Hon. Pierre J. Dalphond: Honourable senators, I want to thank Senator Tannas for having provided us an opportunity today to discuss the practice of putting a lot of other things in a budget implementation act, including amendments to various laws with no financial aspect and, of course, even less budgetary aspects, like taxes. Maybe the carbon tax was a budgetary issue; according to the Conservatives, it’s a tax.
This practice that was supported by this Senate in Parliaments must stop. I’m happy to see a change of opinion amongst many of us here today who were there at the time. I really appreciate the fact that they are changing their mind about this type of budget implementation act.
As I was reported to have said, and rightly so, in The Globe and Mail last week, I’m of the view that this practice continued by the current government, despite its promise to do otherwise, is an abuse of parliamentary process, preventing us from fully debating important issues unrelated to the budgetary aspects of the government’s agenda.
The question, then, is this: What shall we do to stop such a practice by Conservative and Liberal governments? What Senator Tannas is proposing is to add a sunset provision on an amendment to the Canada Elections Act. Colleagues, the provision in question was proposed by the government without any prior consultations with the Chief Electoral Officer or the Privacy Commissioner, as was said at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee. In fact, the amendment is nothing but an attempt to derail legal proceedings pending in B.C. introduced by the provincial Privacy Commissioner against all the federal political parties operating in the province of B.C., excluding the Bloc Québécois. All these parties are united in challenging the authority of the B.C. Privacy Commissioner.
In my view, the logical approach will be to propose to delete the provision, but it seems Senator Tannas proposes to keep it but only for two years. This is not a good provision and was not adopted with prior consultations, but, nevertheless, it should be in force for two years. I don’t really understand the approach.
That said, I think our response to the BIA — the budget implementation act — should be in full exercise of restraint, as was pointed out by Senator Shugart yesterday in his very interesting speech. It was a very good maiden speech, sir, and today’s was another one which was very good. Instead of sending an immediate message to the other place at the eleventh hour, I would prefer the adoption of a strong motion or an amendment to our Rules that will be both published well before their coming into force and well before the next budget.
Instead of a prior warning, what is proposed today is an amendment that would likely create havoc at the eleventh hour before the summer recess. This is not, in my opinion, a wise way to press for change. Accordingly, I will vote against the proposed amendment. Thank you.