The federal Conservatives resumed their filibuster of Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland’s budget bill on May 25, with MPs seeking more testimony from relevant witnesses, according to Blacklock’s Reporter.
“I don’t know why these Liberals want to make things so difficult for Canadians just to simply get the facts and understand the reality of the budget. It’s almost as if they are allergic to transparency,” said Conservative MP Philip Lawrence.
“We want to hear from Canadians. We were willing to sit whether it be Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to get this done,” he added. “We were absolutely clear on this. I would put my honour on it.”
Bill C-47 the Budget Implementation Act, includes proposed changes to over 50 laws. When the Liberals introduced it last month, they called it a “central piece of legislation” needed to implement many of the government’s key commitments in Budget 2023.
Some of these measures in the bill include a Canadian Dental Care Plan for nine million Canadians, a one-time grocery rebate for 11 million low and middle-income Canadians, and a $2 billion Canada Health Transfer top-up to all provinces and territories.
But the budget has been before the Finance Committee to study for a month, with Conservative MPs stalling it over concerns about the size of the bill, as well as what they claimed was a refusal of Freeland to testify for two hours. Freeland finally testified on May 17.
Lawrence asked the committee clerk to read into the record the first of 681 clauses of Bill C-47, which is 430 pages long. Lawrence claimed that in 2022, his 10-page private member’s bill on international human rights was studied more in-depth at the committee than Bill C-47 had been.
Liberal MP Terry Beech, the parliamentary secretary for finance, said the Conservatives “want to delay” and are “not interested in having a democratic debate.”
While New Democrat MP Daniel Blaikie opposed the filibuster, he said the Conservatives had every right to hear the bill read into the record.
“While I may not endorse some of the tactics I think are going on in this meeting I do think it is an important right of members to be able to ask for what we are considering to be read into the record,” said Blaikie.
“I would hate to think that because we may have some legitimate grievances about the tactics of the meeting that we would set a poor precedent,” he said.