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Conservatives back away from non-confidence motion, for now
OTTAWA -- The Conservatives are backing away from a potential attempt to bring down the Liberal minority, just 20 sitting days into the new Parliament.
CTV News has learned that the Conservatives have informed the Liberals that they'll be looking to table a motion focused on the ongoing rail blockades, rather than a motion of non-confidence during their opposition day debate on Thursday.
The decision to hold off on moving forward with the first non-confidence motion of the 43rd Parliament comes after both the Bloc Quebecois and NDP said they would not support the move.
An email obtained by CTV News indicates that instead, Thursday’s opposition motion will call on the House to in part, "stand in solidarity with every elected band council on the Coastal GasLink route… and condemn the radical activists."
This motion was one of the handful that Outgoing Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer was prepared to present for debate on Thursday, which will be their fourth chance this session to set the agenda in the House of Commons.
Because the Conservatives have now given notice of the non-confidence motion—which simply states "that the House has lost confidence in the government"—they have the ability to table it at any point this Parliament.
"It's very routine to have a motion like that, in a minority parliament, to have it there and ready to go if needed," Conservative House Leader Candice Bergen said.
If advanced, the confidence motion would come to a vote that would need the backing of other opposition parties to pass and neither NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh nor Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet are willing to force a snap election at this time, given the ongoing Canada-wide Wet’suwet’en protests and rail blockades.
Singh said it was "ridiculous" that the Conservatives are "trying to posture about tearing down the government," and that while there's been a "failure in leadership" on the part of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, it would be counterintuitive to call a snap election rather than solving the situation.
"I just don't think it makes any sense. If you've got a national crisis, why are we then going to plunge the country into an election? How does that solve the problem?" Singh said.
Bloc Quebecois Leader Yves-Francois Blanchet echoed Singh's comments, saying that while his confidence in the Liberals is not very strong, his caucus would be voting against the motion if presented.
Citing the ongoing Conservative leadership race, Blanchet said he would "be helpful" and vote against the motion.
"I don't believe that they are suicidal enough to want to go into an election with a leader that they have recently rejected, so that's a huge and not very tasty bluff," he said.
Asked about the motion before the Conservatives backed away, Government House Leader Pablo Rodriguez had no comment, though longtime Liberal and Transport Minister Marc Garneau didn't appear concerned.
"So what? Big deal," Garneau told reporters.
As Conservative Whip Mark Strahl noted, his caucus has already voted against confidence matters, like the first interim spending bill.
"We've done it before, we'll do it again. And they will have to maintain the confidence of Parliament if they want to continue to govern. So we're not making threats, we're not playing games here, but it is something that is a reality that they have to face. They are the ones that have to maintain confidence of the House. It's not up to the Official Opposition to maintain that for them," Strahl said.
Speaking about the protests on his way into a Liberal caucus meeting on Wednesday morning, Trudeau said his government "is working extremely hard to resolve the situation," and called it "unacceptable."