Dan Albas

COLUMN: The effects of proroguing Parliament

Only four hours were allotted for debating $50 billion in deficit spending

Before Prime Minister Justin Trudeau prorogued Parliament back in August, it was not set to resume regular sittings until Monday, Sept. 21.

Parliament was again further delayed until Wednesday, Sept. 23.

Last Wednesday was Sept. 23 and became the date of the throne speech that I covered in last week’s report.

This week the government has tabled Bill C-4 that is the latest COVID-19 relief response bill.

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Examining the federal speech from the throne

READ ALSO: COLUMN: Federal government changes benefit plan

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 Trudeau Liberal government do this?

Because there was not enough time after existing programs 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 are 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 this opportunity for proactive debate and study was squandered.

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 Employment Insurance 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 very serious questions and there is no answer to date.

My question this week: Are you satisfied with the current direction of this Liberal government?

Dan Albas is the Member of Parliament for the riding of Central Okanagan Similkameen Nicola. This riding includes the communities of Kelowna, West Kelowna, Peachland, Summerland, Keremeos, Princeton, Merritt and Logan Lake.

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