It’s April 1st, April Fools Day, a day for good jokes and people from all over to show their sense of humour. Of course, in the House of Commons, business is coming back and with the SNC/PMO Scandal still going strong, this day makes for an odd backdrop to the events taking place today. Sure, it would be easy to crack jokes about it all, but this is serious stuff. And there have been more and more developments so far today, with more seemingly to come before the end of the day. So, let’s start at the beginning with the first action from today, one that the government didn’t seem to see coming:
Yep, the Conservatives are filibustering again, or I should say, Pierre Poilievre is. You see, the Conservatives are taking advantage of the rules of the House, but one in particular that’s particular to the debate around the budget. Under the rules, the first Official Opposition member to speak to the budget speech gets an unlimited amount of time to speak. So as long as Poilievre can hold the floor and speak, he can hold everything up. This isn’t the first time this has happened in recent history, as New Democrat Peter Julian did the same to the Harper government back in 2012. But to make matters worse for the Liberals, this filibuster can have a bit of a knock-on effect for other legislation going forward:
Ahhh, as you see, the rules of the House state that the government can’t actually introduce the actual budget implementation legislation until AFTER the budget speech passes. So, the longer that Poilievre drags this out, the longer it will take for the government to introduce the budget, let alone pass it. And with merely dozens of sitting days left in the House calendar, and lots of big legislation still to pass, a long enough delay could lead to the death of important government legislation that’s been allowed to sit on the order paper.
That would be a big price to pay for the attempted moves by the Liberals to stop questions about the SNC/PMO Scandal. Of course, the Conservatives are saying they will stop the filibuster under one condition; the Liberals let everyone involved in the scandal testify, including Jody Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott. On that front, we got some more new news about what we might see tomorrow:
Yippee!!! Another document dump, the promised Gerald Butts papers will be released no later than 3 pm tomorrow. As I mentioned yesterday, while I don’t expect this to bring a lot, if any, new information, it will still make for quite the spectacle. The government is spinning, the backbench is getting frustrated, and the pressure is rising inside the Liberal caucus. And that brings us to what might happen later today, if the reports are to be believed:
Emergency meeting? Oh my, to be a fly on that wall. We already know that at the last Ontario Liberal caucus meeting it was rough, and now the Hill Times is reporting that a similar scene played out in the British Columbia Liberal caucus meeting. So, will Liberal backbenchers give Wilson-Raybould and Philpott the heave-ho? In all honestly, I don’t see how this doesn’t happen now. When you see senior MPs like Marc Garneau and Wayne Easter come out and speak out the way they did while going into the House today, I would say the writing is on the wall. But as she entered the chamber, Jody Wilson-Raybould had this to say:
And you know what, I agree with her. Why is the one that was trying to stop the law from being broken be cast out? Why should the one who stood on principle be forced out? Seriously, what does that say about the current state of the Liberal Party of Canada when those are the people you decide cannot say? I agree that the situation is very difficult and untenable but expelling Wilson-Raybould and Philpott sends an even worse message to the general public. So, will it actually happen? I guess we’ll know at some point tonight or tomorrow. But once we know the end result of that potential meeting, I feel safe in saying that this story will be far, far, far from being over and the days of Sunny Ways will be a distant memory.