It’s not everyday that you see members of Parliament vote for more than 20 hours but that is what we witnessed from Thursday evening in Ottawa until just before 3 Friday afternoon.
The reason for the non-stop votes is quite simple, the Conservatives were protesting the Liberals thumbing their nose at democracy and refusing to allow the National Security Advisor Daniel Jean to testify in the open before a committee of MPs. Some of you might be thinking this is old news and why are the Conservative still on about it.
Indeed, this did happen some time ago.
I broke the story that it was Daniel Jean that floated the idea that the Indian government was behind a plot to embarrass Prime Minister Justin Trudeau by inviting the failed assassin and terrorist Jaspal Atwal on Trudeau’s trip to India. I outed Jean as the man behind the crazy conspiracy theory a month ago on February 24.
So why are the Conservatives still on about this?
Quite simply, they have been asking for Jean to come before a Commons committee and give the elected members of Parliament the same briefing that Jean gave journalists in India and Ottawa under the cloak of anonymity.
Trudeau’s Liberals have used their majority on committees and in the House to block any attempt to have opposition MPs speak to Jean, unless it is behind closed doors at a secret committee that MPs are not allowed to discuss. The reason the Liberals want to do this is because they know that the claims made by Jean are false, something that even his predecessor has claimed in public.
When the Liberals refused the latest request for Jean to speak, the Conservatives resorted to one of the few Parliamentary tools available to them, a filibuster of sorts.
Rather than allow the Liberals to pass all their budget measures at once, the Conservatives forced confidence vote after confidence vote on Liberal spending plans.
The Liberals didn’t budge on allowing a senior official that spoke to media to also address MPs and in fact, earlier in the day before the Conservatives stopped the voting, Trudeau barged out of the House upset that democracy was being exercised.
Prime Minister Trudeau just left the House – said he’d rather be debating gun legislation “that’s going to keep Canadians safe”; wouldn’t answer when I asked why he won’t let Daniel Jean testify #cdnpoli pic.twitter.com/vcfQfyDxao
— Laura Stone (@l_stone) March 23, 2018
It shouldn’t be surprising. I’ve long felt that Trudeau does not actually like Parliament. He’s said as much in the past but when he was in opposition he lamented that opposition MPs were ignored by the government of the day.
“Unfortunately, nothing much we can do in the House these days matters at all, and I hate that,” Trudeau said in December 2012 while campaigning for the Liberal leadership.
The same man that decried the “kids in the PMO” are making all the decisions, now has his MPs tweet out talking points denouncing democracy in action.
Catherine McKenna, who once paid a photographer a handsome fee to follow her around the Paris climate conference and then didn’t use the photos, who had her department create videos touting partisan policy, is complaining about the cost of democracy.
16th hour of votes. Sorry to be missing important meetings with constituents. Also, estimated overtime cost of $50,000/hour to taxpayers. https://t.co/buNi7k2ueX
— Catherine McKenna (@cathmckenna) March 23, 2018
The $50,000 per hour claim is suspect, something Mercedes Stephenson of CTV News noted, but that didn’t stop Liberal cabinet ministers from repeated the talking points from “the kids in the PMO.”
Curious what this Conservative stunt is costing Canadians? Well one estimate is about $50,000 per hour in overtime for the staff of the House of Commons (who are awesome). Oh and how about all those cancelled flights for MPs?
— Patty Hajdu (@PattyHajdu) March 23, 2018
Interesting statement from a woman who approved an office move that cost taxpayers $1.1 million rather than renovate existing offices for just $400,000.
Of course most egregious is Scott Brison, our supposed Democratic Institutions Minister at the moment, who was tweeting about how awful it was that Conservatives were using the tools of Parliament to make their points known.
The Conservatives are holding the House hostage to try and cut funding to:
❌Veterans in need of emergency help
❌Our students and researchers
❌Survivors of RCMP members fallen in duty
We won’t let that happen.
— Scott Brison (@scottbrison) March 23, 2018
The Conservatives were doing no such thing and Brison, a long time MP and former Conservative, knows this. But he wants to sell a message. One that says we expect the House of Commons to do as the prime minister says, to hell with this pesky voting thing.
The main point to take away from all of this is that Trudeau and company would rather spend 20 hours on non-stop votes than let the public know the truth about his Delhi Debacle, that awful trip to India that ended with him blaming an ally for being part of a conspiracy to make him look bad.
We all know by now that Justin Trudeau doesn’t need anyone to make him look bad.
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