Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament back in August, it was not set to resume regular sittings until Sept. 21
Once the PM broke his promise not to use prorogation, which also happened to shut down committees investigating the WE charity scandal, Parliament’s return was further delayed until Sept. 23.
Last Wednesday became the date of the Throne Speech, which I covered in last week’s report.
This week, the government has tabled Bill
C-4 that is the latest COVID relief response bill.
What was disappointing about this is that the Trudeau Liberal government only allowed a little over four hours of debate time on a proposed in excess of $50 Billion worth of deficit spending.
Why did the government do this?
Because there was not enough time after existing programs had all ran out.
By proroguing Parliament, and delaying the return of the House, the time that should have been spent properly debating and reviewing this bill at committee stage was entirely lost.
Why does debate and committee stage review matter?
As many will know, throughout this pandemic response there have been a significant number of gaps and unintended barriers that have prevented those in need from getting the help that a response program was intended to provide.
As a result, throughout these past months, the government has been perpetually playing catch- up on the fly, typically after these gaps and barriers are raised by the Opposition.
Some have still yet to get help because of this approach.
In this instance, Parliament finally had an opportunity to be proactive and study and debate a critically important bill prior to it coming into effect.
Instead the prime minister was more concerned with shutting down and proroguing Parliament. So this opportunity for proactive debate and study was squandered.
This is a massive failure by the prime minister, putting ahead the need for political cover over the importance of properly debating and studying the bill in question.
As it would happen, the bill was ultimately passed unanimously, however it was not studied in committee nor was it extensively debated.
As a result, there are many unknown details.
For example, how smoothly will the CERB benefit transition into the new EI version of this benefit?
Likewise, Canadians still have no idea what the current status is of the EI account (which is paid for, through premiums, by employees and employers) and if these proposed new programs are sustainable.
These are all serious questions and there is no answer to date.
Dan Albas is the member of Parliament for Central Okanagan-Similkameen-Nicola. Email: Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca. Phone: 1-800-665-8711.