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‘No choice’: Liberals look to cut off debate on budget bill in dying days of House sitting

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OTTAWA —
The federal government has announced it’ll be moving to limit further debate on the 2021 budget implementation bill, to try to pass it in the dying days of the spring House of Commons sitting, saying once again the Conservatives have left them “no choice.”

“Conservative Party delay tactics mean the core support programs for Canadian workers and small businesses will expire this month, just as we are all working so hard to reopen the economy. That is completely unacceptable,” Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland said on Monday.

During a press conference, Freeland and Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez outlined some key aspects of COVID-19 support including the wage and rent subsidy programs that would expire if the bill doesn’t pass in the coming days. They are now calling on the Bloc Quebecois, NDP, and Greens to back the Liberal minority in imposing time allocation, but it remains to be seen whether they’ll find a partner to advance their request.

The legislation, labelled Bill C-30, enacts several major budget 2021 commitments. It is currently at report stage in the House, and will need to pass that as well as third reading before it can be sent to the Senate.

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Tabled on April 30, a few weeks after the 2021 budget was presented, various committees in the Senate have been pre-studying aspects of the wide-ranging legislation for weeks, in anticipation of an end-of-sitting time-crunch.

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Last week, Rodriguez first signalled that the Liberals would be moving ahead with motions to cut off debate on key bills, accusing the Conservatives of trying to stall key legislation. The Official Opposition denied the allegation.

In the days following last week’s legislative tiff, the government has moved to restrict how much time MPs will spend debating certain key bills, while the Conservatives have taken the Chamber off scheduled agenda items to raise their ongoing concerns with the Liberals’ respect for Parliament, citing a refusal to comply with document production orders as one example.

After question period on Monday, MPs will be voting on a government request to extend the sitting hours over the remaining eight sitting days.

More coming.

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