Of course, the Liberals’ tax on beer, wine and liquor is a small thing. Beer matters, but it’s a tiny portion of annual revenue. And even if it escalates automatically, they still have to get the budget passed every year. It is far more worrisome that Parliament rubber-stamps budgets without, since Trudeau Sr., having committees scrutinize the estimates properly, part of the process whereby MPs were converted, not always reluctantly, into coloured tiles across which the ambitious step to executive power. But as a symbol of the irrelevance of Parliament it matters.
It also matters as precedent. As Ivison notes, if they get away with it this time they may try it on other items in the next budget. And maybe not just at the rate of inflation. After all, spending keeps going up faster.
Even though the guy in charge no longer wears a crown, MPs need to stop passing budgets they haven’t even read, allowing the $300-billion executive juggernaut to roll over them annually in a manner not even the most supine Tory Parliament would have done for a Stuart king. They certainly mustn’t let the annual requirement slip away.
So the less Bill Morneau worries about how James II tried to free himself from the need to go to Parliament every year, the more we should.