In today’s daily COVID-19 briefing, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated his government’s commitment to not pass omnibus legislation despite having passed multiple omnibus bills since forming government in 2015.
“We have been consistent in our approach in past years in not moving forward with omnibus legislation,” said Trudeau
“These are things we are fairly strict on. This is something we saw previous Conservative governments strictly abuse. This is why we have made a commitment to not use omnibus legislation and we’re going to be sticking to that.”
However, a quick look at past bills introduced under the Trudeau government shows this commitment has not been kept.
For example, last year’s budget totalled 392 pages rolling together many issues that had nothing to do with government expenditure. For example, it included controversial provisions offering additional treatment to asylum-seekers who arrive into this country outside official border crossings.
This is despite the 2015 Liberal platform commitment to not use omnibus bills, stating that “Stephen Harper has used omnibus bills to prevent Parliament from properly scrutinizing and debating his proposals. We will bring an end to this undemocratic practice.”
Similarly, the Trudeau government’s 2018 budget bill contained provisions that brought in deferred prosecution agreements intended to protect SNC Lavalin representatives from facing jail time.
At the time, Conservative MP Pierre Poilievre questioned why the government’s budget bill contained “a provision that would allow accused white collar criminals charged with bribery, fraud, insider trading and other offences to have all charges dropped.”
Some journalists were also quick to question Trudeau’s statement.
“Trudeau says they have committed to not using omnibus legislation, which is…stretching the truth.” tweeted journalist Dale Smith
“Bill C-17, which didn’t get agreement last week, was definitely an omnibus bill that included measures for CERB as well as extending court timelines.”