House turns to pillow talk 0
OTTAWA - MPs armed themselves with pillows, movies, novels, briefing notes, and caffeine Wednesday for a voting endurance test expected to last more than 24 hours.
Parliamentarians will pull an all-nighter - and a full day after that - of around-the-clock voting on more than 800 amendments tabled by opposition parties last week in protest over the Conservative's omnibus budget bill.
The yay-or-nay marathon is a final obstacle put in place by an opposition that loathes the omnibus bill and wants it split up into bite-sized legislation.
On Wednesday, Finance Minister Jim Flaherty brushed off the delay tactics as "posturing, pure posturing."
He conceded his bill isn't perfect but "is the economic policy of the government. It's the big plan for the government for the next decade. It's a generational plan. It's not about bits and pieces - it's the big picture."
The Conservative government has vowed to win every vote.
And while the NDP said it wanted the Conservatives to "feel some pain for their arrogance," Tory MPs weren't taking the endurance test too seriously.
Tory Manitoba MP James Bezan joked the long night would be "just like calving cows, but a little bit messier."
The NDP plan to rotate out MPs who start to fade, but Green Party Leader Elizabeth May vowed to stay in her seat for each vote - a maximum of 159.
The Conservatives and the Liberals are being cagey with their strategy.
Bill C-38 has been a lightning rod for criticism since it was tabled in March - even coming under friendly fire.
In May, a Tory backbencher was caught on camera bad-mouthing the legislation, and earlier this month, former Reform and Conservative MP Bob Mills came out of retirement to voice his concern over its environmental provisions.
But despite weeks of bellyaching by critics, the Conservative majority ensures the budget bill will pass before the House rises for summer break.
The omnibus bill weighs in at more than 420 pages, would adjust 70 separate pieces of legislation, and contains some 700 clauses.
It covers everything from making the governor general's salary taxable to bringing Mounties into the public health care system, boosting the age of eligibility for Old Age Security, reforming employment insurance, and streamlining the environmental assessments.