Those scoring at home need the whole picture on Crowder's votes

A former Conservative candidate who suffered a drubbing from Jean Crowder in the last federal election recently launched a bitter attack on the Nanaimo-Cowichan MP in a post on

John Koury accused her of voting against the federal government’s economic stimulus initiatives, and therefore, against pubic infrastructure spending in her own riding.

The truth is Crowder has consistently voiced her support for federal investments within Nanaimo-Cowichan, from repairing the E&N railway line to constructing VIU’s new Cowichan Campus.

Crowder did, however, vote against the most recent federal budget, as she did with previous budgets introduced by the Conservative government. And considering what these budgets proposed, she had little choice.

The 2012 federal budget, for example, was introduced as an “omnibus bill” and rammed through Parliament without proper debate.

It resulted in radical changes to more than 70 pieces of legislation — changes that gut the environmental review process for major projects, raise the age of eligibility for Old Age Security from 65 to 67, reduce the Auditor General’s oversight, cut the operating budget of the Canadian Food Inspection Agency, and make it easier for government to deny employment insurance to laid-off workers.

As you can see, it was a real gem of a budget.

Omnibus bills like this are pieces of proposed legislation that alter dozens of unrelated laws, stuffing them all into a single bill, rather than allowing Parliament to vote on each amendment or set of amendments separately.

Traditionally, budget bills introduced in the House of Commons have been about 30 pages long. The Harper government’s omnibus budget bill was a staggering 425 pages.

Critics argue that this method of presenting legislation undermines the democratic process, squeezing too many legislative changes into a single bill and limiting parliamentary debate. And they are right.

Members of the opposition repeatedly asked the government to break up its omnibus bill into several separate pieces of legislation so that proposed amendments could be properly debated.

Sadly, these pleas were ignored.

The result: Crowder and fellow MPs in all the opposition parties listened to their constituents and voted against the omnibus budget bill – a bill that undermined environment protections, social programs for workers and seniors, and ultimately the democratic process itself.

Good on Crowder for doing so.

Unfortunately, this required voting against certain public infrastructure investments that Crowder and her colleagues would have likely supported had they been broken apart from the rest of the bill.

But whose fault is that?

MPs vote on a single federal budget that covers government priorities for the entire fiscal year. They don’t vote separately on infrastructure spending in individual ridings. That’s not how it works.

Blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the Conservative government for refusing to compromise, rejecting opposition amendments, and limiting debate on dramatic legislative changes what will have a profound impact on the lives of millions of Canadians.

That’s the score. And you can be sure many of us will remember come next election.

Rob Douglas writes monthly for the Cowichan News Leader Pictorial. He can be reached at

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