Conservative Party members are challenging the Liberal government’s claim that Thursday’s virtual hearing in the House of Commons on the Andrew Scheer-initiated motion to cancel the Liberal carbon pricing scheme allowed for a full airing of views, and signaled continued support from the Parliamentary Press Gallery.
Conservative Senator Tony Dean led an amendment to an amendment from Liberal Senator Bill Kelly. The Kelly proposal would have served to provide some measure of parliamentary scrutiny to the Scheer plan to cancel carbon pricing — allowing a request for an amendment on the motion. Dean’s amendment would have confirmed there would be a further debate on the carbon pricing tabula rasa proposed by Conservative leader Andrew Scheer that has been introduced before Parliament.
But in the end, the senators agreed to no an amendment at all and the motion was voted down.
Conservative Senator Lisa Raitt tweeted: “Finally, if everyone in the media wants government questions, they have to ask them.”
But as the Commons voted on a motion to debate the motion, the problem the Conservatives faced was not a lack of public airing of views, but rather the lack of formal parliamentary debate. The government’s argument in support of the virtual hearing is that it allowed for a full airing of the concerns, but the actual nature of the debate was much more limited in terms of actual debate.
Conservative Senator Linda Frum wrote on Facebook: “The EEA deserves debate. It wasn’t debate. It was one window between two, mostly respectful, senators who spoke to what they thought was necessary to cover the motion, not what was proposed.”
Conservative Senator Maria Fitzpatrick commented, “I’m not concerned that this was not a proper debate. The entire debate on motion M103 was a sham and proved that it would never happen in the real world. The EEA rules are so permissive that it is virtually impossible to avoid debate.”
Conservative Senators later went on to accuse MPs and government House of Commons staffers of violating the chamber’s rules on unofficial debating by serving tea and refreshments.
“Had this meeting occurred between government MPs and Conservative senators,” Conservative Senate leader Larry Smith wrote on Facebook, “the electronic expense claims would have been exempt from the rules.”