Tories table crime bill motion, Liberals walk out
Published Tuesday, February 12, 2008 10:50PM EST
There was a dramatic walkout in the House of Commons Tuesday. The Liberals got up and left the House chambers when the Conservative government tabled a motion calling for the Senate to pass an omnibus crime bill.
The Tories had pushed the vote after they claimed their crime bill was being held up in the Senate. While the Senate is an independent body, the Tory motion urging them to pass the crime bill would have been a confidence vote and could have led to an election.
But CTV parliamentary correspondent Graham Richardson said there was little doubt that the motion would pass and an election wouldn't be triggered -- even without the Liberal votes.
He told CTV Newsnet that the Bloc Quebecois was likely to vote with the government ensuring the motion's passage. The Tory motion passed 172-27.
Bill C-2, the Tackling Violent Crime Act -- which consists of five bills dealing with violent crimes, dangerous offenders, and the age of sexual consent -- passed the House of Commons in late November, just before the Christmas break that ended in late January.
The Conservatives' confidence motion calls on the Senate to pass the bill by no later than March 1.
The Liberals have accused the Tories of playing politics with the bill. They say the Senators are only doing their job by fully analyzing the bill. They claim the Senators have not had much time to consider its details since they returned from break late last month.
Liberal House Leader Ralph Goodale told CTV's Mike Duffy Live that Senators will act responsibly, hold the appropriate meetings, and deny the Tories' argument about a delay -- "because there is none."
The NDP accused the Liberals are playing games, just like the Tories. British Columbia MP Libby Davies said her party took a firm stand against the Tories by voting against their motion -- but the Liberals decided to remain on the sidelines by walking out.
"The stunt pulled by the Liberals is completely illogical -- to get up and leave the chamber," Davies told Mike Duffy Live.
"How many times have they now sat on their hands (and) not made a clear decision?"
The Senate is not bound by confidence motions passed in the House. If the Senate does not pass the bill by the Mar. 1 deadline proposed in the Tory bill, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has the option of going to the governor general, who could decide that it is untenable for his government to govern.