In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the federal Liberals are poised to table a bill granting them sweeping new powers to spend money and raise taxes without having to get the approval of Parliament.
Global News has seen a copy of the legislation set to be tabled Tuesday when a small number of MPs from all parties return to Ottawa to pass a multibillion-dollar coronavirus support package.
The legislation grants Finance Minister Bill Morneau extraordinary new powers to spend, borrow and tax without having to get the approval of opposition MPs until December 2021.
The Canadian Constitution enshrines taxation as a power of the parliamentary branch.
Because of that, granting those powers to the federal cabinet alone is highly unusual – even the Emergency Powers Act does not do so.
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Effectively, the proposals would allow the government to spend money and change tax rules related to its coronavirus response without having to get the approval of the House of Commons each time they want to do so.
It also means many of the measures carried out under those new powers could take place without parliamentary debate and without the elected representatives of Canadians getting a chance to vote for or against the measures.
In a minority Parliament where each money bill that comes before the House of Commons is a confidence vote — meaning the government could fall if it fails — it also raises the prospect that the government will avoid votes of confidence on proposed new spending and taxation.