Stage set for marathon budget vote
OTTAWA—MPs are spending today getting their affairs in order before they hunker down for a voting marathon on the government’s budget implementation bill.
They’re preparing for what’s expected to be more than 24-consecutive hours of voting on more than 800 proposed amendments to Bill C-38.
The Conservatives curtailed the number of hours for that debate, winning a 157-135 vote today to end it after 10 more hours of speeches.
Similar vote totals are likely to repeat themselves again and again over the prolonged series of votes on the amendments.
The marathon could have been longer—the Opposition had introduced more than 1,000 amendments to the controversial budget bill.
But the Speaker of the House of Commons ruled yesterday that not all of the amendments would be allowed, and he also grouped many of them together.
It means MPs will vote at least 67 times and no more than 159—a process that will take a least an entire day.
Once that concludes, there will be a further eight hours of debate on the budget bill next Monday before it gets third reading and goes to the Senate.
Senators have been pre-studying the bill for weeks so it wouldn’t get held up there.
Many amendments introduced by opposition MPs seek to delete elements of the bill they feel require more scrutiny, such as major changes to environmental assessment, employment insurance, and old age security.
The Liberals still hope for a last-minute compromise. They want four sections of the bill removed and turned into separate legislation so they can be properly studied.
But the Conservatives have shown no willingness to split the bill, arguing that no matter how they carve it up, the opposition still will vote against all of it.
“We are firmly committed to getting this bill through and we will have it passed before we rise for the summer,” vowed Tory House leader Peter Van Loan.
Van Loan also accused the opposition of playing political games and delaying laws needed to stimulate the economy.
The New Democrats say they’re doing their job standing up against a government running roughshod over the democratic process.
“How do you stop a bully for bullying? You’ve got to push back,” said NDP House leader Nathan Cullen. “And we’re going to push back.”