UPDATED: Well, I guess ITQ won't be spending next week at the Senate finance committee ...


Alberta Senator Elaine McCoy is liveblogging third reading debate live from the floor of the Senate chamber. So far, it sounds as though opposition senators are less than thrilled with the decision to fast track the bill through committee: George Baker plans to vote against it, Tommy Banks will abstain, and Lowell Murray — well, I’ll let Senator McCoy fill you in on the Senator from Pakenham’s gesture of protest:

4:04pm: Senator Murray moves, seconded by Senator McCoy, that the non-stimulus measures be deleted from the budget.  (He goes on to read ALL the deletions into the record).

4:13pm: Senator Murray finishes reading the amendments.

Bookmark her blog for updates — I’m going to go hang out in the Chamber for a bit.

At least, that’s what it looks like at the moment. According to Ignatieff’s opening question, delivered in the House just moments ago, the Liberal senators are now willing to roll over and let the budget go through with no additional scrutiny, ostensibly out of concern for those unemployed workers who would otherwise be deprived of an additional week of benefits.

To which ITQ can only say this: Way to go, guys — now it looks like you actually were “stalling the budget”and “playing political games”.

Confirmed by a source in the Senate — C-10 has, in fact, been reported back to the Chamber, which means it could get Royal Assent as early as later this afternoon.

UPDATED AGAIN: The Liberals’ rationale, posted in its entirety so readers can make up their own minds on whether it was right to put aside concerns over changes to pay equity law, the Navigable Waters Protection Act and other contentious non-budgetary measures in C-10:

For Immediate Release
March 12, 2009

Just the Facts:
EI Benefits under the Budget Implementation Act

.       Mr. Flaherty’s appearance before the Senate National Finance Committee yesterday alongside his departmental advisors brought to light an important part of this legislation that in the six weeks since the Budget, the government has failed to disclose.

.       Buried inside this omnibus bill is a provision that allows the five-week extension of EI benefits to be applied retroactively from the date the bill receives royal assent by approximately two weeks.

.       This is contradicted by the budget, which has no funding identified for extended EI benefits before March 31st (page 121) and the government’s own accountability report at page 74 which states that “Funding to Flow/Benefits Available – April.”

.       The passage of this bill will ensure that eligibility for extended EI benefits will be available immediately.

.       The provision itself reads:

Coming into Force

231. (1) Subsection 224(1) is deemed to have come into force on the second Sunday before the day on which this Act receives royal assent.

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