So-called omnibus bills have been in the news a lot this year. The 2012 federal budget that amended dozens of pieces of legislation was referred to by many commentators as an omnibus bill.
What is this legislative creature?
The Library of Parliament recently published a paper entitled Omnibus Bills: Frequently Asked Questions that tries to get to the bottom of the issue:
Omnibus bills have been used for decades by governments of various political stripes as a vehicle to propose certain kinds of legislation to Parliament. While their use is well entrenched in Canadian parliamentary practice, it is nonetheless often seen as an exception to the usual legislative process. Whenever omnibus bills are introduced, similar questions arise about their nature, admissibility, appropriateness, and other matters. Yet few, if any, studies have attempted to answer those recurring questions.
The purpose of this paper is to provide answers to some of the most frequently raised questions about omnibus bills.
- defines what is an omnibus bill
- examines its historical origins
- asks whether it is procedurally admissible
- provides a few examples of “famous” omnibus bills
- goes over the arguments pro and con their use
Earlier posts by Slawyers on the question of omnibus bills include:
- The Unreasonable and Transgressive Nature of Omnibus Bills (Michael Posluns, June 24, 2011)
- Omni Odds and Omni Ends (Mark Lewis, June 15, 2012)