Senior Liberal cabinet ministers and MPs with the party engaged in last-minute lobbying efforts outside the Senate chamber Tuesday evening, trying to fend off efforts to amend the government’s budget bill.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau, House leader Bardish Chagger and various Liberal MPs pulled aside a number of Senate Liberals and Independent senators on their way into the chamber, hoping to bend their ears before they cast votes on whether to back a Conservative amendment to remove yearly, automatic hikes to the excise duties on alcohol.
“I’ve never seen this in the eight and half years that I have been here in the Senate: Liberal MPs and ministers hovering in front of the Senate door, and accosting senators. Imagine,” Conservative Senator Leo Housakos, chair of the powerful internal economy committee, said in an interview with CBC News.
Some of the MPs stood behind the bar separating the entrance from the Senate floor while the vote was held, an unusual move, as visitors to the chamber usually sit in the gallery above.
“I don’t know if it was an attempt to intimidate, but it certainly was an attempt to influence the vote,” Housakos said.
A spokesman for Chagger said the efforts were “a continuation of the approach we have been taking with the Senate in this Parliament — maintaining dialogue as the senators do their work.”
‘There’s no cohesion. There’s no communication. …. It’s a state of chaos’
– Senator Leo Housakos
But the government advocacy did not have the desired effect, as the amended bill passed report stage 46-32, and cleared third reading Wednesday. The amended Bill C-44 will now be sent back to the House, where MPs can either accept or reject the changes.
Nine Liberal senators — Joe Day, Lillian Dyck,…