“Grievance before Supply”: Omnibus Budget Implementation Legislation as a Case when Party Discipline Damages Parliamentary Democracy
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This thesis explores the circumstances under which party discipline damages parliamentary democracy in the Canadian House of Commons. It uses omnibus budget implementation legislation as a case study of an instance when party discipline damages parliamentary democracy. While party discipline is central to parliamentary democracy, it can also undermine it if imposed too strictly. This thesis establishes a model of parliamentary democracy in which the House of Commons is meant to scrutinize, deliberate on, and occasionally amend legislation. It then identifies omnibus budgets as a trend in Canada through the following data on budget bills: number of pages, number of amendments, and length of debate. Finally, this thesis describes three key ways that omnibus budget legislation damaged the model of parliamentary democracy outlined at the beginning. The passage of omnibus budget legislation is a perfect illustration of the “parliamentary decline” thesis and provides a useful departure for future efforts at the reform of parliament to enhance the role of backbench members.