OTTAWA — Progress on the government's cannabis legalization bill and all other work in the House of Commons was put on hold until next week, thanks to a Conservative filibuster that forced an all-night voting session Friday.
The Conservatives forced the marathon of votes as a procedural stalling tactic to draw attention to their calls for the Trudeau government to disclose how much its carbon pricing plan will cost Canadians.
MPs began voting on over 100 Conservative motions on government spending estimates at 10:30 p.m. Thursday and continued voting throughout the night and into the morning, ending just after 10 a.m. Friday.
The Tories had threatened to keep the votes going for 25 hours, but only lasted about 12, stretching it out just long enough to bleed into Friday's sitting time and effectively cancel the day's proceedings.
Despite the fact the government has still not produced the carbon pricing data he has repeatedly asked for, finance critic Pierre Poilievre said he made his point.
"I think we were able to communicate loudly and clearly that the government has got something to hide," Poilievre said after the votes ended.
"We used every tool in our tool kit this week to expose the higher taxes that this government is forcing on Canadians, and we're going to continue to do that."
MPs shuffled from the all-nighter bleary-eyed and tired, many clinging to large cups of coffee after only an hour or two of break during the voting marathon.
The procedural stunt appears to have further entrenched Liberals and Conservatives in their opposing corners as the Commons inches closer to the final passage of several contentious bills the government wants passed before Parliament breaks for the summer in one week.
Liberals contended the filibuster was not about carbon pricing but rather another attempt by the Conservatives to delay the government's legislative agenda, including the marijuana legalization bill, which was supposed to be debated Thursday night.
Their suspicions were heightened by the fact that a bill which spells out the government's carbon pricing regime was passed Thursday by the Senate — with no debate from Conservative senators.
Government House leader Bardish Chagger said Friday the fruitless night of voting stalled what she believes would have been more productive work in the Commons.
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In voting over and over, line by line, against the Trudeau government's spending estimates, Chagger noted that the Conservatives voted against many initiatives they have pushed government to support, including border security and the supply management system that protects Canada's dairy, egg and poultry farmers.
"Every single vote last night, whether about the Canada Service Border Agency, in regards to dairy, in regards to supply management, in regards to the regional development agencies, and the list goes on, every single time, what did the Conservatives do? The Conservatives voted against it every single time," Chagger said.
As for his accusations that the government is hiding how much carbon pricing will cost Canadians, Poilievre continued to point to a document he obtained through access-to-information legislation in which details of government's estimates on the impact of carbon pricing on Canadian households had been blacked out.
The document is dated October 20, 2015, which was just one day after Justin Trudeau's Liberals were elected and long before his government had disclosed the details of its carbon pricing plan.
'We made our point'
Liberal MP Wayne Easter, chair of the Commons finance committee, said Friday part of the reason the data hasn't been released is because provinces have the ability to come up with their own carbon pricing mechanisms and the models could differ.
But he also said the figure in Poilievre's redacted document would have reflected a cost "range" and that if government released it, the Conservatives would try to "misrepresent the numbers."
"They would use the high numbers and say, 'That's the absolute. That's what it's going to be,' instead of using the range," Easter said.
Poilievre rejected the notion the filibuster was a stalling tactic on the pot bill, saying it was to "bring an end to the carbon tax cover-up."
"We believe that we made our point, and we're going to keep making it."