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Freeland's budget bill passes House after Poilievre pledges to block it

The federal budget implementation bill passed the House of Commons on Thursday, after days of Conservative attempts to block it.

By a vote of 177 to 146, Bill C-47, the Budget Implementation Act, 2023, No. 1 as it's titled, passed the final stage in the House with support from the Liberals and NDP while the Conservatives and Bloc Quebecois voted "nay." It is now off to the Senate, where a pre-study of the omnibus legislation is already underway.

The 430-page bill was tabled in April following Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland unveiling a plan of continued deficit spending targeted at Canadians' pocketbooks, public health care, and the clean economy. 

After some hold-up at the House Finance Committee in May, Conservative Leader Pierre Poilievre came into the House this week with plans to try to halt its passage, after the Liberals signaled plans to use midnight sittings to work through the final stages of Bill C-47 over Monday and Tuesday. 

This journey into the Official Opposition's procedural toolbox started with stacking the notice paper with more than 900 amendments seeking to wipe out most of the budget, and a demand from Poilievre that if the Liberals didn’t heed his demands to present a plan to balance the budget and cancel any future carbon price increases, that he'd use other measures to block it.

Then on Wednesday night, after MPs moved through the permissible amendments in batches, Poilievre vowed to filibuster debate at the final stage. Except the House had already passed a time allocation motion meaning that Poilievre could, and did, monopolize the final hours of debate, but he was cut off just before the clock struck midnight.

On Thursday, with the final vote already scheduled for Thursday afternoon, he came to the Hill with a new plan, telling reporters he was now willing, if Prime Minister Justin Trudeau cancelled his other plans, to "work all summer long to rewrite a budget that balances budgets in order to bring down inflation and interest rates." 

Poilievre said he thought his efforts this week, seeing the bill come to a vote a few days later than the Liberals had initially hoped, were "very successful." 

By the time the vote took place, Poilievre was not in the Chamber, opting to vote virtually, instead.

The bill's passage was met with cheers from the government side of the House, while one opposition MP could be heard suggesting that now the Liberals could prorogue, a rumour that continues to circulate despite repeated government denials.

In criticizing the Conservatives for trying to hold up the rest of the budget this week, a number of Liberals rose in the House and posted on social media to highlight the workers benefits and housing affordability measures they said the Official Opposition was delaying seeing rolled out the door to Canadians.

"Does [Poilievre] not support dental care? ... Does he not support supports for workers or students? Does he not support the vast preponderance of what's in the budget which is for health care and for changing to the new economy?" said Government House Leader Mark Holland on Thursday. 

With just a few weeks left before Parliament is slated to adjourn for the summer, even with the advanced study underway, it remains to be seen if Conservative senators try to tie up the legislation in their own ways.

In a move that had all-party backing, in May Freeland was able to fast-track and pass a bill that pulled out two measures from the federal budget: the grocery rebate and the health transfer top-ups.  



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