Marathon Conservative carbon tax filibuster ends after nearly 30 consecutive hours of House votes
The Conservative-prompted filibuster in the House of Commons ended Friday night, after MPs spent nearly 30 hours voting non-stop on the government's spending plans.
The marathon Conservative-led procedural showdown was sparked by the Liberals' refusal to scrap the carbon tax.
After both sides dug in overnight and into Friday, MPs made it through all 120 "opposed votes" on various line items from the supplementary estimates and more than a dozen subsequent government spending items, by 11:30 p.m. ET Friday.
The saga concluded with brief applause and hugs across the aisle from bleary-eyed politicians before filing out of the chamber to make what for some, will be a long but quick trip back to their ridings for the weekend.
"For the past 30 hours parliamentarians from every corner of this country have been standing and voting and engaged in this House, representing their constituents, focused on implementing their vision for a future of this country," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said before the session wrapped up, while Conservative MPs heckled "axe the tax."
"And we are very pleased to come, eventually to the end," the prime minister said.
Midday, boasting about the progress made so far, Conservative House Leader Andrew Scheer said his party had "successfully killed a day of government business."
"This is one less day that Justin Trudeau will have to implement his destructive agenda," Scheer said. "That's what this is all about," while suggesting Trudeau could "end it all" by retreating from his marquee climate change policy.
That was a suggestion Trudeau unabashedly dismissed, telling CTV News mid-Friday morning as he dipped out of the chamber for a reprieve that he has no intention to back down.
"No, we're not axing the tax," Trudeau said.
CONSERVATIVES CALLED OUT
During a scrum, Scheer faced questions about the numerous budget bits his party had voted against from economic support for farmers, housing and hurricane Fiona rebuilding efforts, to enhanced operating budgets for CSIS, the RCMP and CBSA. The supplementary estimates send streams of funding to keep the lights on at various departments and to keep certain programs up and running.
In response, Scheer said the Conservatives were "voting against Justin Trudeau's economic agenda… just doing it in a little bit of a different way."
"You know, we've seen Justin Trudeau when he faces enough pressure, flip-flopping… So you know, this is part of that, putting that pressure on Justin Trudeau, and to highlight for Canadians that this fight is happening, that we are on their side and we are going to do everything we can to axe the tax."
Though, in voting against funding for the Department of National Defence and the work the Canadian Armed Forces are doing to train Ukrainian soldiers, it's not just the ire of the other parties Poilievre's team has sparked.
"For the second time this month Conservative MPs undermine support for Ukraine," said Ukrainian Canadian Congress President Alexandra Chyczij. "Canada's support for Ukraine should be unanimous and beyond political games."
LIBERALS, NDP QUESTION TACTICS
While the rallying cause appears to have kept Conservatives invigorated, Liberals and New Democrats have questioned why, after Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre made a big show about threatening to ruin Trudeau's holidays, he wasn't in the chamber the whole time.
Poilievre — McDonald's in-hand and fresh from a fundraiser and Montreal menorah lighting — did take part in-person overnight, as did the prime minister. But, both also opted to utilize the electronic voting option to continue registering their "yea" or "nay" votes for stretches.
"I have to say, like what the Conservatives are doing right now is so silly and absolutely ridiculous. This is not leadership. Mr. Poilievre continues to gaslight Canadians for clickbait. What he is doing is not going to accomplish any of his objectives," Government House Leader Karina Gould told reporters on Friday.
"They can keep us here all day, we will be here because we are going to stand up to them as bullies and we are going to continue to stand up for Canadians," she said.
Gould added that Liberals were motivated to stick the saga out, simply to keep resisting Poilievre's attempts to take a page from their American counterparts and "shut down the government."
NDP House Leader Peter Julian summarized what had been on display from Thursday at 6 p.m. when it all kicked off, to Friday night, as a million dollar stunt, citing the costs to keep the House of Commons up and running and all the essential support staff paid.
"What Conservatives have done is they voted to gut funding in a whole range of areas… I don't think this serves Conservative MPs well," Julian said. "What he was trying to do was cancel Christmas, but what he's really done is cancel his own credibility."
'ALBERTA BEEF' AND OTHER COPING MECHANISMS
Showing some levity about the procedural shenanigans pushing of serious government business, MPs shared some of the ways they coped with running on little to no sleep.
"I consumed a lot of Alberta beef last night," Scheer quipped, after a reporter asked about the late-night McDonalds brought in to the opposition lobby.
"I've almost finished signing my holiday cards," said Gould. "There's lots of coffee and tea in the lobby that's helping keep many of us awake."
Others opted to use the hours in the chamber — where technically it remained Thursday until adjournment — to catch up on emails, reading, or their social media feeds.
As the first night turned into day, offering some procedural humour, NDP MP Daniel Blaikie quipped that based on his quick math the Conservative tactic won't take them all the way to Christmas as Poilievre had postured.
"I wonder, are there some other votes we're not aware of that the leader of the Conservative party is, or did he mislead Canadians?"
Liberal Whip Steven MacKinnon piggybacked on this, adding "there may not be enough votes to get us to Christmas but we on this side will be jingle bell-ing our way through this recorded vote."
When all was said and done, nearly 30 hours after the confidence vote-a-thon began, the Liberals spending package passed as intended.