interact with world-class animals and discover the magic and history of our provincial capital. It’s part of what gives Victoria its charm. And the truth is these horses are treated better than anywhere else in the world. They probably live better lives than many British Columbians.   And talk to anyone who works with these horses and they’ll all tell you the exact same thing: this is what the horses love to do. This is what they were bred for and trained for. This is what gives their lives purpose and meaning. But maybe we shouldn’t be su

Labels

Show more